The Art of Buenos Aires

Art! Every city has it and in Buenos Aires it’s pretty cool. I’ve been to several museums and cinematic shows, so here’s a run-down of what I’ve seen:

Museo Evita — Sponsored by the Eva Peron Foundation and located in her former home in Palermo, this museum gives a very nice overview of her entire life. The exhibits include photos, videos, audio recordings, and even a display of some of her outfits. It’s a quaint museum but not too special, although I have heard that the restaurant there is very good.

Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA): Situated in a very classy part of Recoleta, the MALBA features various works of modern art, including sculptures, photographs, paintings, and some weird contraption that moves on its own — presumably with magnets. It isn’t too large, but I definitely thought it was worth it, and it had some pretty cool stuff! When I returned with my parents a few months later, some of the exhibits had changed, but I preferred what had been there the first time.

Palacio de Aguas Corrientes (Palace of Running Water): This isn’t technically a “museum,” but rather a very decorative building used to be the water storage facility for the city in the 1900s. In honor of its 100th anniversary, free guided tours were offered at the end of July, so my friends and I decided to go for it. I know what you must be thinking — and trust me, I was thinking the same thing — how interesting could a tour of an old water storage building be? But, lo and behold, it was actually one of the better guided tours I’ve been on in Buenos Aires (I believe it was sponsored by the government). Sure, we got to see the building, but the tour also featured several live reenactments, audio and visual effects, and a borderline obnoxious tourist who (spoiler alert!) turned out to be part of the tour all along. Considering the subject matter, it was all extremely well put together, and actually sort of interesting.

Museo Nacional de las Bellas Artes: This is a pretty nice museum with various collections of art, ranging from your typical renaissance images to portraits and sculptures. When we went, there was an awesome exhibit of kinetic art — art (in this case, mostly sculpture type things but also some 2-D works) that moves, and includes some sort of light display. Most of the displays also had a button that you had to press to make them start — a cool and unexpected interactive feature!

Museo Solar: Comparatively small, this museum features paintings by a Chinese engineer, most of which seem to be very artistic and colorful blueprints for buildings or structures. My friend absolutely loved this museum when he went, and said that I just HAD to visit. It didn’t live up to his praise.

Museo de Arte Decorativo: When my parents and I went to this museum there was a special exhibition called “600 Years of Italian Art in Buenos Aires,” and we had a lively discussion about the exact meaning of that title. Ultimately, we concluded that the exhibit did not feature Italian art that had been in Buenos Aires for 600 years (as my mom originally thought), but rather that Italian art dating back 600 years was being shown in Buenos Aires (as my dad and I argued from the beginning). The art itself was mainly religious — not quite my cup of tea but enjoyable nonetheless.

Centro Cultural Recoleta: Located right near the cemetery, this free gallery had a series of very stunning desert photos, a collection of photo portraits of famous porteños, and an exhibit of photographs from siege of Leningrad during WWII. There were actually a lot more rooms, but I never got a chance to see them.

Centro Cultural Borges: On the last morning that my parents were here I took them to see this center that was decided to the life of Jorge Luis Borges. We all enjoyed it, and my mom actually thought it was one of the best museums she had ever been to (she is a poet, after all).

We saw a documentary type thing at Teatro San Martin one night. I say a “documentary type thing” because I’m not really sure what genre it was. Filmed in the famous Recoleta Cemetery here, it featured a series of people (I have no idea if they were actors, or volunteers, or what) reading books, essays, letters, and other texts that were written by the people buried in the cemetery, while sitting or standing next to said person’s tomb. The passages (in Spanish, of course) were about Argentine nationalism and the various wars that the country has fought, and seemed to have been written between perhaps 1700-1950. The film was very nicely made, and a somber reminder of this country’s history.

The next artsy movie (I employ the qualifier artsy because we did see the new Batman movie, though I’m sure you don’t want to read about that, at least not on this blog) that we saw was a series of animated shorts at Palacio de Glace in Recoleta. We had actually tried to see it the previous night at what we later realized was the wrong time, only to find ourselves unable to open the ominous black doors of the building. But the following day we returned at the right time, completely unsure of what to expect. The shorts turned out to all be in French with Spanish subtitles, and varied from charming reflections on fatherhood, to a bird that hijacks a “migration” airplane, to a depressed man living in a box whose life is controlled by computers. There was also a nice exhibit of all styles of visual art, which I went back to see a few weeks later.

2 responses to “The Art of Buenos Aires

  1. I enjoyed reading this survey of art. Yes, I did think the Borges cultural center was wonderful. The poem that I wrote, dedicated to you, is here:

    “BUENOS AIRES” (for Elizabeth in Bs.As.)

    City windswept, August-skimmed, aromatic
    as if scented by women’s wrists.
    As if the sweet branches of the ever-spreading tree near La Biela
    were perfumed strands of Portena hair.
    As if those love poems paved onto Avenida Callao
    (“Querida…Querida…”) were meadows
    where senoritas, barefoot, gather.
    As if thick graffiti sprayed
    across old train cars or older cathedral walls
    were a motherland’s potions “Ahora o Nunca”
    “No Olvide” “Trabajadoras.”
    And this El Tango tile painted in enamel
    by a patient fileteadora
    is a fruited vineyard all my daughter’s own,
    su propio vinedo..

  2. Glad to see you keeping up this blog right to the end. And also that you’re such a “culture vulture.”

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