History of Art Trip to Madrid

On the first day of the trip we arrived in Madrid bright and early and took a walk around the city centre. We saw the town hall, otherwise known as "Palacio de las Comunicaciones" as well as the famous "Puerta de Alcalá".

Later that day we visited the architect Norman Foster's exhibition "Common Futures" and had a chance to learn about his projects, such as, a prototype for a drone port. After a quick coffee break, we were off to see the Ivory Press, a company publishing a surreal collections of artists’ works. Visiting the gallery made us question what a concept of a book really entails, since Ivory Press presents anything from delicate paper cutouts to slabs of metal bounded together. There, often, a book of an artist’s work becomes the artwork itself.

The next morning we had the unforgettable opportunity to visit the Prado, the main Spanish national art museum, before it opened to the public. Walking around empty halls, we got a chance to come up close to the greatest works of art, such as "Las Meninas" by Velazquez and the Black Paintings by Goya. Later that afternoon we moved onto Reina Sofia, the museum of Modern Art. During a relatively short period, we managed to go through many different art movements, such as Surrealism and Minimalism. Led by an enthusiastic guide we saw Salvador Dali’s hyper-real paintings up close and witnessed the masterpiece that is Picasso’s "Guernica". Still overwhelmed by these works, we took a break to taste the Spanish cuisine. The bocadillo de calamares, a fried squid sandwich, was delicious. However, churros, dipped in rich hot chocolate, remained our group’s favourite.

We also visited the Norman Foster Foundation and had an unexpected chance to meet Lord and Lady Foster, an incredible opportunity for all of us. We viewed Lord Foster’s wonderful collection of miscellaneous art items, which featured the original Citroën car owned by Le Corbusier. Moreover, we saw Norman Foster’s archives and the original sketches of his past and present projects. As a perfect ending to the night, our group enjoyed watching a Flamenco performance, which perfectly captured the excitement and allure of Madrid.

The next day began with an exhibition dedicated to the works of Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec. I was especially stunned by the paintings from Picasso’s Blue Period since they perfectly encapsulate the melancholy of the time. Later we got to explore Madrid on our own. One of my favourite parts of the trip was seeing the Crystal Palace in El Retiro Park. This beautiful structure features floor length windows and elegant columns. A highlight of the evening was a trip to a modern dance performance, in which, the simplicity I saw bore a striking resemblance to the artworks we had seen in the Reina Sofia.

On our last day we got a chance to delve more into Spanish history by visiting an exhibition on wars and revolutions. Exhausted, yet inspired, it was time for us to catch our plane. It is safe to say that this trip was a once in a lifetime experience.

Sofiya Apsit, SFC2