A tour of Madrid’s art galleries

  • lafabrica1_1400082034.795.jpg
  • Art galleries
  • Barrio de Salamanca
  • From Las Salesas to Conde Duque
  • From Barrio de Las Letras to Lavapiés

Alongside some of the world’s top museums, Madrid is home to many other art venues. Arte_Madrid, the Madrid Association of Art Galleries, has about 50 members, to which we should add a few dozen that are non-members. In sum, about half the art spaces in the country can be found in Madrid – a maze of art encompassing most streets.

It all began in the heart of the elegant Barrio de Salamanca, where some of the private collections owned by aristocrats and bourgeois were first made available to the public in the aftermath of the war. With the arrival of democracy, art galleries extended to the west along Paseo de la Castellana, still within posh districts like Chamberí or Salesas. Eventually, the search for new horizons and the Reina Sofía Museum (MNCARS) acting as a magnet drew art galleries into Barrio de las Letras (Literary Quarter), and even into Calle del Doctor Fourquet, a tucked-away street in Lavapiés that today is brimming with art galleries.

Following in the footsteps of the pioneers – Biosca (1940), Juana Mordó (1964) or Kreisler (1965) –, a considerable number of men and women set up their own galleries for their love of art – an adventure that was half enterprise, half patronage.

Thanks to art galleries, which are usually closer to emerging trends and market demand, many artists have been able to show their work or even, in the case of a lucky few, make a living. Some of the key Spanish contemporary artists – Canogar, Chillida, Úrculo, Millares, Saura, Tàpies or Barceló, to name but a few – would have never earned recognition without the interest and efforts of art dealers and gallery owners.

CALENDAR OF OUTSTANDING ART EVENTS

  • ARCO: February. Spain’s greatest contemporary art event, usually held at IFEMA-Feria de Madrid.
  • JUSTMAD: February. A major meeting point for emerging artists in Madrid.
  • FLECHA: February. This art fair selling artworks in commercial spaces takes place simultaneously with ARCO. It gathers a high number of works of art to sell them in shopping facilities. It’s a free-of-charge initiative.
  • ART MADRID: February. A more accessible and realistic art fair.
  • ALMONEDA: March. Pieces about 50 years old. Furniture from the eighteenth century to the 1960s and 1970s. Art Deco, collector’s items, militaria collectables, everyday artefacts, and so on.
  • PHOTOESPAÑA: Spring/summer. The largest photography exhibition held in Spain.
  • ESTAMPA: September. Originally dedicated to engravings, it has widened its scope to encompass all kinds of contemporary arts.
  • APERTURA MADRID GALLERY WEEKEND: September. Opening of the art exhibition season in Madrid, with galleries playing their trump cards in a weekend packed with events.
  • FERIARTE: November. An annual art and antiques fair that has been held for 40 years now. It offers everything from archaeological items to jewellery or pieces of furniture.

In this district-by-district tour, you’ll find some of the most iconic art galleries in Madrid, alongside others focusing on more provocative emerging artists.

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    Art in Madrid Guide (PDF)
  • Art in Madrid Guide
  • Check out which exhibitions are showing in a city whose art scene knows few rivals.  

    Exhibitions in Madrid
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  • A walk you should take if you’re a lover of classic and modern art.

    Paseo del Arte