Madrid – Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Floor 0)

And in the last of my three part series which has shaken the art world (ahem) is the ground floor of the wonderful Thyssen gallery. Artworks I liked from the other two floors are at floor one and floor two.

Francis Bacon’s Portrait of George Dyer in a Mirror which was painted in 1968. I hadn’t realised that Bacon died in Madrid in 1992, although this is his only artwork that the gallery has. George Dyer was Bacon’s partner, and he killed himself in 1971 by taking an overdose of drugs.

This artwork went a little over my head, so I’m again reliant on the gallery’s web-site to try and explain what it’s all about. They note that “the violence and brutality of the image, focused on the distortion of the main figure whose face is contorted by a spasm, as if being subjected to a number of forces from which he cannot break free, is heightened by a circular halo of light from a source located outside the painting”.

Pablo Picasso’s Head of a Man which was painted in 1913. I have no idea what this represents, and reading the gallery’s description, I’m not sure that they have either. They mention that elements of a face are visible and that it gives “a certain impression of reality”. I’m not entirely clear what that means, but then again, perhaps art isn’t always created to mean anything.

Richard Estes’s Nedick’s which was painted in 1970. It’s apparently part of the photo-realism, or hyper-realism, and this is something that I can better understand. The content is obviously rather close to my heart, but the clarity of the painting and the clarity I thought is rather beautiful.

Kurt Schwitters’s Merzbild Kijkduin which was painted in 1923. The gallery has five artworks from this German artist and this particular one takes its name from a village near the Hague. Until 1957 this artwork was owned by Hannah Höch, whose work was labelled as degenerate by the Nazis, and she buried her entire art collection, which I imagine locally includes this one, in a well in her garden.

Stuart Davis’s Pochade which was painted in 1956. I’m becoming ever more intrigued into how art experts explain artworks such as this, which don’t seem to mean anything. The gallery description of the artwork is interesting, but can’t explain what the point of it is, or any meaning behind it.

The Wikipedia article about the artist notes “with the belief that his work could influence the sociopolitical environment of America, Davis’ political message was apparent in all of his pieces from the most abstract to the clearest”. I’m at a loss as to how this artwork influences the sociopolitical environment of the US, but I’d be interested to know what thinking lay behind it.

Marc Chagall’s The Cock which was painted in 1928. This seemed a popular artwork when I visited, it seemed to attract people to come over. I can’t add anything much to it, other than to quote the gallery’s description that “Chagall depicts a loving embrace between the animal and a female figure that is generally identified as a harlequin”.

Roy Lichtenstein’s Woman in Bath which was painted in 1963. This is the only artwork the gallery has by the artist, and it’s one they are proud of given their coverage of it in promotional material. To me, this sort of painting rather defines America in the 1960s. Apparently artworks by Lichtenstein reach tens of millions of pounds, quite remarkable given that it’s only fifty years old.

Edward Hopper’s Hotel Room which was painted in 1931. This was another popular artwork with a queue of visitors waiting to take a photograph of it. The gallery has four of Hopper’s works and the theme of this painting is to show loneliness in a hotel room in a city. I rather like hotel rooms, but for those who don’t, there’s a lot of depth in this.