Posts About 'Art'

Time Magazine Highlights One Day in Lisbon

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Time Magazine - Lisbon

The latest issue of the weekly Time magazine (on sale worldwide) dedicates two full pages to Lisbon with a four-hour itinerary. It says “it’s surprising how much of Lisbon can be covered in a few hours, from eccentric bookstores to colorful flea markets and magnificent monuments,” then goes on to present a step-by-step guide to the center of the city, stopping mostly in off-the-beaten-path attractions.
Describing the Portuguese capital as “a stately white city, a scholars’ lair, a seafaring hub,” it starts in the Cais do Sodré station, going up the hill towards Chiado, stopping for a glass of Port Wine at Solar do Vinho do Porto. The author then suggests a “must-do” ride on tram 28 to the “magnificent vista of Lisbon’s splendor” from the Graça viewpoint.
Another curious stop recommended is the Fado Museum dedicated to Lisbon’s music “through highly imaginative and loving interactive displays.” That should be followed by another museum on the riverfront, the Orient Museum, “a glitzy showcase of Lisbon’s other heritage: the Portuguese colonies,” adding that “it’s the next best thing to a trip to Goa or Macau.”
The itinerary ends with a ferry ride across the river for views of “Lisbon’s gleaming urban topography and the 25th of April Bridge.”

The World Heritage Fado and Other Sounds of Lisbon

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Portuguese music

Fado has just been given World Heritage status by UNESCO, meaning it’s protected as “intangible cultural heritage of humanity,” joining other unique cultural expressions such as the tango and flamenco. This musical style (which is actually more like a poetic recital) is strongly connected to the streets of Lisbon where it was born and has come to be symbolic of the Portuguese soul. Those interested in listening to Fado should look for the greatest Fado diva of all time, Amalia Rodrigues. She defined the style of the genre and has influenced an entire generation of young singers. The album to get is “The Art of Amalia Rodrigues” which should be available wherever World Music is sold. The queen of the new generation of “fadistas” is Grammy-nominated Mariza, and her album “Fado em Mim” is a great introduction to the singer and Fado music itself.

Not Fado but greatly representative of the sound of Lisbon is Madredeus, a band that received great acclaim and worldwide success in the 1990s. Their “Best Of” collection is called “Antologia” where you’ll hear their now-classic hits mixing the influences of Fado and modern folk. A former member has gone solo to great success, with his album “Cinema” having been considered one of the albums of the year by Billboard magazine in 2004. That’s Rodrigo Leão, a musician/composer with an obvious passion for Lisbon reflected in his music.
Also mixing Lisbon’s Fado with folk and pop is Dulce Pontes, a well-known name in World Music. Her biggest hit is “Canção do Mar,” first performed by Amália Rodrigues. You’ve heard that song if you watched the movie “Primal Fear” (starring Richard Gere) or the NBC/TNT drama “Southland” (it’s the theme song). Pontes’ “Best Of” CD is one of the top-selling Portuguese albums of all time.

To understand the relevance of Fado in Lisbon and on Portuguese culture in general, visit the Fado Museum whenever you’re in the city.

3 Very Strange Finds in Lisbon

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Chinese ceramic bowl

Archaeological excavations in an old convent have found a piece considered to be unique in the world for its rare erotic images on a Chinese ceramic bowl from the 1600s. It seems to have been painted to “teach” several sexual practices, and these types of explicit images were thought to have only been used in similar pieces in the late 1800s. How would such a thing end up in a convent, of all places? Well, for one thing, Lisbon’s convents weren’t always the most sacred places on Earth. Their male and female residents were actually known to live with bigger freedoms than those on the “outside world.” Inquisition documents show that love affairs and homosexuality were actually frequent. Many nuns were even lovers of the Portuguese kings. One of them even had to build a palace just for his bastard children born of those relationships (that palace is now the Spanish Embassy). These nuns were also quite rich, receiving precious gifts which may explain the origin of this well-kept treasure.

Recent research has found that one of the mummies in Lisbon’s Archaeology Museum died of the first known case of prostate cancer in an Egyptian mummy. Using scans and X-ray technology, they came to the conclusion that this is a unique specimen and the second oldest case of cancer found to date, dating from 305 to 30 BC. This is even more special for Lisbon’s museum, since it only has a few mummies on display, as most of its collection is finds from around Portugal, dating from the Celtic, Germanic, Roman and Moorish occupations of the country.

