The Pompidou Centre in Malaga opened its doors in April 2015. It quickly gained a reputation for cutting-edge art in its permanent collection and thought-provoking temporary exhibitions. This together with its iconic multi-coloured glass cube has made it one of the best art museums in Malaga and southern Spain.
In May 2020, the Pompidou Centre renewed its permanent collection again. ‘From Miró to Barceló: A Century of Spanish Art’ will be on display until November 2021 giving visitors to Malaga the chance to see work from some of the finest 20th century Spanish artists. In this guide to the Pompidou Centre in Malaga we offer an insight on what to see at the museum plus essential practical information.
What’s on display at the Pompidou Centre in Malaga
A Century of Spanish Art collection at the Pompidou Centre in Malaga is divided into six sections (listed below). But before you enter, feast your eyes on a stunning collection of black and white photos of the artists, mostly by Man Ray with others by Jesse A. Fernández.
Just before you walk into the first section, Traveling Olga, a video by modern artist La Ribot, gives you a good idea of the weird and wonderful creativity you’re about to experience. Just after the First World War, Spanish artists in Paris were experimenting with cubism and other new forms of art. Works by Picasso, Juan Gris, Maria Blanchard and Pablo Gargallo take centre stage in this part of the exhibition. Still life with guitars dominate.
Spanish artists embraced Surrealism, conceived by Max Ernst whose painting Don’t See Reality as I am opens this section. Miró makes his first appearance as does Man Ray as an artist rather than a photographer. Giacometti’s sculpture, Disagreeable Object to be Thrown Away, sets the tone followed by Gala’s Shoe by Dalí, perhaps the Surrealist artist extraordinaire on canvas. His Six Images of Lenin on the Piano is, of course, truly surreal. On screen, Luis Buñuel took Surrealism to another level as you can see in his famous Un chien andalou whose eyeball scene is world famous.
“The goal of art is to defend life.” Martial Raysse 2015
This section is dedicated mostly to Picasso and Julio González whose paintings and sculptures explore post-Cubism. Don Quijote features as does the cruelty of the Spanish Civil War and you can see the links with Picasso’s Guernica in the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid. André Masson’s graphic The Spurt of Blood adds the finishing touch to a very Spanish room.
The collection jumps forward to the 1950s and some of Spain’s most famous mid-20th century artists. This section gives centre stage to Saura, Tàpies and Chillida, known for their abstract paintings that looks like graffiti in some of the works. Saura’s Armchair Woman is extraordinary as is Tàpies’ Large Horizontal White.
The Paris School
This section with work from Spanish artists who joined the École de Paris in the 1950s was our favourite. Taking pride of place is Eduardo Arroyo’s Escaped Prisoner along with the extraordinary mahogany Mermaid by Condoy. Also here is Mobile Striptease by Miguel Berrocal (from Malaga) and August Puig’s Nocturne that will remind you of Miró.
The collection gets contemporary in this section and includes some wonderful installations. The first is Bedroom, a sort of glass igloo by Jaume Plensa – there’s something strange about watching Le chien andalou play as you look past the glass.
Two giant canvases by Miró dominate the walls in the biggest room (the one you can look down onto from the entrance and shop). But your eyes will probably be drawn to 4 Piggybacks with Knife by Juan Muñoz – the expressions on the men’s faces are not for the faint hearted. And then to Cristina Iglesias’ Suspended Corridor, a massive work in a kind of macramé that moves gently in the air conditioning.
Miquel Barceló finishes the exhibition with a video of him creating one of his sculptures in golden mud. Just as weird and wonderful as Traveling Olga at the start.
Highlights at the Pompidou Centre
Inside the multi-coloured cube – Daniel Buren’s cube can be seen from the inside from the main exhibition. Watch the clouds scud across the panes and the sails flow in the wind.
Children’s activities – the museum runs good exhibitions for children. Check the website to find out what’s on.
Central stairway – this big exhibition space currently showcases a one-off piece by Charo Carrera, If I, if you.
Museum shop – this is one of the best museum shops in Malaga with lots of great ideas for fun or unusual gifts plus an excellent selection of art books.
Pompidou Centre in Malaga – practicalities
The Pompidou Centre opens Wednesday to Monday (closed Tuesday) from 9.30am to 8pm.
Modern Utopias €7
Temporary Exhibition €4
Free admission on Sundays after 5pm
The Pompidou Centre is fully accessible. Read more about accessible Malaga.
Time to allow for visit
Allow at least an hour to see A Century of Spanish Art, longer if you watch all the videos.
Café and restaurant
The Pompidou Centre in Malaga doesn’t have a café or restaurant service. However, there are several excellent venues on Muelle Uno just outside. Read our guide to La Malagueta area.
This is one of the great museums in Malaga. Discover the others and decide which to visit while you’re on holiday in the city.