Antonio López García

(Tomelloso, Ciudad Real, 1936)

Vista de Madrid (Museo Arqueológico desde la calle Serrano)


oil on board

122.2 x 244.3 cm

Inv. no. P01134

This exceptional board painted by López in 1962 shows the Archaeological Museum in Madrid seen from the terrace of an apartment in calle Serrano. It is in fact one of his first panoramic urban views, centred solely on the city, which he started at the beginning of 1960 and would continue painting with obvious variations right up until the present moment.

There are still echoes of the surrealist period that started to lose momentum in 1960, when the artist began to create his well-known views of Madrid in which his faithful depiction of reality and of his surroundings becomes increasingly evident.

Until 1964, Antonio López’s works continued to flirt with what is known as
, in this case exemplified by the inclusion of a couple of kissing lovers sitting on the top of a tree, an impossible element added to the composition as if it were something normal, that could happen every day, providing the scene with a magical and unsettling touch.

Here, private and public codes are interchanged. What would normally happen inside a home, the privacy of a moment, takes place outdoors as if it were part of the exterior, as yet another element of the public space. Somehow the city and the street have been turned into the setting for that intimate scene, in silent witnesses of the impossible, thus relinquishing part of their prominence.

López’s compositions of views of Madrid painted during this period are very similar, with a usually large and intentionally landscaped format and seen from a high viewpoint. In general, the buildings are the sole witnesses of the passing of time in an otherwise empty city. The unusual lack of life in a generally noisy and suffocating city gives this view such a phantasmagorical appearance.

Compositionally, these views are clearly divided into two bands: an upper section reserved for the sky and a lower one covered by the architecture of the city. The sky has pink, yellowish or blue tones, depending on the time of day depicted, creating a significant play of shadows. The buildings enable us to recognise the exact spot of the city being portrayed.

The painting of these views is painstakingly long and laborious for it requires natural light, which obviously changes depending on the time of day and the season, forcing the artist to work in a very limited time frame. That is why, for López, “a picture is never finished. It always remains open. I give up on a painting when the difficulties it poses are insurmountable, when there is a deadline for delivery or a date for the opening of an exhibition...” That is the case of this view of Madrid which has not been subjected to any further alteration since entering the BBVA Collection.