Sunday, July 26, 2015. Barcelona. We did more leisurely touring of the Ciutat Vella (old city) on our own. After breakfast, we walked down to the Museu Picasso. I had last seen this museum in 1987 when it was much smaller. Now it contains a broad array of Picasso’s work. One of the most fascinating exhibits was his re-vision of Velasquez’ Las Meninas, which we had seen at the Prado with Carlos. In his painting Velasquez explores the art of painting, perspective and other ways of depicting points of view.
Not only did Picasso rework Velasquez’ original scene in his own manner, he created many additional works, taking figures and fragments from the scene, focusing on them in detail and then redoing them in many variations. The whole set of paintings fascinates me. Luckily the Museu has a book on sale explaining the whole set and comparing Picasso with Velasquez. So I bought it to read on the plane back home.
In another room there was a series of paintings of pigeons as seen from the window of his studio. According to the curators’ notes on the wall, Picasso considered this set as part of his Las Meninas project because he worked on it when he needed to get away from the intensity of that project. I would love to get prints of these for the apartment.
We then had our first daytime excursion to La Rambles, including lunch. After that we meandered through the many alleys of the old city with Anne Mei shopping and father wishing that more stores had seats for poor fathers, husbands and boyfriends.
In 1987 Catalans resisted being spoken to in Spanish by acting as if they didn’t understand me. Believable, given my Tex-Mex accent then. But elsewhere in Spain 30 years ago people would respond positively to my gabacho Spanish. How cute! Not in Catalonia. Trying to speak to them in Spanish presumed that Spanish was their language. This afternoon’s form of resistance in a tea shop was to ask me follow-up questions in rapid-fire Catalan. Then pleasantly switch to English when I looked dumbfounded. Anne Mei finally found what she liked at a jewelry store run by an Austrian who had come to Barcelona after the 2008 downturn. He got my approval for having a comfortable seat. Supper at a restaurant in Plaça Reial off La Rambles. We are becoming addicted to chicken paella and pasta bolognese.