Joan Miró – Man with a Pipe (1925)
Many of the Mirós in the Reina Sofía date from his later years in the 1970s, when the Catalan master embraced the cheerful abstract style in primary colours. ‘Hombre con pipa’, on the other hand, is one of his early works. It is a surrealistic, almost hallucinogenic portrait in subdued shades with a stripe of red, depicting what appears to be an extra-terrestrial with saucer-shaped penetrating eyes and a pipe that is open to all kinds of interpretation.
Salvador Dalí – The Great Masturbator (1929)
Dalí’s ‘Great Masturbator’
This suggestive painting is only rarely discussed when teaching about the works of Dalí in school. A mass of rocks on Cap de Creus in Catalonia inspired the artist to paint a portrait of a naked woman, whose head is leaning towards the swollen crotch of a man with bloody knees. As with all works by Dalí, anything is possible and his subjects are distorted, tilted or upside-down. Nothing is what it appears to be, so that the viewer quickly becomes mesmerised.
Crowds gather at Pablo Picasso’s Guernica (1937)
The undisputed highlight of the collection is the only work of art that always hangs in the same place, namely, in room 206 on the second floor. The giant Guernica by Picasso measures 3.5 by 7.8 metres and portrays the horrors of the bombing of Guernica in 1937, when Hitler destroyed the Basque city during the Spanish Civil War at the request of Franco. But don’t spend too much time looking at it because, even though it’s Picasso’s most famous work, it’s sure to give you nightmares.