Investigators looking into a burial site of the victims of Lisbon’s 1755 earthquake have come to a macabre conclusion. During the apocalyptic days after the catastrophe, the city was a living hell, where even cannibalism took place. Some survivors were actually murdered for food, judging from the evidence found on many skulls. Many of the victims were shot or simply hit on the head, which in itself would not prove cannibalism if a bone hadn’t also been found to have had careful cuts made with a big knife used to help peel off the meat.

5 Major Reasons Why You Must Visit Lisbon Before the End of the Year

Monday, November 7th, 2011

War Propaganda

So what if the weather won’t allow you to have the typical Lisbon experience (culture and beach)? Even if it rains, it won’t be freezing cold (even in December), and you’ll be able to catch some world-class temporary exhibitions that invite you to go indoors. Here’s what’s happening in Lisbon until 2012:

There are even more reasons to visit the free Berardo Museum. One of its temporary exhibitions (which can be seen together with the permanent collection) is a fascinating display of war propaganda. It includes over 200 original posters from the United States, Germany, England, France, Italy, Japan, and the former Soviet Union.

The City Museum presents a selection of 257 photographs from the Frida Kahlo Museum’s collection. Kahlo is recognized as one of the top female artists of all time, and these works served as a record and working tool. You can see it until January 29.

The Gulbenkian Museum has put together works by some of the world’s major artists, including Picasso, Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh and Matisse. What each piece has in common is still life imagery. Some belong to the museum’s own collection, others are loans from other museums from around Europe. It’s all on display until January 8.

The Cordoaria Nacional building (found on the way to Jeronimos Monastery) is presenting a great attraction for families. It’s Europe’s largest dinosaur exhibition, allowing visitors to understand the natural setting of these extinct animals. Portugal is one of the countries with the most dinosaur fossils, found in the last couple of decades by the coastline north of Lisbon (a total of 25 dinosaur remains have been found). On display until January 1st are life-size replicas of these gigantic reptiles.

The Paula Rego Museum in Cascais has added new works by Rego, considered one of Europe’s greatest living artists. They’re in two temporary exhibits (to be seen until December 31st) and include more than 100 iconic pieces from the permanent collection. It’s all free, and a must-see if you’re going by the sea in Cascais now that it’s no longer beach weather.

The 10 Grandest Baroque Attractions in Lisbon

Monday, October 24th, 2011

The word “Baroque” derives from the Portuguese word “barroco.” Portugal is renowned for this architectural style and although Lisbon is characterized by its architectural diversity, it’s essentially a baroque city. That’s because most of it was rebuilt following the earthquake of 1755 and now many of its grandest monuments are filled with baroque splendor. The magnificence of many of the city’s interiors is also the result of the discovery of gold in Brazil, giving Lisbon a profusion of golden decorations. Here we present the 10 baroque attractions you should not miss.

Sao Roque Church, Lisbon

Home to what is said to be “the world’s most expensive chapel,” this deceptively simple church outside has one of the city’s (and Europe’s) richest baroque interiors.

Estrela Basilica, Lisbon

This domed basilica is one of the city’s most monumental churches, covered with marble inside. It includes an impressive baroque nativity scene.

Menino de Deus Church, Lisbon

It’s usually closed, so this church hides one of the city’s most remarkable baroque interiors that mostly survived the 1755 earthquake.

Madre de Deus Church, Lisbon

The church of the convent that’s now home to the Tile Museum is truly magnificent. Covered in gold from floor to ceiling, it also has some outstanding tile panels and paintings.

Paulistas Church, Lisbon

Also known as Paulistas Church, this is one of Lisbon’s most impressive yet least-known churches, covered with baroque and rococo decorations.

Pena Church, Lisbon

Yet another church with an ordinary façade but with an extraordinary interior, covered in gilt.

Sao Miguel Church, Lisbon

One of the city’s many secrets is this church in the middle of Alfama’s maze of streets. It only opens for mass, revealing a rich baroque interior.

National Pantheon, Lisbon

The resting place of many of Portugal’s leading figures is a domed monument that took centuries to complete.

