Bellas Artes is one of the big dogs, obviously.
As such, it has a very fine collection, and since this is a blog post, I will not be providing a thorough overview. For one thing, the museum has a very nice website partially available in English (and a guide app only in Spanish). So I’m just going to do a light overview! There’s just so much art!
Obviously, as a national fine arts museum, Bellas Artes has a strong collection of Argentine and Latin American art. The international collection trends noticeably to European art. Let’s have a peek, starting with these things, because I am a big fan of hair decoration:
These are peinetónes, very large versions of the Spanish peineta that were distinct to the fashion of the Rio de la Plata region in the 1830s, until shitty men took to criticizing the elaborate and expensive combs in the most sexist way possible (“terrible women neglect their families and whore themselves out in pursuit of this extravagance!”), and their use declined. You can find several contemporary illustrations mocking the peinetón. Certainly, there are reasonable criticisms to be made of fashions that are uncomfortable, inconvenient, and costly, but “look at these shallow immoral bimbos” is just the worst.
On to the older European stuff!
Early 1500s Virgin and Child with St John from Florence.
This is a Belgian-made tapestry from the early 1600s. As someone who can barely sit still long enough to embroider a simple outline figure on a handkerchief, I am always deeply impressed by tapestries.
This is a 17th century wood sculpture, “An angel with the head of St John the Baptist.” This stuff is all pretty typical of the time and region.
Moving forward, time-wise, the collection includes examples from a lot of the big dudes, El Greco, Rubens, Rembrant, Degas, van Gogh, Monet, Kandinsky, Pollock, Rothko, and so on.
There’s a lot of Rodin, owing to the museum’s first director’s admiration of him.
But let’s turn our attention to the Argentine artists, my very favorite feature of Bellas Artes.
And into more modern styles:
And mixed media works, such as Jorge de la Vega’s “A Timid Person’s Intimacy” (1963):
There are also, of course, Argentine sculptors represented, such as Alberto Heredia, who worked with discarded items to create his censorship allegory “The Gagged” in the early 1970s.
I’m also tacking on Joaquín Torres Garcia, who wasn’t Argentine but Uruguayan, because I really love his stuff so much.
Finally, here’s views of a couple of galleries, to give you a feel for the place, and the difference between the classical art galleries and the modern ones.
The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes is big and pink and hard to miss at Av. de Libertador 1473 in Recoleta. You can get there on a lot of bus lines and the H line of the subway. It’s open 11am to 8pm Tuesdays through Fridays and 10am to 8pm Saturdays and Sundays. It’s free for Argentina residents and 100 pesos (currenetly about 3 bucks US) for non-residents, although it is free on Tuesdays and 645pm-8pm Wednesdays through Sundays. There’s a free English tour at 230pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. Most of the signage is also in English.
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