Malaga and New York are very, very different cities. On the face on it, nothing more than a daily flight from mid-May to October connects them so finding Malaga in New York looks difficult.
But scratch the surface and there are definitely traces of Malaga in the Big Apple. And more of them than you’d think. On a recent holiday we searched for Malaga in New York. Here’s what we found.
First of all, there’s the Delta flight. Other than Madrid and Barcelona, Malaga Airport is the only place in Spain with a direct flight to New York. That brings the two cities to within less than 8 hours distance (roughly 6,000km).
Then there’s the people. Although Malaga can’t compete with the racial mix in New York (which city can?) we found the locals just as friendly. Ready and willing to help out with directions and tips. And keen to start a conversation and find out where we were found and what we were doing.
(But then a big difference – while I’m sure everyone in Malaga has heard of New York, hardly anyone we spoke to in the Big Apple had heard of Malaga. More people may do after they read this article about Malaga in the New York Times, published while we were there.)
Finding Malaga in New York via the world’s greatest artist
“He was simply the best there ever was,” said an American to his partner as he gazed at Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in front of us. This painting by Picasso, probably one of his best known, takes pride of place in one of the galleries at the MOMA in New York where almost all the other paintings are by Picasso too. When we visited the museum it was packed and the Picasso room was easily one of the busiest.
Picasso also takes pride of place at the Metropolitan Museum and it was here that we found a direct reference to his origins underneath one of his very early harlequins.
Finding Malaga in New York through other artists
In 2016, the Picasso Museum in Malaga showed Jackson Pollock’s Mural, a giant painting that was commissioned by Peggy Guggenheim for her apartment lobby in New York. Pollock’s mural is accompanied by other examples of abstract expressionism by artists such as Andy Warhol and Robert Motherwell. The MOMA does a very similar take on this genre of art and it was interesting to see several works by Pollock and his contemporaries, all of which are very similar to those on show in Malaga.
Finding Malaga in New York architecture
Two hugely different skylines and the tallest building in Malaga would be dwarfed next to the shortest skyscraper in New York. But we noticed some similarities, especially in the Moorish influence.
All the New York synagogues we saw had façades covered in Moorish arches as did some of the city’s older tower blocks. And the right-hand façade of the 1920s skyscraper in the picture above looks very like the house in Calle Sánchez Pastor in Malaga whose owner wanted to copy the Alhambra in his façade.
Finding Soho Malaga in Soho New York
Both Soho in New York and Soho in Malaga are historic districts. Both had decidedly non-industrial starts – the New York neighbourhood of Soho was originally farmland while the Malaga Soho was under water. Both developed during the 19th century and both deteriorated in the 20th.
Soho in New York became known as Hell’s Hundred Acres and Soho in Malaga was reputedly one of the most dangerous districts in the city, home to petty smugglers, thieves and prostitutes. New York’s Soho was reborn as a centre for art and artists in the 1960s and 70s while Malaga’s Soho had to wait until 2000 for its own branding.
Today there’s a similar air to the two districts. Malaga’s Soho might not have the wrought-iron architecture you find in New York’s but both are low-rise districts with a colonial air to the façades. Art features strongly in both – inside at the studios and art galleries in Soho New York and outside in the street art and murals in Malaga.
Finding Malaga in New York art (on and off the street)
We didn’t see a lot of street art in Manhattan, but we did see plenty of art inside skyscraper lobbies. And in one of them we came across the picture below.
It’s by Kenny Scharf and adorns the IBM Building lobby on Madison Avenue. We were reminded of the mural on the river near the CAC museum in Malaga whose artist was probably influenced by Scharf’s work.
Our next challenge? Finding New York in Malaga!