Studying Art History in Madrid is an amazing experience on its own, but studying Art History in the gallery rooms of a museum, face to face with some of the most famous and influential works of contemporary art, took learning about art and Art History to a whole new level. I am an artist and an art major, but my passion for art goes beyond just creating it. Studying important and influential artwork and Art History is a crucial aspect of what artist and art students undergo during their studies and art making processes. This semester, I am taking Feminism and Art and the Reina Sofía Contemporary Art Museum here in Madrid (offered through the Tufts-Skidmore program), where we will study various art movements and feminist visions of artwork from the permanent art collection of the Reina Sofía museum. Every so often we have theory classes, which are held in the museum’s library, known for being the one of the worlds most impressive contemporary art libraries. During these classes we typically focus on a few artists for the class period and their influences on a particular art movement such as cubism or surrealism. During our classes in the permanent collection of the museum, we visit works from these movements or by artists we studied in class. With a special access card for students, we get free and unlimited access to the Reina Sofía library, which is a beautiful and quiet place to study and do work, or do research and read more about a topic we are studying in class. During classes held in the permanent collection, we travel from room to room in the museum with one of our two lovely professors, who guide us through and explain the curation of the rooms, historical and personal context behind the artworks we are studying, as well as bits about the lives of the artists. Many of the artists we have looked at so far are Spanish, and even some of them who lived and worked right here in Madrid.
The most recent topic we covered during our last two tours around the permanent collection had to do with women as a form of inspiration for art, and how this theme in art was portrayed in cubist, surrealist, realist, and primitive art. We studied the “femme fatal” motif through Anglada Camarasa and Pierre Bonnard’s work. We also looked at the “alegoría” woman, who was portrayed through Julio Romeo de Torres’ work. The “marginada” or marginalized woman, portrayed through Picasso’s Mujer en Azul, as well as various sculptures by Alberto Sanchez, through which he represents themes of motherhood and maternity. We also looked at works by Dalí, such as Muchacha en la ventana, Retratro from 1925, and his surrealist Portrait of Joella. We also talked about how classic myths were reimagined through cubist sculpture, such as in Julio Gonzalez’s Daphné.
In our upcoming classes, we will be talking about female representation in art, which we are all looking forward to discussion as a class in the museum. I can’t wait for the rest of the incredible art we are going to be seeing, and for the upcoming temporary expositions the Reina Sofía will be showing at the museum, as well. I have always been a fan of Art History, but it is truly something special to learn directly from the artworks themselves in one of the most impressive museums in the country, and maybe even the world. The Reina Sofía is home to Picasso’s Guernica, after all…
Aja Goldman, student blogger primavera 2020