Arlene Reich Temple in Spain

El Museo de las Bellas Artes de Asturias

El Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias, established in 1980, a building offering free admission to all. It is rooted in the quiet part of old city, the streets bordering the Gothic Cathedral.  It shuts down to take siesta until 16:30 each day, which meant that I was forced to walk the old part of the city in the rare sunlight, an area for which there is no equivalent in Oviedo.  The museum offers 400 works on display divided between three floors, focusing mostly on the work of native Spanish and specifically Asturian artists. The word is that the establishment has about 8,000 more samples behind locked doors.  The museum was empty save for the excess of security guards that carefully traced my progress from room to room.  The natural progression through the exhibits presents the evolution of art in Spain, from its central focus on scenes of religious fervor, sanctity, and the sins of mortal man.  This includes part of El Greco’s infamous collection of the individual apostles, with his unusual manner of extending limbs and creating long features.  The following Baroque period is filled with the portraits of the royal family, a pale and over-adorned bunch.  For me, this has been the least interesting or revolutionary period of art in Spain’s long creative history.  The next period gives tribute to the Asturian landscape with a multitude of realistic looking portrayals of the mountains, meadows, and sea that give Asturias its rich color.  The 20th century is then made up of the –ismos: cubismo, surrealismo, tremendismo, etc.  It is an exploration of material and dimension, playing with the mediums of glass, wood, canvas, and color.  By far, the piece that most captivated my attention was that of Dali, acquired by the museum in 2004.  Named “Metamorfosis de angeles en mariposa”, it is an enormous watercolor portraying the flowing and fluid figures of angels in the process of metamorphosis.  Before glancing at the name card, there were several signs indicating his sure presence in the piece, including his iconic wasteland scenery and men sans faces, not to mention the large and geometric signature in the center right.  I am sure to return on future rainy days—


Now, to Roma!

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