Martyrs Basilica, Lisbon

In addition to a beautiful ceiling painting, the interior of this basilica surprises for the well-preserved baroque details that fill the entire space.

Encarnacao Church, Lisbon

Found in the center of Chiado, this church has one of the city’s most elegant interiors, mixing the baroque and the neoclassical styles.

5 Places to Discover in Lisbon Right Now

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Museu do Chiado, Lisbon

Medeiros e Almeida Museum
It’s celebrating its 10th anniversary on June 1st with free admission, but despite being open for a decade, only a couple of guidebooks have found it. So it remains one of Lisbon’s least-known attractions, even when holding one of its most important private collections of art. From paintings to decorative art, this is an extraordinary collection that could complement a visit to the Gulbenkian Museum.

Chiado Museum
Also celebrating a birthday, but this one with an extra zero, is the National Museum of Contemporary Art. Better known as the Chiado Museum, it is found in a very small space for such a large collection, so only part of it is on display in temporary exhibitions. Finally, at 100 years old, it will apparently expand at the end of the year. The building next to it will be vacant and the process of incorporating it into the museum will begin.

Monsanto Park
Very few know it, but Lisbon has one of the largest urban parks in the world. It’s a protected forest that’s been cleaned up in the last few years, and in addition to outdoor activities, it’s also been used as a stage for concerts. This June, on Sundays, you’ll be able to catch free concerts, part of the annual OutJazz festival that takes place in several parts of the city.

The Greenhouse
It was closed for almost two years for restoration works, and just reopened last month. This greenhouse in Edward VII Park is a wonderland of hundreds of species of plants from around the world, and with a certain magical atmosphere to relax in the middle of the city.

Sky Bar
It’s only open in the summer, and it’s now back for another season of cocktails overlooking the city. Found at the top of the Tivoli Lisboa Hotel in Avenida da Liberdade, this rooftop terrace is perfect to admire Lisbon after a day of sightseeing, and having a drink before or after dinner.

Lisbon’s 5 Best Small Museums

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Lisbon is essentially an outdoors city, so few visit it with a long list of museums to see. That’s despite some wonderful collections such as that of the Berardo or MuDe museums. Most who do go to a museum, often choose the Gulbenkian, the Ancient Art or even the Coaches Museum, overlooking other smaller spaces.
But if you’re coming to Lisbon with culture in mind, you’ll likely want to see quite a number of collections (the Tile Museum is especially magnificent).
Of the smaller or least-visited museums, these are five you may want to consider:

Museu do Fado, Lisbon

Fado Museum

Medeiros e Almeida Museum
After Gulbenkian’s, this is Lisbon’s best private art collection. Housed in a mansion where a rich local businessman used to live, it presents European paintings by names such as Tiepolo and Rubens, as well as a Rembrandt self-portrait, classic European decorative art, and Chinese porcelain.

Fado Museum
If you’ve never heard Fado or are not a fan, you’ll surely overlook this museum. However, you just may gain a new appreciation for Lisbon’s music after a visit, or at least will leave with a better sense of the local culture. This is a very well thought-out museum, with a multilingual audio guide and multimedia displays which place the music within the social and political context of 19th and 20th-century Portugal.

Chiado Museum
This museum suffers from lack of space. Its collection is the biggest of the country’s contemporary artists, but not everything can be displayed at the same time. So it arranges thematic exhibitions with a number of the works of the permanent collection together with other temporary ones. Once a planned expansion is finally completed, it will certainly become one of Lisbon’s best museums.

Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva Museum
Vieira da Silva was one of Portugal’s top contemporary artists, and Arpad Szenes was her Hungarian husband. Although they spent a large part of their artistic life in Paris, they had a studio in Lisbon close to where this museum is now found. It reunites many of the husband-and-wife’s works in a former silk factory, and should not be missed by anyone who enjoys contemporary art.

São Roque Museum
Created by the Jesuits in the 17th century, this museum has a small but very rich collection of sacred art, including sculptures, paintings, tapestries, and relics said to be unique in the world. Adjoining the museum is a church with a very plain façade but with an extraordinary interior, including “the world’s most expensive chapel,” built in Rome in the 18th century using only the most precious materials.

