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Itinerary "The Other's Gaze". Spaces of Difference Thursday, June 15, 2017

From today until 10 September the Museo del Prado is presenting a new focus on its permanent collection through a specially devised thematic itinerary of works that encourages a reflection on the historical reality of same-sex relationships and non-normative sexual identities.

The richness and diversity of the Prado’s collections allow for this new approach, which makes use of art-historical theory to analyse the most profound meaning of this selection of 30 works. Among them are iconic images such as Orestes and Pylades by the School of Praxiteles and David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio, as well as little-known works such as El Cid by Rosa Bonheur and El Maricón de la Tía Gila by Goya. The itinerary is structured into six different thematic routes based around various core displays and has the overall title of The Other’s Gaze. Spaces of difference.

The project is organised in conjunction with the celebration of World Pride Madrid 2017 and is accompanied by a publication sponsored by the Region of Madrid.

Itinerary "The Other's Gaze". Spaces of Difference

From left to right: Álvaro Perdices, curator of the itinerary; Jaime de los Santos, director of the  Oficina de Cultura y Turismo de la Comunidad de Madrid; Miguel Falomir, director of the Museo del Prado and Carlos G. Navarro, curator of the itinerary. Foto © Museo Nacional del Prado

The Museo del Prado is inviting visitors to focus on its collection from a different viewpoint through a selection of 30 paintings, sculptures and drawings which are habitually on display in its galleries. Representing part of the complex western cultural heritage, they can now be viewed as a marvellous testimony to different, minority and, on occasions, silent affective formulas.

Each of these independent but interrelated thematic routes reflects an affective reality with a social status that has changed in relation to different periods and places and which has been reflected in art in a range of diverse and appealing ways. On the one had these routes emphasise the way the various iconographies of love have passed unnoticed or were even concealed in the past and on the other, the naturally inclusive fact of their existence.

 

These works refer to concepts such as love between free equals in the classical world and the persecution of relationships of that type in the new Christian era; the status of different and ambiguous individuals as a spectacle in their own right during the early modern age; and the sole possibility of the acceptance of other alternatives through a literary and mythological key in images which were only for the enjoyment of the social elites.

The first route, Immortal Friendships, looks at sentimental and political relationships between people of the same sex. From antiquity onwards these relationships came to acquire mythical status in art history and literature as a starting point for the creation of an alternative identity legitimised by history.

The second, Pursuing Desires, looks at the persecution of artists and the denigration of works of art over the centuries due to their personal identity or subject matter and iconography respectively, given that they made visible relationships and identities outside of the prevailing morality of the time. Some artists, such as Botticelli or Leonardo, were put on trial while other artists testified against them. Many works of art suffered a similar fate and were either encrypted or were ignored for what they showed.

The body and its image structure the argument of the third route, Deceptive Appearances. Inconformity with the corporeal norm is to be found in a number of works in the collection, including The Hermaphrodite and the two paintings of bearded women by Ribera and Sánchez Cotán. Also featured are examples of transvestism and the reversal of gender roles.

To love like the Gods, the final route, brings together a series of mythological works that represent relationships between equals in settings remote from the real world. Works of this type were intended for the private spaces of the social elites. These stories of gods showed behaviour forbidden to mortals which only rulers and princes could contemplate.

The project is completed with two exceptional works from the collection, El Cid by Rosa Bonheur and El Maricón de la Tía Gila by Goya. These are little-known creations which give visible form to two complementary realities through a female artist and a subject matter that clearly relate to the content of the itinerary as a whole.

In conjunction with The Other’s Gaze, this website is featuring a series of conversations between artists such as Guillermo Perez Villalta, Javier Codesal, Helena Cabello and Ana Carceller, Alexander Apostol and El Palomar; and historians, journalists and cultural agents such as Estrella de Diego, member of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Manuel Olveira of the MUSAC, Jaime de los Santos, head of cultural promotion, Region of Madrid, and Javier Moreno of El País. These conversations will focus on the principal issues and problems behind the representation of other types of love and sexuality through art and literature.

Publication

The itinerary is accompanied by a publication sponsored by the Region of Madrid in which the different routes are accompanied by commentaries on the selected works, together with introductory texts by Estrella de Diego, Carlos Reyero, José Manuel Matilla, Víctor M. Macías-González, Javier Portús, María Cruz de Carlos, Manuela Mena, Álvaro Perdices and Carlos G. Navarro, of whom the latter two are the curators of this project.

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