I have to admit I’ve never been a huge fan of art galleries. Not that I’m some boorish philistine; I love a bit of poetry, I’ll happily spend an evening in a posh concert hall, and there was a time when you couldn’t keep me out of the cinema. Art galleries, though, have never really been my thing. There’s a lot of standing around and after 20 minutes or so of looking at one painting after another they all start to blur into one. Also, the way people talk about art can be really annoying, as they tend to go overboard and gush in flowery language that often doesn’t communicate very much of substance at all.

Having said all of that, last week I found myself not in one art gallery but two, and both on the same day. No one had dragged me along against my will; I went voluntarily in a professional capacity. The two art galleries I visited were the Picasso Museum and the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona, and I was there to cover the opening of the new Miró-Picasso exhibition for a news agency. And let me say straight off, I found this simultaneous exhibition that commemorates the 50th anniversary of Picasso’s death to be absolutely fantastic.

We have a review of the Miró-Picasso exhibition in this issue of the magazine, and you can see the two great artists together on the front cover. As the article explains, this dual exhibition is unique in that not only is it the first time that the two cultural institutions that bear the artists’ names have worked together on a project like this, but the curators have managed to bring together over 300 artworks by both men and it is highly unlikely that this will be repeated for many decades. In other words, it is worth going to the dual exhibition not least to see paintings such as Miró’s The Farm or Picasso’s The Three Dancers that you would normally have to get on a plane and cross an ocean to see.

After my visit, I began to wonder where my sudden enthusiasm for art had come from, and I came up with a theory. There is no doubt that Picasso and Miró fully deserve their reputations as two of the most important artists of the 20th century. The quality of their work stands out and seeing them displayed side by side as they are in this exhibition, it can even be a little overwhelming. And that’s just it: when what you are seeing is artistry of exceptional quality, you can’t help but appreciate it, even if what you are looking at is not normally something you would get excited about. You might not be a big football fan but you can’t look away when watching Messi perform at his best. You might not particularly like opera but tears come unbidden to your eye when you hear Pavarotti at full blast. This is what I think happened to me at the Miró-Picasso exhibition: I got carried away by the sheer excellence of the art. For me at least, that is a rare feeling but one I am eager to repeat.

Who knows, I might even go visit another art gallery this weekend?


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