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Madrid City in English
Monday 18th of December 2017
1202 14th of June 2012 by laura 14th of June 2012
Fernando Botero donated Mujer con Espejo to Madrid
The naked truth

seeks works of art on Madrid’s streets that might make the heart flutter for the most outrageous reasons

We all know Madrid is a city that welcomes the weird, wonderful and at times downright risqué, as anyone who’s taken a stroll through Chueca at 2am can testify. But have you ever, while wandering the streets of the metropolis, caught sight of a mural or a statue and thought “What is that? And why are they naked?” InMadrid has been investigating a few of these mysterious bodies of art; not, we would add, for vicarious cheap thrills, but in the name of better understanding the culture within our city.

 

Reflect on this

Renowned Colombian artist Fernando Botero donated Mujer con Espejo to the city of Madrid after his 1994 solo exhibition. Situated on Calle Genova, near Plaza de Colón, Botero’s Rubenesque Gorda, made from one thousand kilos of bronze, lies recumbent on her plinth and, taking a break from admiring her voluptuous form in a hand mirror, caresses her hair. Barajas airport is home to a second of his works: Rapto de Europa, another corpulent woman unashamedly displaying her full figured naked form, this time perched on a bull.

 

Heavens above!

The job of painting the façade of the Casa de la Panaderia, on the north side of Plaza Mayor, was awarded to Madrileño artist Carlos Franco in 1992 after he won a contest sponsored by the city council. Self-taught, Franco is known for his mythical and magical works and book illustrations. His competition-winning ideas for the frescoes of the Plaza’s Bakery House feature a host of mythological figures, mostly depicted in their God-given form, telling a history of Madrid and the Plaza. An embodiment of Cupid, the Roman God of love, is up there, ready to shoot passers-by with his arrow of desire.

 

Sitting quietly

Mujer Sedente is a 1943 limestone sculpture by Santiago Costa, currently residing near the Paseo de Argentina in Parque del Retiro. Originally created as part of a grand monument and fountain by architects Víctor d’Ors and Manuel Ambros, which was commissioned by the city of Madrid to commemorate Madrileño architect Juan de Villaneuva, she was one of a group of three statues, named el Madrid de San Isidro, el Madrid Artesano, and el Madrid Capital, intended to represent the city. They took their place in 1952 at the Glorieta de San Vicente, near Príncipe Pío. In 1995, the fountain was moved to Parque del Oeste, while the statues went their separate ways. With Mujer Sedente residing in Retiro, another of the statues now calls Parque de la Dalieda de San Francisco home, while the whereabouts of the third remains a mystery, although it is possibly in government storage.

 

Don’t miss the bliss

You may be forgiven, as you reach the esquina of Calles Campoamor and Orellana, for wondering what on earth is going on with all the graffiti- style painting on the façade of this grand yet otherwise ordinary building. The almost one thousand square metres of artwork is a mural by artist Jack Babiloni, entitled Todo es Felicidá, or in English, All is Bliss. Commissioned by the landlord when the building was renovated in 2008, it was completed in 24 days using a palate of just four colours and features a host of figures, some painted in Picasso-style surrealism. Our particular favourite is the grinning topless woman with the third eye, subtle enough to not appear gratuitous. Jack Babiloni is an artist of worldwide acclaim having held exhibitions in Asia, America and Europe, as well having written several books, poems and graphic novels.

 

On the tiles

Titillating tiled murals adorn the frontispiece of traditional tapas bar Restaurante Bodegas Melibea, on Calle Espoz y Mina. In one, a woman au naturelle, her ample assets leaving you in no doubt of her gender, fixes you with a come hither stare while water cascades from a jug carried over her shoulder. In another, a lady of voluptuous physique wearing “kabkabs” (stilted shoes worn in Turkish baths during the time of Ottoman Empire) has an attendant help her into, or perhaps out of, white robes. Inside things get even steamier, with a tile mural featuring a pair of naked women locked in a lover’s clinch! Oo-er! A cold caña will cool you down—they have those too.

 

On the tiles again

At Plaza del Ángel, 14, is España Cañi, a bar with wonderful exterior tiles that show the drama and dangers of flamenco. The work is a reproduction of Cante Hondo, a painting by Julio Romero de Torres (1874-1930), the original of which rests in the museum that bears his name in his home town of Cordóba. He was close to death when completing the picture, but captures love, passion, jealousy and death in his unique Andalucian style; with, of course, flesh and its weaknesses.

 

Internacional ladies

Although number 19, Calle del Arenal, was originally constructed in 1862, the wonderful façade didn’t appear until 1907, when the building changed from being residential to become the Hotel Internacional. The women’s busts that run along the façade boast a particularly amusing and curious style. The majority are suitably clad in bodices, but occasional exceptions have surprisingly forgotten to cover up at all. The effect that the “now you see them, now you don’t” trick had on early 20th century guests has gone unrecorded.

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