Queen Sofia Art Center

Located at Calle Santa Isabel 52, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia is just the ticket for fans of Picasso, Miro, Solana and other notable Spanish artists.

A relatively young museum, established in 1991, the Queen Sofia contains hundreds of works by dozens of artists, including the famed Guernica by Picasso. As a result it is now ranked among the most important collections in modern art in Europe.

Unusual for a museum dedicated to modern art, the collection is housed in a building designed in the 18th century. Scheduled to be demolished, it was declared an historic monument in 1977 and eventually was re-purposed to its present use.

Located near the Atocha roundabout not far from the Prado, the theme of traditional combined with modern continues in the famed transparent elevators. From them visitors can obtain an excellent view of Madrid on their way to the paintings.

Off the elevator banks there are several interesting Solana pieces, among them The Circle of the Cafe Pombo, The Chorus Girls and The Meeting of the Pharmacy. All are works of the 20s and 30s, but the collection of Queen Sofia covers a range from the late 19th century to the most contemporary works.

Miro is well represented with works such as Man With A Pipe, Escargot, Femme, Fleur, Toile and Femme et Oiseau Dans La Nuit (Woman and Bird in the Night). Painted in Barcelona these works from the 20s and 30s of the artist continue to attract large crowds of visitors.

Dali has a number of works in the museum. The style runs the gamut from the 1927 Still Life By the Light of the Moon, which appears to be a take-off of Picasso, to the naturalistic portrait Galarina of 1945, to the Crucifixion paintings of 1951 and 1955 in which surrealism is suppressed in favor of a stylized realism.

There are several Picasso works, some of them that will surprise all but the most knowledgeable devotees of the Spanish painter. The First Communion from 1896, for example, shows the young artist painting very much in the academic style of the 19th century. Even the Woman In Blue of 1901 still shows much of this influence.

By the time you come upon the Las Señoritas de Avignon of 1907 the cubist style for which he is most well known is prominently on display. The famed Guernica, painted in 1937 is yet another evolution of this ever-changing artist. Taking its inspiration from the Nazi bombing of the town of the same name, it shows the mature Picasso’s slant on surrealism in an unmistakable way.

Besides the paintings, there are porcelain, pottery, glass and a great many other objets d’art housed in the over 46,000 square yards (39,000 sq m) of exhibit space. There’s also a public library and a cafeteria.

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