Recommended: Spanish Art Feast

Dali everywhere - door to Cadaques museum (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Tim Van Schmidt | New SCENE

My recent trip to Spain was an art feast. From the solemnity of the Goya Museum in Zaragoza to the dramatic whimsy of street graffiti, I saw art everywhere.

In Barcelona, the must-do list included visiting the Fundacio Miro — an entire museum dedicated to the work of Joan Miro. Well, almost — there was a special exhibition of Paul Klee’s work too.

If they touch one, they touch us all – Barcelona (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Some of Miro’s artwork is giant-sized and even included a wall-sized tapestry. Big or small, his primitive forms are often emblazoned with bright swathes of color that stand out from across the room.

But what I also discovered was that Miro was an accomplished surrealist sculptor. Metal, wood and mixed assemblages apparently went places Miro’s canvas work couldn’t go. It was trippy stuff.

The main art event for me was in Figueres. There I visited the Dali Theatre-Museum and was drawn completely into this odd, strange world created by Salvador Dali himself. It’s all dedicated to Dali’s work, but this is not a cut and dried exhibition so much as an immersive experience.

Street art La Seu d’Urgell (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

One particular room said a lot about Dali as a conceptual artist. If you stood at the top of a ladder and looked through a spy glass, you would see Mae West’s face come to life when many of the elements in the room become aligned. He thought big, he thought brave, even a little nutty, and made art that defied explanation — and he’s interred in the museum itself.

Despite room after room of mind-bending art pieces, assemblages, concept pieces and just plain weirdness, my favorite discovery was the display of Dali’s jewelry. Sketches accompanied each piece, but the exacting arrangements of shining metal and jewels dazzled the eye like nothing else he did — not without some Dali twist in them, of course.

I visited the Theatre-Museum, the Gala Dali Castle in Pubol, decorated by Dali for his wife, as well as the seaside town of Cadaques, where Dali once lived.

Monument to the Heroes of 1811 Tarragona (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

In Zaragoza, I also visited the Francisco Goya museum dedicated to the work of one of Spain’s most revered artists of the 18th and 19th century.

There were full sized paintings here, many with religious themes, but the main draw was a room that contains all of Goya’s prints, including his bull fight series, the “Disasters of War”, and much more. It’s actually kind of tough viewing because Goya’s images are often dark, angry, and violent, with strange fever dream images thrown in for an even spookier effect.

Also interesting were the two floors of galleries dedicated to artists who inspired Goya and artists who were inspired by Goya. Both floors exhibited excellent collections, not just for the fine artwork itself, but also for the ability of the work to convey different times and places. These paintings were like opening windows to the Spain that was.

Goya Museum Zaragoza (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

But some of the most vibrant art I saw in Spain was on the street. Yes, that included public artworks — like the “Monument to the Heroes of 1811” in Tarragona. It’s a sobering sculpture.

But mostly I am talking about street art. That included graffiti, of course — ranging from just artist names to fantasy imagery to political messages.

Joan Miro tapestry Barcelona (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

But another element of Spanish street art that I enjoyed was the colorful work on the grated doorways of shops that were closed. They were eye-catching, advertising the business or just displaying cool art, turning a walk down a deserted street in the mid-afternoon into an adventure of discovery.

View “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt” on YouTube.

Salvador Dali’s jewelry Figueres (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Support Northern Colorado Journalism

Show your support for North Forty News by helping us produce more content. It's a kind and simple gesture that will help us continue to bring more content to you.

BONUS - Donors get a link in their receipt to sign up for our once-per-week instant text messaging alert. Get your e-copy of North Forty News the moment it is released!

Click to Donate