The Art of the Early Days of the First Global Empire Now on Display in Lisbon

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Orient Museum, LisbonThe early days of the world’s first truly global empire are currently being brought to life in Lisbon’s Orient Museum. The Portuguese were the first Europeans in Japan, the last ones to leave China, and controlled a large part of India for centuries, and it is that European-Asian exchange of cultures, art, and traditions that can be seen in this new exhibition.
The Portuguese introduced Christianity and Western weapons and styles to the East, while the Asians provided spices and silks to Europe through Portugal.
The Japanese were particularly fascinated by the Portuguese, especially by their Western facial features and fashions (including never-before-seen buttons), but they considered them to be culturally inferior. The Portuguese (or Europeans in general) were nicknamed “Namban,” meaning “Barbarians of the South” (although they were actually from the West and Northern Hemisphere), and “Namban art” is any artistic expression from Japan and China in the 16th and 17th centuries, relating to their contact with Europeans.
This exhibition in the Orient Museum is called “Namban Commissions: The Portuguese in Modern-Age Japan,” and presents close to 60 rare pieces from various collections, including extraordinarily-illustrated screens and military masks.
You can see them all until May 31st.

5 Free Things to Do in Lisbon This December

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

MUDE - Design Museum, Lisbon

A New Look at the Design and Fashion Museum Collection
Lisbon’s Design and Fashion Museum is always free, and this month (until January 30th) you may see part of the collection rearranged by Tenente, one of Portugal’s top fashion designers. He selected about 30 outfits by some of the world’s top designers, from Christian Lacroix to Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, and Jean Paul Gaultier among others, and presents some of his own creations as well.

Architecture Triennial Exhibition in the Berardo Museum
The Berardo Museum of Modern Art is one of Lisbon’s major cultural attractions, and it’s taking part in the city’s architecture triennial. This exhibition (which is free just like the rest of the museum) discusses the world’s housing conditions based on the specific needs of each region of the globe, and how architecture is defined by local solutions.

The Golden Age of Portuguese Art
The Ancient Art Museum is presenting an exhibition about the “golden age” of Portuguese art (the artists and works created between 1450 and 1550). The stars of the 160 pieces on display are the famous “St. Vincent Panels” which are always a highlight of the museum, but here they’re “dissected” and explained through infrared images.
Most of the other works are part of the museum’s collection, but many were also brought from the Évora Museum, while others are Portuguese works now found in museums in Italy, France, Belgium and Poland.
This exhibition is free if you go on a Sunday until 2PM.

The International Urban Culture Festival
The Lisbon International Urban Culture Festival is taking place around the city until December 11, and one place you should not miss is Palácio Verride, a pink palatial building by the Santa Catarina viewpoint where dozens of Portuguese and foreign artists present their work. The program includes performances, workshops and themed exhibitions, all related to urban culture and contemporary art.

Christmas Concerts
Lisbon’s annual Christmas concerts in several of the city’s churches are back. Among the locations is Memoria Church, for a concert at 4PM on Saturday the 11th, Graça Church on the following day at the same time, Estrela Basilica on the 17th at 9:30PM, and chamber music in São Domingos Church on Sunday the 19th at 4PM.

A New and Unusual Museum in Lisbon

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Museu Pavilhão de Segurança, Lisbon

The Pavilhão de Segurança (“Security Pavilion”) Museum is one of Lisbon’s least-known and most unusual attractions.
Found in a hospital’s 19th century panopticon (a circular prison where prisoners are observed at all times), it’s a recently renovated space to show the art created by mentally-ill patients.
The building is of architectural interest, as it is the only panopticon in the world with an open-air courtyard. It is surrounded by 26 cells and in addition to the 3500 sketches, paintings and sculptures (called “art of the insane,” or “raw art” or “outsider art” in the art world) there are displays of furnishings that made up this hospital-prison. Many of them are interesting examples of industrial design of the 1920s and 30s, and there is also some rather disturbing medical equipment.
The museum is free to visit, and it’s open on Mondays, when most others in the city are closed. The opening times on that day are 2PM-6PM, as it is on Saturdays. The third opening day is Wednesdays, from 11:30AM-1PM. On all other weekdays, visits are by appointment only, and you may also ask for a guided tour.
Address: Rua Dr. Almeida Amaral, 1
Phone: 210006098

Museu Miguel Bombarda, Lisbon