Surrealism and the Dream
8 October 2013 to 12 January 2014
<exchanging gazes> 7: The Rhythm of the Earth. 17th century Dutch and 19thcentury American Landscape Painting
New Display of the Collections
From 24 September 2013 to 6 January 2014
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum offers a number of thematic tours. These are interesting and stimulating routes around the collection that invite participants to discover the works of art from new viewpoints.
In addition to being an essential source of nourishment, food is also an
object used in cult worship, a sign of wealth, a social ritual and a source
of shared pleasure that involves all the senses and feeds the spirit. Given
that, as the well known saying has it, “we eat more with our eyes than
with our mouths”, the art of cookery, which involves creativity and colour
in a way comparable to painting, has enormous visual appeal. As in an
alchemist’s laboratory and surrounded by flasks, jars, paintbrushes and
spatulas, both the cook and the artist transform their primary materials
— saffron, berries, walnut and linseed oil, casein, fish tail, vinegar and egg
white — into a creation that marks the transition from nature to culture
through the opposition of the raw and the cooked.
Through this gastronomic survey the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection aims to satisfy visitors’ appetites, tempting your palate and feasting your eye.
The guiding thread of this survey is that of inventions, in the sense of
machines or mechanical devices to be seen in the selected paintings. They
are frequently not the principal subject of the painting: on the contrary,
they are secondary objects that illustrate the numerous inventions that
have made our lives easier and more comfortable.
In the ancient world art, science and technology were not separated as they are today. In their original sense the words art (ars in Latin) and technology (from the Greek tecné) meant the same, i.e. man’s capacity to create. Leonardo da Vinci represents the remarkable culmination of the synthesis of the two concepts. From Newton onwards and subsequently with Romanticism, art and science became separated into two different and contrasting disciplines: objectivity, reality and logic as opposed to subjectivity, imagination and emotion. In the 20th century and even more so in the 21st century, these boundaries have once again become less precise with art being enriched by science and vice versa.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection offers a step by step history of the
evolution of painting in the Low Countries from the 15th to the 20th centuries,
including an outstanding group of works from the 17th century, which is a
school of painting poorly represented in other Spanish collections.
In order to pursue this subject, the present route will introduce the artists in question through fourteen selected paintings. It starts with works from the 15th century when the spread of the use of the oil technique offered painters a new way of representing reality and one in which detail and precision were fundamental. This is evident in the works by Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling, Joachim Patinir and others.
From the late 16th century and throughout the 17th century a range of subjects began to be depicted by artists working in both the Southern Provinces (Flanders) and the Northern Provinces. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection has paintings by the leading Flemish artists of this period — Rubens, Van Dyck and Anthonis Mor — as well as a notably comprehensive collection of paintings by Dutch artists — Frans Hals, Rembrandt, Nicolas Maes, Jacob van Ruisdael and Willem Kalf — who worked in genres such as portraiture, scenes of daily life, landscape and still life. These themes were all particularly popular with middle-class mercantile clients who were interested in decorating their houses with works of this type, resulting in a flourishing art market in Dutch cities.
Our survey ends with Dutch and Belgian artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, represented in the Collection by names of the stature of Vincent van Gogh, Anton Mauve, James Ensor, Piet Mondrian and René Magritte.
Water, the archetypal and essential human resource par excellence, has
been depicted in all cultures since the dawn of humanity up to the present
day. Its wide range of symbolic, sociological, literary and aesthetic
connotations within the history of Western painting means that it can be
approached from the viewpoint of numerous different issues. These include
man’s relationship with nature and conquest of it, our vulnerable position
midway between the fertility and destruction that give rise to natural
resources, spirituality and ancestral rites associated with the elements, the
relationship between water and the female, and pure enjoyment of its
The present tour of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection spans the 14th to the 20th centuries through a selection of “images of water” that will introduce us to a wide range of expressive landscapes. We will be seeing lakes, with their reflections that so fascinated painters, springs and rivers associated with biblical and mythological stories, unknown seas or ones whose raging waters have tested the courage of seafarers to the limit, majestic winter landscapes, ports and scenes of leisure activities. These are just a few of the themes that the painters in question have bequeathed to us, inviting us to reflect on and look at water in the context of our daily surroundings in a new way.
Since antiquity, painting has made use of flowers in order to convey a
wide range of meanings through their scent, vivid colours, endless variety
of shapes and forms, cultivation methods and therapeutic properties.
The present tour of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection offers a survey of Western art from the end of the Middle Ages to the present with the aim of analysing the numerous functions of floral symbols as indicators of heightened spirituality or extravagant display, conjugal fidelity or dynastic allegiance, and saintly innocence or exotic sensuality.
Fashion is a way of differentiating ourselves. It allows us to exhibit our different attitudes to life; it can show off or hide our bodies; it can challenge or innovate; it can be modern or traditional. Fashion reflects the evolution of society over time. It is an integral part of our culture and therefore has a place in our museums. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum invites you on a journey through the world of fashion.
Kenneth Clark: “We owe much of our pleasure in looking at the world to the great artists who have looked at it before us”
Momentarily removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we are transported by our thematic route through the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza rooms to a land (as in Baudelaire’s dream in Invitation to the Voyage) where “all is order and beauty, luxury, peace and pleasure”. Here there are countless surprises in store for the visitor and we hope that, like the inveterate traveller, he or she will want to come back to see more of the unusual routes and revelations awaiting those who return. The gaze of the traveller — like that of the visitor to a museum — is curious and inquisitive. It is eager to discover new things of beauty and riddles to solve, and be enriched by views of unknown territories, the memories of which will last forever. Each new journey, each new artist discovered helps to open the doors of our perception, prompts new adventures, allows us to witness the diversity of human experience and helps to expand our awareness of our own identity
*Except for those Mondays with special opening times.
There may be changes to the timetable in the summer.