The Pain in Spain, Vol. 2: Renaissance art vs. modern art |

The Pain in Spain, Vol. 2: Renaissance art vs. modern art

This is modern art, it is not just granite blocks stacked in neat rows and diagonals. It's called "Child's Lament," by Carl Andre.
Randy Wyrick| |

Editor’s note: This is the second of a four-part series chronicling your beloved Uncle Randy’s adventures in Iberia, which is Spain for those of you not lucky enough to have been taught geography by Miss Pratt.

Why do people whisper in art museums? It’s not like you’re going to disturb the marble sculptures.

I spent a couple of weeks in Spain, which is a wonderful country where Americans seem to have a positive influence. Take the kid in the coffee shop, for instance.

She looked at her obviously Spanish patrons and said “Hola!”

She looked at me and said, “Hello! English?”

“Yes, please!” I said.

The Spanish want to practice their English, which is much better than your Spanish. As I said last week, the only Spanish phrase at which I’m proficient is, “Por favor, no me pegue, Senor Policia.” It means, more or less, “Please don’t hit me Mr. Policeman.”

So far, no one has taught the Spanish to look in the mirror, pound their chests and exclaim, “You good lookin’ son of a gun! Don’t you ever die!” We’ll work on that during my next trip to Spain.

Ya gotta have art

Along with BOCs (Big Ol’ Churches), when you’re in Europe you’re required to spend some time in museums. Europe has lots of wonderful old stuff, not including The Pain in Spain with the Long and Silver Mane (me).

And that leads us to …

Renaissance Art vs. Modern Art

Renaissance art exists to be cherished and appreciated, reflecting its time of re-enlightenment as humankind emerged from its intellectual ooze, also known as The Middle Ages. The middle of what, we’re not told, but apparently it was middle enough that humankind bought sports vehicles and installed Medieval hair plugs.

One painting in the Prado Museum in Madrid is “Man Seeking Woman.” It’s double portraits of a man and a woman who really, really, really want to have a lot in common. It’s the Renaissance version of

Modern art exists mostly so we can make fun of it. Also so women will think you’re sensitive and intellectual.

But modern art is mostly comedic. We know this because the Spaniards are smart and can be hilariously subversive.

For example, near the front door of the Prado Museum in Madrid is “Thalia, the Muse of Comedy.” All through the museum hang works by great Renaissance masters. Amid all those Renaissance masterworks are 10 Picassos that represent his various periods of failing and improving eyesight.

It looks like his cubist period is when he got bifocals for the first time and could actually see what he was painting.

Carl Andre’s work was on exhibit in the National Museum when I wandered by on my way to my natural habitat — either a bar or a BOC Both can be spiritual experiences.

Andre’s modern art is very popular with cultured people who’ve never stacked wood or laid bricks.

Apparently, Andre’s art consists of common objects stacked in conventional ways that somehow, through the magic of art, become something more. More of what, I cannot say, but more.

Two sculptures consist entirely of giant blocks of cedar, which smell pretty good but are baffling as works of art. One sculpture, “Cedar Blocks Stacked,” was cedar blocks stacked in huge cubes of 25 blocks. The other was “Cedar Blocks Scattered,” which was — you guessed it — cedar blocks stacked, but in pairs and placed artistically around a stark white room.

I dragged my 15-year-old son against his will to a Carl Andre exhibit.

I pointed to another piece and asked him, “What do you supposed they call that?”

“A complete waste of time,” he answered with unnerving accuracy.

This one was my favorite, mostly because it made my son lament about math class.

It was called “Children’s Lament.”

It was perfect rows and diagonals of rectangular granite blocks stacked upright in neat rows, not moving, as though they were children in class, subjugated to long, tedious lectures about modern art.

And finally this

Speaking of art, all over Europe are lush European gardens, usually next to palaces. They were popular, said one of our tour guides, as a spot for the prince to court one of his cousins — which pretty much explains European royalty.

Next week: Gibraltar and the American Drinking Song Deficit.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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