New Art Center in Madrid Opens

MADRID, Spain (AP) — Madrid's thriving world of art got a new addition with the inauguration of the CaixaForum cultural center, a seven-story brick and cast iron complex located in the heart of the city's art triangle.

The complex, just minutes from the renowned Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen museums that make up the triangle in the Spanish capital, will hold art exhibitions, cinema screenings, concerts, debates and conferences.

Described by organizers as "seductive, daring, attractive and light," the CaixaForum building was designed by Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, the 2001 Pritzker Architecture Prize winners and designers of London's Tate Modern.

The center is a restoration and expansion of a red-brick electricity station dating from 1900.

Mixing the old with the new, the original building's double-peaked modernist warehouse is now topped with an austere fortress style superstructure of corroded cast iron.

Set atop three discreet support columns, the building's design allows people to pass underneath, giving the feeling of being suspended in air.

Another attention-grabbing detail is a 5,000-square-foot vertical garden that lines one side of the center's front square. Designed by botanist Patrick Blanc, it features 15,000 plants.

The complex, inaugurated Feb. 13 by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, opens with a modest show of about 30 pieces from the foundation's permanent collection, including works from artists such as American artist Cindy Sherman and Britain's Cornelia Parker.

Its first major show was expected to open Feb. 21 with works by Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj. On March 19, it will exhibit 45 religious paintings from Florence's Uffizi gallery including works by artists such as Botticelli and Luca Giordano, many of which have never left Italy.

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