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Arzábal Arzábal

Madrid: art + lunch

Food for pictorial thought: Madrid’s top exhibitions this spring and where to eat near them

Madrid has some of the world’s finest art galleries that host exciting rotating exhibitions. But knowing you’re going to be on your feet for a good few hours visiting one of them can be daunting. We have paired the best of this season's art exhibitions in central Madrid with lunch spots a stone’s throw from each.

Andrzej & Arzábal

polish-art-2Andrzej Wróblewski at the Museo Reina Sofía’s Palacio de Velázquez

Until 28 February you can catch some Polish art by national hero Andrzej Wróblewski at the Museo Reina Sofía’s Palacio de Velázquez, which sits slap bang in the middle of the Retiro Park (pre-exhibition coffee by the lakeside optional). This unusual exhibition focuses on a selection of double-sided paintings. The Soviet artist produced a great amount of work in his short life (he lived to be just 30) and this particular cross-section of his canvasses, all quirkily painted on both sides, present the price of war through thought-provoking depictions of the human form in daily life. It is interesting to see how the later works among them clearly differ in their influence of Stalinist socialist realism. Open daily until March, 10am-6pm www.museoreinasofia.es


Next stop, edge westwards out of the park to Museo Reina Sofía’s main building (an approximate 20-minute walk) and head up to the terrace. Here you will find the latest culinary project of Arzábal, the first being a high-end gastro-bar in the western edge of the lovely Salamanca neighbourhood. A glass of champagne and the steak tartare might go down well, say, with perhaps the apple tatín to draw your outing to a close. www.arzabal.com

Related: Madrid's quirkiest 'lesser-known' galleries

The Prado & The Viridiana

prado-ingres-2Madame Moitessier, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

Heir to Raphael and Poussin, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres was a French Neoclassicist who produced canvasses which inspired the revitalisation of the 19th-century European art schools, particularly the Spanish, and made a mark on Picasso. An exhibition at The Prado until 27 March is the happy result of a special collaboration with the Musée du Louvre, and displays Ingres’ work in bite-size, chronological order. They say that Ingres had a contradictory, love-hate, relationship with portraiture, and the exhibition seeks to transmit this alongside the obvious importance of the painter in art history’s course. www.museodelprado.es


When your work is done at The Prado, a treat is in store for you at nearby restaurant, Viridiana. If Dalí had started a restaurant chain, let’s say it might bear some resemblance to this place, which exhibits equal portions of faint madness, humour, vibrant colours, and quality cuisine. Take the menu, where the food is divided by the following sub-sections: “We Recommend Patience”, “And Other Equally as Expensive Fish” and “Those Visceral Home-Grown Recipes that Leave us Fat and Merry”, (for example, the bourbon and barley ice cream). In all seriousness, this place is a classy food affair as much as anything else, so go for the “marinated Baltic herring, avocado, mango, yogurt cream, dill with a glass of frozen vodka” and enjoy your second artistic experience of the day. www.restauranteviridiana.com

Related: Going organic in Madrid

March & Marco

Fundacion Juan March Madrid 01Fundación March © Wikimedia Commons

At Fundación March, one of Spain’s most successful, charity-funded cultural centres, you need to see “The Unseen.” The exhibition, which runs from 26 February until 5 June, spans “informalist painting and the postwar photobook (1945-1965)”. Think sand, gesso, sack, rags, card, paper shreds, cloth and even material destined for the rubbish. To amass them, the artists ceased to be dependent on the paintbrush and embraced getting messy with their hands, spatulas and palette knives. Art history was changed forever. Photography accompanies the paintings to situate them in history and in time. www.march.es

la-maruca-3La Maruca

Three streets down you’ll find one of the best flag-fliers of Santander in Madrid: Maruca restaurant, which is all about a smart, artistic interior and a subtle twist to the usual tapas affair (but nothing too crazy). Expect, for instance, sear-fried octopus with purée de matanza, meat croquetas, bravas potatoes “la maruca”, and a triumvirate of excellent egg dishes. Note, too, that they have gluten-free bread and a reputation for their artichokes. Lunch here is in demand, so you’d be wise to book ahead. www.restaurantelamaruca.com

1 Museo Reina Sofia
3 Museo Prado
4 Viridiana
5 Fundación Juan March
6 La Maruca