Buenos Aires is full of art.
Just walk down the street, and you’ll find beautiful, ugly, bizarre, funny or though-provoking works of art on any spare wall space available. It also has more than its fair share of art galleries, where the art is organised, categorised, labeled and perhaps behind glass. We like both approaches to art, and love how Buenos Aires appears to maintain an equilibrium between what in some places seems to be two rival ways of presenting visual art.
During our six weeks in the Argentine capital, we visited many art galleries. Sometimes our opinions of them agreed, sometimes they diverged. Below, we review each of the galleries we visited (ordered by neighbourhood) and give our two perspectives on them.
(Please note, we are not art buffs. Basically, we know what we like, and that’s it.)
Set just behind Palermo’s lovely rose gardens, this art gallery is a modern, u-shaped structure, forming a courtyard where you can sit and have a drink from the attached cafe overlooking the train tracks.
Sam says…the space felt cozy without being too homely and well curated without being pretentious. The art is very modern (in that it was all created this century), but most of it felt very accessible, like paintings of scenes from every day life, rather than the kind of modern art that is so impenetrable it makes me feel stupid that I don’t get it. Walking around was a pleasant and relaxed experience, and the pieces were not placed close enough that you could easily take in two or three at once, but it didn’t feel crowded.
Zab says…worth a visit for its pleasant atmosphere and young vibe. I liked walking around, imagining having several of the pieces, especially the sculptures made from different natural materials, in our home (when we have one). The fact that most of the art seemed to be by up-and-coming Argentinian artists added an edge of excitement.
- Address: Avenida Infanta Isabel 555
- Cost: AR$10, but free on Wednesdays
We had had the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano Buenos Aires talked up to us a lot before visiting, so we were interested in seeing what all the fuss was about.
Sam says…the building was very cool; lots of glass, steel and hard-edged concrete. The permanent exhibition of works by Latin American artists was well laid out and interesting enough, though nothing really caught my attention. I found the temporary exhibitions downstairs (weird video installations of, not very much, it seemed) to be pretentious and a bit pointless. This probably means I don’t understand what the artists were trying to convey, but I don’t really care. I thought it was crap.
Zab says…I liked the ingenious use of every day objects in the temporary exhibition and the many vibrant paintings (including a self-portrait by Frida Kahlo). I also enjoyed how some of the art was incorporated into the design and architecture of the building.
- Address: Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 3415
- Cost: AR$32 regular entry, but AR$16 on Wednesdays
Housed in a neoclassical aristocratic mansion that was left to the Argentine government, this is more a museum than an art gallery, but is home to a wide range of paintings, sculptures and furniture.
Sam says…the interior was an odd mix of styles, from medieval European to art deco to neoclassical. Most of the works on display were uninteresting to me, as they seemed out of context and had very little or no explanation of what they were and where they were from. Walking around the building, strolling from room to room and passing through various time periods in its decoration was a pleasant way to spend an hour. I almost felt as though I were back in Europe, which was strange but also comforting.
Zab says…I found the architecture and interior design of the building more interesting than the art on display itself, which was very particular to the tastes of the family that used to live in the mansion. For the low admission price, I would have been just as happy to go and have a look around if the building had been empty, as in some ways, it would have offered a better view of the place.
- Address: Avenida del Libertador 1902
- Cost: AR$10
This museum of fine art, displaying mostly 19th century paintings as well as some sculpture, sits conveniently between the famous Recoleta cemetery (resting place of Eva Peron) and the Floralis Generalis.
Sam says…lots of dark, boring 19th century religious iconography, some nice landscapes and sculptures (a lot of them French) and a smattering of 19th century Argentine art. I found the atmosphere a little too formal for my liking, and the darkness (which I understand is necessary to preserve such old paintings) was somewhat oppressive and made me feel sleepy.
Zab says…I wasn’t particularly interested in the religious art either, but very much enjoyed the sculpture (particularly the few Rodin pieces). But otherwise, it felt like a very generic museum, nice but nothing outstanding and that you couldn’t see in Paris, New York or any other large international city.
- Address: Avenida del Libertador 1473
- Cost: Free!
Stay tuned for part two, with more art and opinions!