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Three contemporary artists and no mega-exhibitions at the Prado in 2022




There was interest, and curiosity, to know the exhibition program for this year of the Prado, whose director, Miguel Falomir, has unveiled this morning at the Casón del Buen Retiro. The first thing that stands out is that the contemporary art little by little a hole continues to be made in the gallery. “There will be a greater emphasis on him this year,” warns Falomir. “We are not a museum of contemporary art, but we will welcome artists who have shown interest in the museum. There must be a solid project. If last year the museum acquired a canvas of Mary blanchard and shortly thereafter he received in deposit a picture of Picasso, which will be donated in the future (both correspond by date to the Reina Sofía collections), there will be three contemporary artists whose works will be at the Prado this year.

On the one hand, it joins the ‘boom’ of Picasso samples that will invade us in the coming months on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the artist’s death, which is not commemorated this year, but in 2023. It will be, according to Falomir, an exhibition ‘dossier’ in which they will be measured Picasso and El Greco. Curated by Carmen Giménez, it will take place from November 2022 to February 2023 in the Villanueva building. On the other hand, also in November but this time in the Jerónimos building, it will open ‘Fernando Zóbel and the history of art ‘, produced in collaboration with the Juan March Foundation. Although the presence in the Prado of an abstract artist like Zóbel might surprise, Falomir explains that “he had a very conscientious relationship with the History of Art.” He treasured old drawings, today distributed between Harvard University and the Prado, and copied the museum’s teachers in some precious sketchbooks that will be seen in the exhibition. Finally, in May (it was scheduled to be in February coinciding with ARCO) a film of Philippe Parreno on the Quinta del Sordo and Goya’s black paintings, which premiered at the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, on the occasion of the great anthology that this museum dedicated to Goya. This audiovisual montage will be installed very close to the rooms where the black paintings hang.

'San Diego de Alcalá receiving alms', by Annibale Carracci
‘San Diego de Alcalá receiving alms’, by Annibale Carracci – PRADO MUSEUM

Temporary exhibitions

Contemporary art aside, there will also be temporary exhibitions dedicated to Annibale Carracci (centered on the frescoes of the Herrera Chapel, it is organized together with the MNAC and the Palazzo Barberini in Rome), Luis Paret and Alcázar (fifty paintings will be shown, in addition to drawings and engravings) – «it seems that there is no life beyond Goya», Falomir warns-; the marquis of Santillana (He was an innovative artistic promoter of the 15th century), carried out in collaboration with the National Library; Francisco Pradilla (the centenary of his death was commemorated last year) … In addition, there will be an exhibition dedicated to lGoya’s sketches for the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande, another focused on Spanish artists in Naples at the beginning of the Cinquecento … And a curiosity: an olfactory exposure. Alejandro Vergara will be the curator of an exhibition focused on smell around one of the paintings in the series dedicated to the senses painted by Rubens and Brueghel the Elder. With the collaboration of one of the best perfumers in the world, the scents that this painting ‘gives off’ will be identified. Art not only to see but also to smell.

Without questioning the quality of the scheduled samples, yes the presence of a mega-exhibition (or blockbuster) is missing -of great media pull-, to which the Prado has us accustomed every year. Although the general tendency of large museums is to reduce them and look more at their own collections, the truth is that some of them maintain them. This is the case of the National Gallery in London, which this year will open exhibitions by Rafael, Picasso and Ingres, Lucian Freud and Winslow Homer.

Back with the women

There will be a couple of exhibition itineraries: these are not exhibitions but tours of a selection of museum works on a specific theme. One of them will be ‘The Prado in feminine. Patrons and benefactors of the museum, of Isabel the Catholic a Isabel Clara Eugenia‘. The aim is to recognize the prominent role played by women as collectors, patrons and promoters of royal collections. Thus, for example, two of the museum’s treasures (‘Charles V at the Battle of Mühlberg’ by Titian and ‘The Descent’ by Van der Weyden) belonged to Mary of Hungary. The objective is that this itinerary has continuity in later years, dedicated to other benefactors and patrons such as Isabel de Farnesio The Cristina from Sweden. They ask the director of the Prado why, if there is a commitment to women in the museum, this project remains a simple itinerary and is not an exhibition. «We wanted to draw attention, to focus on this fact. There will be short-term exhibitions.

Ionic Gallery and Hall of Kingdoms

Regarding the permanent collection, in April the inauguration of the sculpture collection in the Ionian Gallery, which will exhibit 53 classics not exhibited so far. Regarding the Hall of Kingdoms, the work bidding phase ends on February 25. Apparently there are already a dozen candidates. Structural works are expected to begin in late spring or early summer, which is expected to last 36 months. Although Falomir doubts if this deadline can be met: «The works in a historic building you know when they start but not when they end ». The museum already has experience with the Casón works, which lasted for twelve years. The director of the Prado confirms that the paintings that once hung in the main room of the building, called Salón de Reinos, will return to their place of origin. It is not yet clear what will be exhibited on the top floor: an open space measuring 80 by 17.5 meters. One option could be for temporary exhibitions to go there, since Moneo’s rooms were not conceived for temporary exhibitions, but for warehouses. Another problem will be how the maintenance of the Hall of Kingdoms will be financed, which will cost a few 7 million a year.

Economic situation

The Plan Trianual del Prado, approved at the last meeting of the Board of Trustees. At the moment, Miguel Falomir anticipates that “there has not been a decrease in private sponsorship, there has even been a small increase. In 2021 we recovered a significant part of the box office revenue (7 million euros) ». Despite the fragility of the system, Falomir thanks the Government for the increase in the state contribution to the museum. Has passed from 28.2 million in 2021 to 34.5 million this year: «Before the pandemic, it was barely enough to pay 60% of the payroll. The Prado is not in such a dramatic economic situation, it is not so critical, so it has not been necessary to execute a contingency plan. During the pandemic, we pulled the remaining cash, there has been a very notable cost containment and resources have been optimized.

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