When ARCO, a major international contemporary art fair, decided to stage the event outside its country of origin for the first time, it chose Portugal as its venue. Yet another indication that "choosing" is indeed an art!
In 2017, the Madrid contemporary art fair outside Spain will be staged in Lisbon. The event, at which 40 international galleries will be exhibiting, will be taking place at the Cordoaria Nacional from the 18th to the 21th of May.
This will be a unique opportunity for those who enjoy contemporary art, and will also be a good excuse to get to know Lisbon. Known as the city of light, Lisbon's special luminosity and welcoming ambience mean it is greatly appreciated by artists, photographers and film producers.
If you enjoy contemporary art, you will definitely like Lisbon. It is a centuries-old city with historical neighbourhoods that you simply must visit and where the recent works of architecture give you a new perspective of the space.
In Belém, the neighbourhood filled with memories of the voyages of the Portuguese Discoveries in the 16th century, close to the iconic monuments of the Torre de Belém (Belém Tower) and the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery), you must be sure to visit the Belém Cultural Centre, which houses the Berardo Museum. This collection of contemporary art features exhibits representing the most important artistic movements from the 20th century through to the present day. You can admire works by Duchamp, Piet Mondrian, Andy Warhol, Bruce Nauman and Cindy Sherman, to name but a few. This is also the neighbourhood where the Museu dos Coches (National Coach Museum) is located. This unique collection is now housed in a modern building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Paulo Mendes da Rocha.
In the city centre, between the Chiado, the Bairro Alto and São Bento, you will find the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea (National Contemporary Art Museum) and the Júlio Pomar Atelier-Museum, alongside many art galleries and antique shops. Nearby, in the Amoreiras neighbourhood, a now-renovated former silk factory building houses the surprising collection belonging to the foundation set up by Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva, a notable 20th-century Portuguese artist.
To the north of the city now, in the Avenidas Novas neighbourhood, you will find the Gulbenkian Foundation. This noteworthy 1950s building stands in a large garden where the principles of modern architecture are clearly in evidence. The main building features auditoriums and offers a programme dedicated to classical and contemporary music. It is also where you will find the museum housing the collection of Armenian millionaire Calouste Gulbenkian, who so adored Lisbon that he made it his home. At one end of the garden is the Centro de Arte Moderna (Modern Art Centre). Ten minutes' walk away, Culturgest is a space where the most recent trends in the plastic arts are given pride of place.
Anyone choosing to stay in nearby Cascais will have the opportunity to visit the Paula Rego collection. Paula Rego is another Portuguese artist who has made a significant contribution to the history of art. She currently lives in England. The uniquely-shaped building called "Casa das Histórias" ("House of Stories") was designed by another Pritzker-Prize-winning architect, Eduardo de Souto Moura.
But just as importantly, you should be sure to simply spend some time strolling around the streets of the city, admiring the tiled façades and the various works of urban art created by designers and graffiti artists; for Lisbon is a veritable open-air museum where a surprise awaits around every corner.