Photo blog: Toledo, Spain

Criticismism has just got back from warmer climes. The excuse to visit Toledo was a family wedding. So I headed to Spain for the party and stayed for the El Greco.

Doménikos Theotokópoulos, the painter known to art history as The Greek, plays a large role in the identity of this historic city. Here is a shot of the outside of his museum.

This institution might not exist were it not for aristocrat Don Benigno de la Vega-Inclán y Flaquer. It was his mission to recreate the artist’s living conditions. Eg; comfy fireside stools:

After several rooms, I was beginning to doubt whether the Museo del Greco actually had any paintings by its namesake. But in fact a long gallery was given over to a set of the painter’s apostles.

Here is Saint John the Evangelist holding the original poisoned chalice. According to Christian belief, the poison didn’t kill him. But surely the sight of that evil looking lizard would have put him off.

There are more of his paintings in Toledo’s cathedral. Catedral Primada Santa María de Toledo took more than 200 years to build and is a superlative example of medieval gothic. See interior…

But despite its origins in the middle ages, this place of worship is anything but po-faced. As you can see it is full of opulence and includes the cheeriest statue of the virgin you will ever come across.

Half a day was spent hunting for Toledo’s Museo del Arte Contemporaneo, but in a sign of the times it has closed down. Fortunately, the Museo de Santa Cruz, across town, was open.

Yet again, there was a fiesta of El Greco in full swing. Reproductions had not prepared me for this altarpiece, nor given me the chance to get right up close and follow the composition upwards.

Elsewhere, this may be a bit kitsch, but if I’m not mistaken Ricardo Arredondo has taken realist painting into 3D and HD with highlights made by building up flecks of crumbly paint.

The Museo de Santa Cruz also gave me the chance to discover Marian Kratochwil. The Ukrainian painter’s agricultural scene pictured here is ten times more psychedelic than it has any right to be.

Meanwhile, Alberto Sanchez flexes some bronze to make a very Spanish bull with a pronounced prance. While influenced by futurism, this calls to mind Walt Disney rather than Marinetti.

No visit to Toledo would be complete without checking out the available swords, cleavers and knives available freely over the counter. This CSI-themed shiv was a particular worry.

Finally, you’re never too young to crusade. Despite the conditions of harmony in which Christians, Muslims and Jews lived for many centuries here, you can now tool up your little ones against jihadis.

The wedding was excellent, by the way. There were no knife related mishaps, and I managed to tack on a trip to Altamira and Bilbao of which more later.

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