All big museums put on large shows of Impressionist painting, the pretty stuff that will bring in tourists and makes all the educated folk lift their noses still higher to avoid the stench. Sometimes a shameless march through salon after salon of Degas, Sorolla, Monet, Klee, Nolde and their peers is a good idea.
The exhibition at El Museo Thyssen, 1914! La vanguardia y la gran guerra, is presented very simply as the topic at hand is a heavy one. Hung on green walls, a color often used by the painters exhibited, are a manageable number of paintings ranging from 1911-1917 give or take a year. Short poems, presented in their original German and in translations, are mounted alongside certain works. These words proudly announce the Futurists belief that war is the "world's hygiene" and progressively deteriorates into the converse. Some of the treasures this winding exhibit has to offer are 12 of Ossip Zadkine's "20 Etchings of the War", "Small Tree in Late Autumn" by Egon Schiele and Emil Nolde's "Soldiers" which reminded me of the wall of soldiers printed in 1918 by George Bellows. Picasso's heavy shoulder is ever present amongst the fracturing images.
La Fundación Mapfre, a non-profit arts foundation in Madrid, is currently presenting the work of Degas, Del proceso a la creación. A nice little collection of work, the best of which are his sketches and the small painting Le foyer de la danse à l’Opéra de la rue Le Peletier, 1872. The rest falls into repetition. Upstairs is another exposition, Entre dos siglos: España 1900, a presentation of a select and often neglected group of Spanish painters who built the bridge from traditional to modern Spanish painting. A large blue room of Sorolla's paintings literally steals the entire cake and Verano, 1904, in particular. I had a delightful encounter with Santiago Rusiñol (1861-1931) and the handful of paintings of his presenting women who just might have been stolen from the French past or the American future. (Grand Ball, 1891)