The territory of Medieval Europe was something of a politically unstable and disparate patchwork. Throughout this period, its internal and external borders fluctuated back and forth with each successive wave of invasions (the Magyars along the Danube, Viking and Saracen raids), the expansion of Islam and the rise and fall of the Carolingian Empire.
But Medieval Europe was also undergoing a process of unification, albeit more spiritual in nature than temporal. Thus. when an 8th-century chronicler from Cordoba related the Battle of Poitiers at which the Muslim advance was halted by Charles Martel, he gave central stage to the Saracens and those termed the “people of Europe”, in other words. Christians. In fact, during the early centuries of the Middle Ages, it was primarily the process of Christianisation which was to bind together this geographical area known, for that matter, as “Christendom”, the word “Europe” rarely featuring in medieval writings.
It is important to remember that Medieval Europe was a vibrant area in which people travelled widely. It also hosted considerable commercial, cultural and artistic exchange between the component kingdoms and regions as well as externally with the surrounding territories of the Muslim world and the Byzantine Empire.
Lisbon has been busy lately doing what it does best: embellishing its inimitable, gilded history with world-class venues for contemporary culture, art, and dining. Even as Baixa, the city’s cheerfully decrepit 18th-century downtown, applies for UNESCO World Heritage site status, a roster of starchitects among them Renzo Piano, Santiago Calatrava, and local talent Alvaro Siza-are vying to leave their marks on Lisbon’s parks and residential developments. While independent fashion designers and antiquarians still reign in Principe Real and Bairro Alto, interior designers have established themselves in adjacent Santos, followed by adventurous restaurateurs who are looking beyond Portugal’s borders for inspiration. And as the Continent’s capital cities seem to move ever closer to a state of homogeneity, Lisbon remains delightfully free of the signs of global bleed. (There’s exactly one Starbucks downtown, and it opened just months ago). The resulting balance of oldworld charm and edgy avant-gardecreates a dynamic that’s full of surprises and definitely worth exploring.
An electric energy buzzes through London in the fall. Starting with the lively fireworks on Bonfire Day until the sparkling display over the River Thames on New Year’s Eve, the action is nonstop, from blockbuster musicals to brand-new galleries, cozy jazz bars, and unique experiences that you can find only in London.
ART AND HISTORY LOVERS
London is a modern city where trends are set and the latest fashions are made; it’s a place where cutting-edge cool meets centuries old grace in the flash of a Tube ride. This diverse mix supplies endless events and new openings, such as the unveiling of the worldclass Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum last month, which is one of the only science-in-action experiences of its kind.
London’s dining scene has come a long way from fish and chips-today you’re as likely to put vinegar on your fries as you are to savor impeccably fresh sushi prepared by some of the world’s best chefs. Get your taste buds up to speed at the first-ever, city-wide London Restaurant Festival (Oct. 8-13). The six-day event will feature a diverse range of eateries, menus, and events.
Wall painting was an art form common to all of Romanesque Europe. In fact, Romanesque architecture lent itself particularly well to the display of vast painted cycles covering large, blank walls. However, the method used differed depending on the regions concerned. The benchmark technique remained that of the fresco which was inherited from the Roman Empire. It consisted in applying pigments to freshly laid – a fresco – chalk-based plaster; the chemical reactions occurring during the drying process enable the pigments to bind. Painting therefore had to be completed without delay. This technique survived in Italy and Byzantium. However, due to the less favourable climatic conditions, to the north and particularly in France, decorations were more commonly applied to dry coating, covering the work to varying degrees; the pigments were then applied using a binding agent (glue). The end result of this technique, termed distemper painting, proved less resilient.
If we talk about contemporary art in San Sebastian, we must evoke the figure of Eduardo Chillida. The sculptor not only projected the image of La Concha far beyond our frontiers, but he has also made his work one of the most recognised icons of our geography. As a sample, the Peine del Viento (Wind Comb), his most beloved creation, and the perfect starting point for following the artist’s steps through the city. We can feel them in the Pico del Loro -where we can visit the tribute to Rafael Balerdi-, in La Concha Promenade -“Homenje a Fleming”-, in Mount Urgull -with Pedro Arana’s bust in one of its hills-, and in the two main churches, the Cathedral of El Buen Pastor and the Basilica of Santa Maria, exhibiting two of his crosses. The Chillida-Leku Museum, five kilometres from the city centre, is the last work by Eduardo Chillida when he was alive: a green space inhabited by his works where the visitor can ‘get lost’.
Other big artists like Jorge Oteiza also “exhibit” their works in the streets of San Sebastian: we can find his ‘Empty Construction’ in Paseo Nuevo, defying the rough sea, and on the outside fal of the San Vicente Church, located in the Old Town, we can enjoy the sculpture of La Pieta. In addition, the city also offers a wide range of art galleries and exhibition halls such as the Koldo Mitxelena Cultural Centre, an interesting rotating exhibition by new art stars, or the Kutxa Kubo Hall, offering a continuous programming of temporal exhibitions with international projection. This artistic tour can be completed with “Tabakalera” the International Centre of Contemporary Culture, located in the old tobacco factory, where we can enjoy exhibitions periodically.
The Museum Collection
The Museu Picasso of Barcelona is the centre of information and background for the early years of learning of Pablo Picasso.
The history of the MuseuPicasso is a tribute to the artist’s express desire to leave his mark on Barcelona. That wish was materialised by the contribution of Jaume Sabartes, his close friend ever since their youth and personal secretary from 1935 onwards, as it was Sabartes who donated his own personalcollectionof Picasso paintings to the city of Barcelona. In this way, he became the driving force behind the creation of a Museum Picasso in Barcelona, the first anywhere in the world and the only one created while Picasso was still alive.
On March 9, 1963, under the name of ‘The Sabartes Collection; the museum officially opened its doors to the public in the Palau Aguilar. In 1970, Picasso himself donated nearly a thousand more works that had been kept in his family’s Barcelona residence. As a result, the City Council made available the Palace next door, the Castellet. These works, together with 58 magnificent paintings that go to make up the Las Meninas series -a hugely rich interpretative analysis of Velazquez’s famous work that Picasso had donated in the memory of Jaume Sabartes in 1968-, made the Museum Picasso of Barcelona the not-to-be-missed central point for anybody interested in knowing more about the artist’s work.
The Museum collections contain key works that mark the various early times when Picasso was most intensely involved with the city of Barcelona, in exhaustive detail up to his Blue Period as well as works from other notable dates, such as the year 1917, when he visited Barcelona, accompanying Olga Khokhlova and the Russian ballets of Diaghilev. The Museum Picasso also offers an excellent series of engravings by the artist, while our ceramic section boasts 41 pieces created between 1947 and 1965, donated in 1982 by Jacqueline Roque.