I'd been wanting to see The Sacred Made Real: Spainish Painting and Sculpure 1600-1700 at the National Gallery since I saw an advert for it a few weeks back, so after my lecture/seminar yesterday afternoon I hopped onto the 453 and headed to Trafalgar Square.
The National Gallery is, and this isn't just another example of me using the word hyperbolically or stylisticaly, awesome. Going there on a weekday afternoon is an absolute treat. Until you end up in a room with thirty very loud Italian women. But I digress, the National is home to some of the finest art in the world. And it's free.
The Sacred Made Real, however, isn't free but I didn't begrudge the £4 admission fee because, well, it's an incredible exhibition. I've been a fan of Digeo Velazquez for a while now so getting to see several of his finest paintings alongside work by Zurbaran was fantastic. The exhibition focuses on Christianity and more specifcally the crucifixtion of Jesus Christ. Such powerful iconography can produce magnificent art and as an atheist I treated the exhibition as a series of reworkings on the theme of suffering. In this respect it was the sculpture that wowed me the most. The intricate, fantastically carved and painted wooden recreations of Christ's death were stark, realistic, almost visceral. The coupling of Juan Martinez Montanes's 'Christ on the Cross' with Zurbaran's painting of the same name is worth the price of the ticket.
After I'd been to the National I took a stroll down the Southbank and headed for the Tate Modern. Considered going to the Pop Life exhibition but £11 to see some Warhol prints seemed a tad OTT. Still, the exhibition in the Turbine Hall is the best they've had for a long time: it's a massive, sloped, pitch black box you walk inside. Except you don't walk, you do a very slow, cautious, half-step into the unknown. Check it out.