Faces of Madrid
You can stroll Madrid visiting its sculptures. The city has no shortage of sculptures honouring everyday characters who have left their mark on the city. Shall we get to know them?
El barrendero de Jacinto Benavente, 2001. Félix Hernando García (Colmenar Viejo, 1958): One of the more unique bronze statues in Plaza de Jacinto Benavente is Monumento El Barrendero Madrileño, which is a tribute to the vitally important work of street sweepers of Madrid (whom sadly get little recognition for their important work keeping the city clean and pretty).
El farolero madrileño, 1999. Félix Hernando García (Colmenar Viejo, 1958): Tribute to the former lamplighters of Madrid, a profession that is extinct today but was typical in the 19th century when the streets were lit with oil lamps which were switched on and off and maintained by workers in this trade.
Julia, 2003. Antonio Santín Benito (Madrid, 1978): This statue by the sculptor from Madrid, Antonio Santín Benito, pays a tribute to Julia, a young university student who, according to the legend, attended the Central University dressed up as a man, since only men were allowed to study there She can be found close to the Noviciado metro station in Malasaña.
The other Julia: The other Julia 12-meter-high sculpture that is located in the surroundings of the Plaza de Colón arrived in Madrid in 2018 for just one year and it seems that it has found a taste for the city. At the moment it seems that it continues to renew its stay and we will be able to continue seeing it, at least until December 2022, thanks to the agreement between the City Council and the María Cristina Masaveu Peterson Foundation. It is a work by Jaume Plensa and with it he seeks to provoke "an instant of personal and intimate reflection within the hectic dynamism generated by public space".
Isabella: The old BBVA headquarters, now restored and known as “Castellana 81”, has placed one of the characteristic head/sculptures by Jaume Plensa at its entrance. This white Isabela of discreet size, seduces with its serenity and adolescent poetry in contained expression; beautiful variant of 'Isabelas' of different colors, sizes and names, which are in various parts of the world.
El vecino curioso. Salvador Fernández-Oliva (Madrid, 1960): The curious neighbour is a Spanish classic: a retiree watching how the works are developed. The sculptor Salvador Fernández Oliva dedicated a tribute to that anonymous figure in Calle de la Almudena, after the restoration work on the church of the same name.
Lector en la plaza de la Paja, 1997. Félix Hernando García (Colmenar Viejo, 1958): The reader statue inaugurated in 1997 by Félix Hernando, pays tribute to the simple and enriching pleasure of reading. The man, who suppurates an enviable calm and naturalness, keeps his eyes fixed on a newspaper whose headline reads: "Together we rehabilitate Madrid." The sculpture is located at the foot of the old palace of the Vargas, in Plaza de la Paja, in the Latina neighbourhood.
Vendedor de la ONCE, 2013. Santiago de Santiago (Navaescurial, Ávila 1925): Perhaps you've been to Calle San Agustín and wondered the story behind this statue. It's dedicated to Fortunato is a symbolic figure representing all the coupon sellers of ONCE, National Organization of Spanish blind people. The foundation raises funds to provide services for the blind and people with serious visual impairment. The statue is the work of the sculptor Santiago de Santiago and shows the traditional ONCE vendor of the sixties.
Paseante, 1996. Roberto Manzano Hernández (Madrid,1972): Meet La Paseante. She is located in Malasaña, on Calle Palma, right at the entrance to the La Palma Art School, was made by Roberto Manzano for a school competition and has been there since 1999. Named as a "walker", she's more like a model or a dancer, don't you think?
Susana, 1996. Rafael González García: Inspired by her actual daughter as a model, Susana is an art student on the way to class in Plaza de San Ildefonso.
La abuela roquera, 1994. Carmen Jorba: One of the most symbolic sculptures is the "rocker grandma", which you can see on Avenida Peña Gorbea. A tribute to a real woman who lived in the neighbourhood and who was mythical in the 80s, when her grandson discovered heavy metal for her and she became the number one rock fan in Madrid, collaborating on radio programs and magazines.
Day and Night: They are the first monumental sculptural work by Antonio López which is on display in a public place. It portrays his granddaughter, Carmen, when she was six months old, through two heads of the same size, which represent two different moments, wakefulness and sleep. The author wishes to convey the idea of the passage of time accompanied by the passing of trains.
Yolanda, La Colegiala del barrio de Aluche is an exact replica of another located in Oviedo in front of the Campoamor theater called "Esperanza Caminando". Years later, a 19-year-old student from Aluche named Yolanda was kidnapped and murdered by fascists; and her family placed at the foot of this statue a commemorative plaque to Yolanda and all the victims of fascism (in front of the Aluche interchange).
The Frog: Next to the Gran Madrid Casino’s gate, stands a big and seemingly outlandish frog. This bronze sculpture, created by Eladio de Mora (alias dEmo), was installed in April 2014 as a gift from the Gran Madrid Casino. Spain’s last casino closed 90 years ago when gambling was forbidden during the Franco regime. To honor the return of casinos to Madrid, the Gran Madrid Casino gifted the lucky frog to the city. Why a frog? A frog was chosen for its symbolic fortune in many cultures around the world, particularly in the Chinese Feng Shui tradition. Carved into the great big frog are several numbers and representative figures including an Egyptian beetle, a four-leaf clover, a horseshoe with seven nails, a rabbit, a dolphin, an elephant, an owl, a witch with a broom, a heart, a key, the symbol of the dollar, the euro and the pound, a star, a moon, the hippy symbol , the yin-yang, an eye, an X, a chicken bone, the Chinese Do, the Hindu Ohm, the symbol of infinity, an open hand with an eye in the palm, a fist with the thumb raised, and an Italian red horn.
Woman & a bug: Monument of Eugenio D'Ors who was General Director of Fine Arts and member of the Royal Academies of the Language and Fine Arts of San Fernando. The artwork was designed by his son, architect Víctor D'Ors and created by the sculptor Cristino Mayo. It's believed that the figure of the woman symbolizes wisdom and that of the bug represents ignorance.
Las Meninas: Large sculptures of Las Meninas, paying a tribute to Velázquez’s famous Ladies-in-Waiting can once again be found hidden in plain site around the streets of Madrid. You can find more on La Meninas on my blog post.
Have you checked my photo gallery?
Curious to see all the faces of Madrid at a glance?