Tag Archives: Berardo

A Walk On The Modern Side of Art In Berardo Museum

For a long time I liked to define myself as a person who loves everything classic – music, movies, art. I was very proud with me speaking freely about old masters’ art – Leonardo, Micelangelo, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Goya, etc. I took a great pleasure of educating myself about it from books like Kennet Clark’s “Civilisation”, E. H. Gombrich’s “History of art” and the biographies of amazing artist such as Walter Issacson’s “Leonardo da Vinci”.

Andy Warhol, Brillo box, 1964-68, snapped by me in Berardo.

Not that I ever thought that modern art is not an art (thanks God). I just really liked projecting myself with a man of classic taste. Until one day the chance brought me to Lisbon alone. And I had to find something to do there. I decided that visiting the modern art centered Museu Coleção Berardo will be a good idea. I quickly educated myself about what I will see there with Will Gompertz’s book “What are you looking at?” and this was the moment that changed forever the way I was experiencing art.

I already explained to what extent Gompertz’s book has broaden my understanding of art. When I set my foot in Berardo’s permanent collection the feeling was like walking across 150 years of history that coincided with the way Gompertz himself told the story of art in “What are you looking at?”.

Óscar  Domniguez, Le Couple, 1937, Surrealism art, snapped by me in Berardo

Pre-impressionism, Impressioism, Post-Impressionism, Primitivism, Cubism, Futurism and so on in the span of 150 years until we reach Postmodernism and art now. One thing lead to another that lead to another. Just as the evolution of biology, the evolution of art is also connected in so many ways and variations.

Salvador Dali, White Aphrodisiac Telephone, 1933, snapped by me in Berado.

The last 150 years of history, not only in art, are times full of events that shaped the civilisation in the way we see it today. By reading Gompertz’s written history of modern art and then going to a physical space that represented the art itself that those 150 years brought, I felt fully immersed in the meaning of John Ruskin’s words:

Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last.

John Ruskin

The world we live in is complicated and will probably get more and more complicated. In times like these that one always wonder what’s real and what’s not, art is the most trustworthy medium of them all. History is a subject which we learn from school books, then maybe in university and from popular books. But then comes art. If we want to feel present and connected with everything that happened before us, I think that art is inseparable part of the world that we should immerse ourselves in it.

Walking across the halls of Berardo Museum and remembering the words of such a pronounced art critique as Will Gompertz gave me the feeling that I made the deepest penetration in history as a subject I ever did.

Roy Lichtenstein, Mirror, 1971, snapped by me in Berardo

Read my review about “What are you looking at?” by Will Gompertz here.

Review: What are you looking at?

My artdissey around the European museums took an unexpected turn this year when I planned my summer surf vacation. It turned out that during my surf travelings I will have to spend a day in Lisbon, Portugal by myself. So the first thing that I did was to google the “best museums in Lisbon”. There were plenty of results, but however the Museu Coleção Berardo grabbed my attention the most.

A pic I took on the outside of Berardo Museum in Lisbon.

Basically I had a whole month before my vacation, I knew where I’d go the day I arrive in Lisbon and I knew that I need to find a way to understand what I will be looking at when I get to the Berardo Museum. This is how I found the book of Will Gompretz “What are you looking at?”. Turned out that the author was an ex director of the Tate Modern museum in London. I didn’t need any further thinking to know that this is the book I have to read before going to such a big modern art museum as Berardo.

“Art is always to an extent about trying to create order out of chaos .”

The book captures the evolution of modern art form impressionism (late 19th century to pop art (1960s-70s) and contemporary art. The author claims that it is written for beginners, but honestly when I read it I felt like I went through 2 semesters of art school.

As someone who visited couple of modern art museum around Europe, it was very interesting for me to read about some of the things I have previously looked at, but now put in a chronological perspective through the understanding of one of the most well respected art curators in the world.

With this in mind I must note that it was extremely interesting for me to read about the impressionist painters. A generation of artists whose work I’ve already seen a great deal of in the Musee D’Orsay in Paris. All of the painters that impressed me at D’Orsay were mentioned and discussed in Gompretz’s guide to the modern art.

“Paint, for the Impressionists, became a medium whose material properties were being celebrated as opposed to being disguised behind the artifice of a pictorial illusion.”

One of my favorite parts in the book is when Gompretz writes about Picassso. Picasso is basically the Jesus Christ of art. At D’Orsay I visited a temporary exhibiton of paintings from his early blue and rose periods. In”What are you looking at?” I learned more about his later works and development as an artist.

Pablo Picasso. Madame Canals [Benedetta Bianco]. Paris, [autumn] 1905.  Snapped by me in Musee D’Orsay in October 2018.

Aside the fact that the book was extremely enriching in terms of names of big artists and their biographies, it was a great journey through the different art movements. I was very pleased to learn in such a interesting way about how the art movements emerged in Europe and spread their influence across the Atlantic ocean and beyond.

Head, 1938-41 by Jackson Pollock. Snapped by me in the Berardo Museum.

I always thought that it’s a bit pretentious to talk about art in term of “…isms” but when I educated myself with this amazing piece of a modern art guide, I couldn’t help myself but talk with the same vocabulary with my friends. See what books can do to us? 😉

Campbell’s Soup Cans, Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987). Snapped by me in the Berardo Museum in August 2019.

You can find the book from amazon or audible, if you prefer listening to it.

Have a look at my journey inside the Berardo Museum here.