Mallorca has worthy art venues that are perfect respites when the 70-mile-long Mediterranean island swells in summertime with 1.5 million, sun-and-fun visitors
Label a Mediterranean island a glitzy destination evidenced by colossal yachts, tilted beach umbrellas and bronzed bodies and the place gets hopping. But if a tad more culture is needed in the mix, Mallorca (Majorca) also has culture under its sun. The island oasis is part of the Balearic Islands archipelago, located in the Mediterranean Sea and 132 miles southeast of Barcelona. It’s an hour’s flight from Madrid.
Es Baluard Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Palma
The ingenious design for this museum is part of a Renaissance fortress wall built out with white concrete and glass to capture the Mallorcan sunlight. The interior design replicates a bygone street scene with partitions dividing the spaces. And a medieval watchtower anchors an outside walkway on the top level.
Pere Serra, a Balearic businessman and collector, donated most of the modern and contemporary art. Other notable works on display are Mediterranean and Mallorcan landscapes; Picasso ceramics; Toulouse-Lautrec, Chagall and Barceló drawings and a Miró gallery. Yearlong exhibitions highlight other famous artists.
Pilar and Joan Miró Fundacion
Joan Miró, born in Barcelona in 1893, had Mallorcan birthrights through his mother and his wife. At 63 and after years as an unrecognized artist living in unheated apartments and subsisting on radishes and chewing gum, J.L. Sert built him a studio in Palma. The 17th century building named Son Abrines became the Pilar and Joan Miró Fundacion and displays a portion of his work alongside other artists. However, Miró might be horrified to see the urban sprawl that now surrounds his creative retreat.
His personal studio, Son Boter, is beside the museum and remains untouched since his death at 90. With approximately 5,000 Miró artifacts (many are in his Barcelona museum), the contents change regularly to include huge canvases against the walls; numerous easels supporting his paintings and rocking chairs are present.
Somewhat reclusive, Miró accessed the studio from a doorway that led to Son Boter so he could scribble numerous first drawings on its whitewashed walls. They are visible today as are plaster sculpture molds and splattered paint on the tile floors.
Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober
This hidden gem sprawls across Finca Sa Bassa Blanca, which is a private estate reached at the end of a bumpy road in the province of Alcudia. The hour-long drive northeast of Palma passes carob, fig and olive trees, some 1,000 years old with gnarled barks that resemble Halloween characters.
The verdant and floral-laden oasis houses a breathtaking art collection devoted to portraits of children dating from the 16th to 18th centuries. Named “Nins” (children in Catalan), the 150 works are housed in an underground exhibition space that evokes a feeling of mystery when descending its staircase.
Expertly lighted by Alain Chevalier, who also lit Louvre artworks, the canvases appear to be illuminated from behind. Some figures have beguiling smiles. Others have chalky complexions with adult-like faces on a child’s body. The subjects pose haughtily in elaborate dress, and many children were betrothed in the womb. Others had their images painted in order to be dispatched to European royalties to promote a marriage, some being blood related.
Several hotels in Mallorca sell artwork right off their walls. The Mardavall Hotel & Spa, located outside Palma in Costa d’en Blanes, hangs two original paintings in each room and 40 works in the corridors.
The setting alone of the elegant La Residencia hotel, located in the mountaintop village of Deià, is a landscape portrait. Royalty and top entertainers stay here regularly. The hotel’s small but impressive Tafona Gallery is located in a room once used to press olive oil for the former manor house.Continue reading »