Saturday, September 8, 2012

When "Trickle Down" actually works.

Entry stairs in the CaixaForum
Madrid is "museum central". There must be 20 museums of various types scattered around the city, and that's not counting the marvelous parks, parkways, and botanical gardens which are artistic and "museumy" in their own ways.

Along the Paseo Prado are five art attractions: the Reina Sophia, the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Real Jardin Botanico which is filled with statues, and CaixaForum. In addition, the Plaza de Neptuno and the Plaza de Cibeles feature incredible oft-photographed sculptures and dramatic fountains.

The unusual and modern museum is the CaixaForum. Caixa is pronounced Cah-ees-ah. In Catalan it means box. There is a bank named Caixa too. I didn't see anything to verify this, but I would guess that the bank might have a lot to do with the museum's existence.

Inside, the CaixaForum is reminiscent of the Guggenheim in New York City, the way the stairs wind upwards. On exhibit currently are many works of William Blake and of subsequent artists whom he inspired. Blake worked mostly in tempura paints which have not withstood the test of time well. Many of his works are faded, but what sensitivity! He was interested in the religions of the world, philosophy, and ancient art, attributes that made him an artist and poet well ahead of his time. He formulated his own mythology complete with heroic stories as well as the occasional buddhist thought. One quote was "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is - infinite!"
Wall of living plants 

And on the outside, the building in front of the museum has been turned into a vertical garden. Concrete forms of various sizes with pools of dirt were built and then planted with a great array of different plants. The entire thing is watered with a system which trickles water down the wall, watering each plant as it makes its way down. The only reason it works is that no plant is denied in favor of others, and all the water trickles down, none of it is siphoned off at various levels. A good analogy for the economic trickle downers. The overall effect is a growing wall, lush with life.