In this third instalment in a new series of interactive walking maps, Daniel Neilson guides us through the art scene of Buenos Aires. View The Real Argentina’s whole Interactive Art Walk of Buenos Aires in a single, larger map. (Also see our previous Interactive Foodie and History Walks of Buenos Aires.)
Look left, look right, look down. Even the streets of Buenos Aires are covered in art (if you consider street art, real ‘art’ – which we do, generally). It’s partly due to the fact graffiti is way down the list of priorities to clean (rubbish would be a good place to start), and partly because there’s a more laissez-faire attitude to street art (than in London for example), and a vast appetite for it in the city. Some BA street artists are now world-renowned. Given the transient nature of the art, it’s difficult to know where to point people, but graffitimundo offer walking tours and also have information about the latest works and murals.
Naturally, the boundaries between street art and that in a gallery is blurred (this isn’t the place to get into a philosophical question about what ‘art’ is), but what we’ll do here is take a tour around Buenos Aires looking at the most interesting and innovative places to see art – whether in a gallery, museum, bar, or in the street. There are more than 50 independent galleries alone in the city – but like much of the hipster cultural life in the city during the last two decades, it’s Palermo where many of the cutting-edge galleries are based and, more traditionally, Recoleta where you’ll find fine art galleries and design shops. Bear in mind that many close between January to March.
In keeping with our street art angle, one place you are guaranteed to see the best graffiti art is in Hollywood in Cambodia – a remarkable place featuring a gallery, bar, and shop selling prints and T-shirts and where key crews, including Bs As Stencil and Run Don’t Walk, often hold ‘expression sessions’.
And then head upstairs… Crash! Bag! Wallop! It’s the Post Street Bar! Time for a beer and some picadas. There’s no missing this joint – the walls are covered in some of the finest stencil and graffiti art work. It’s loud, its brash and witty.
Street Art in Buenos Aires; photo by Ricky Montalvo.
One of the largest modern art spaces in Buenos Aires is Arte x Arte which offers a great clean space for artists who often work in photography, video and new media – unmissable really.
Pabellón 4 is another superb gallery that often focuses on photography, and other well-curated events – there’s nearly always something fresh and interesting here.
Like Pabellón 4, Elsi del Rio is a refreshing break from the pretense and pomp of many Recoleta private galleries. It is run by Fernando Entin and Melisa Boratyn – neither of whom believe art should be dour and boring. This shows through the vibrant work on display – you’ll see witty sculptures and modern pop art.
Now time to sober up a little, tuck your shirt in and head to Recoleta and the stalwarts of the Buenos Aires art scene: MALBA and the Museo de Bellas Artes. But first, step into one of the hippest galleries in the city right now: Miau Miau. There’s nothing over the top about this, just some of the country’s best new art. These guys have the touch to find Argentina’s finest artists.
Now we move away from the small independent galleries to the big boys. The country’s best known contemporary space is MALBA, the Museo de Arta Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires. It is the city’s own Tate Modern or MoMA. It’s a spectacular space, and the only one that really attracts international touring exhibitions. Currently showing, for example, is Yayoi Kusama, recently seen at London’s Tate Modern. You’ll also see works from international contemporary artists and the greats of Latin America such as Frieda Kahlo. There’s a good restaurant and excellent bookshop.
MALBA; photo by Luis Argerich.
Now on to the grand dame of Argentinian galleries, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. If all the contemporary art has got a little too, well, contemporary, relax here in front of European giants Picasso, Rembrandt, Courbet, Degas and Van Gogh.
Personally, by now I’d stop for an ice cream in Recoleta and window shop the posh galleries while walking along to excellent Isabel Anchorena. Her gallery is one of the more influential galleries representing around 30 contemporary artists, mainly in painting and sculpture.
Finally, we’ll head to the Espacio Fundación Telefónica – yes, the telephone guys. They have created a space explicitly to examine art’s relationship with technology and it has shown some of the most consistently interesting exhibitions in the last decade or so, featuring installations, soundscapes and other technologically advanced pieces. There’s also usually interactive displays perfect for kids (and adults who may be a bit tired of art galleries).
From stencil art to sound art, via El Greco – quite some tour.
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