Madrid’s Museo del Prado Celebrates Gay Pride With an Exhibition Devoted to Same-Sex Relationships

From Greek sculptures to Goya, the Prado queers its gaze on art history.

Installation view of “The Other’s Gaze. Spaces of difference” at Madrid’s Museo del Prado. Courtesy Museo del Prado.
Installation view of “The Other’s Gaze. Spaces of difference” at Madrid’s Museo del Prado. Courtesy Museo del Prado.

Gay Pride is always a big event in Madrid, with thousands of people joining the street parade in the city’s center to celebrate the LGBTQ community and advocate for equal rights. But this year will be the biggest yet, as the Spanish capital will host WorldPride, becoming the international hub for the 2017 celebrations.

The festival—which takes place from June 23 to July 2, and coincides with the 40th anniversary of the first Gay Pride protest in Spain—encompasses a broad program of cultural activities.

Among them is a particularly beguiling exhibition at the Museo del Prado titled “The Other’s Gaze. Spaces of Difference”—a rehang of some 30 paintings, sculptures, and drawings from the museum’s permanent collection that focuses on same-sex relationships.

From left to right: Álvaro Perdices, the show’s co-curator; 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; Carlos G. Navarro, the show’s co-curator. Photo ©Museo Nacional del Prado.

From left to right: Álvaro Perdices, the show’s co-curator; 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; Carlos G. Navarro, the show’s co-curator. Photo ©Museo Nacional del Prado.

The show, co-curated by the Prado’s Álvaro Perdices and Carlos G. Navarro, explores how understanding and tolerance towards these stories of love and friendship have changed throughout the centuries, explored through the lens of artworks ranging from the Greek sculpture of Orestes and Pylades by the School of Praxiteles, to Caravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath and El Maricón de la Tía Gila by Goya.

“At the museum, the issues of of same-sex relationships, the artists’ identity politics, and the persecution that they suffered in some cases hadn’t been properly explored or teased out across the collection, except in some specific examples, like Matteo Bonuccelli’s Sleeping Hermaphrodite or José de Ribera’s Maddalena Ventura,” the exhibition’s curators told artnet News.

This is the latest in a series of high-profile institutional exhibition and events around the world exploring LGTBQ issues, including, most notably, the recent show at London’s Tate Britain “Queer British Art (1861-1967).” But in terms of classical art, it seems that the Prado might be truly breaking ground since, according to the curators, other key art historical museums like Paris’s Louvre, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, St Petersburg’s Hermitage, or London’s National Gallery have yet to implement such readings of their collections.

“The response has been incredibly positive,” Perdices and Navarro added. “The art world at large has praised this initiative and, at the museum, conservators and other staff have been extremely collaborative and enthusiastic. In fact, the Prado has asked that this reading of the collection become available on a permanent basis, through audio guides and on the website. And the catalog is almost sold out already!”

See images of some of the works in the exhibition below:

Francisco de Goya, El Maricón de la Tía Gila, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Courtesy Museo del Prado.

Francisco de Goya, El Maricón de la Tía Gila, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Courtesy Museo del Prado.

Antinous, Roman workshop. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Courtesy Museo del Prado.

Antinous, Roman workshop. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Courtesy Museo del Prado.

José de Ribera, Maddalena Ventura. In deposit at the Museo Nacional del Prado. Courtesy Museo del Prado.

José de Ribera, Maddalena Ventura. In deposit at the Museo Nacional del Prado. Courtesy Museo del Prado.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Abduction of Ganymede. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Courtesy Museo del Prado.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Abduction of Ganymede. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Courtesy Museo del Prado.

Matteo Bonuccelli, Sleeping Hermaphrodite. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Courtesy Museo del Prado.

Matteo Bonuccelli, Sleeping Hermaphrodite. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Courtesy Museo del Prado.

The Other’s Gaze. Spaces of Difference” is on view at the Museo del Prado, Madrid, from June 15 – September 10, 2017.


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