A Self-Reflexive Gaze

Pere Borrell del Caso, “Escaping from the Critics,” 1874, oil on canvas, 76 x 63 cm. (c) Madrid, Collection of the Bank of Spain 2016

What is the idea of art? What about meta-painting? The Museo del Prado invites visitors to explore and reflect on the changing status of painting and other arts during a magnetic exhibition featuring hundreds of outstanding artworks.

More than 100 paintings, prints, and sculptures loosely based on the royal collections and Spanish art are the subjects of a fascinating exhibition currently on view at Spain’s Museo del Prado. On view through February 19, “Meta-Painting: A Journey to the Idea of Art” will encourage its audience to embark on a self-reflexive experiment, using art to “analyze issues such as the origins of artistic activity; religious and mythological accounts; the ‘magical’ nature of images and their devotional function; the emergence of the idea of ‘art’; the relationship between pictorial and real space; the way in which artists have represented themselves or have reflected on their creative and working environment; and the fundamental concerns of art theory,” as the museum reports.

The exhibition is, additionally, a celebration of the museum’s 197th anniversary. Continuing, the Prado writes, “The exhibition’s ‘journey’ is divided into different phases. Fifteen sections focus on the relationship between art, the artist and society, each one of which looks at a specific issue, among them: the powers attributed to religious images; the role played by the ‘painting within the painting’; artists’ attempts to break through the pictorial space and continue it towards the viewer; the origins and practice of the idea of artistic tradition; portraits and self-portraits of artists; places for the creation and collecting of art; the origin of the modern concept of art history; the subjectivity that emerged in self-portraits from the Enlightenment onwards; and the importance of the concepts of love, death and fame in the modern artistic discourse.”

To learn more, visit the Museo del Prado.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.


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