Despite the veneer of endless partying and a luxurious social scene, Marbella and the surrounding areas do offer a variety of contemporary art galleries and museums to explore. We’ve put together a selection of our favourites, including exhibitions currently showing. Get a dose of culture before the Christmas shopping duties become too pressing!
Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo
The museum of contemporary Spanish engraving is situated in the midst of Marbella’s casco antiguo (old town). Perhaps more so than the collection of modern sketches and gravures found inside, the building itself is remarkable. Thanks to the acoustics and the architecture, you will be able to hear the gossip of local señoras, someone practicing the flute, feel the smell of the neighbour’s home-cooked meal and meditate on the climbing up the white walls. And if you are looking for an original and relaxing pastime, the museum offers engraving courses for adults.
Municipal Art Gallery
Also located in the heart of the old town, the Municipal Art Gallery showcases paintings, sculptures and ceramics made by some of Málaga province’s best artists. For each new exhibition the gallery hosts a small launch event, where one can chat to the artists and other personalities of the local cultural scene. The gallery has virtually no online presence so it’s best just to drop in – Plaza José Palomo in the Old Town. Admission is free.
Reiners Contemporary Art
Reiners Contemporary Art presents itself as a new space for contemporary art in all its variations. With strong links to the German and Brazilian art market, the gallery exhibits both established and emerging international artists based on current poetic thinking. On display until mid-December is an exhibition of works by German artist Marco Zumbé, who is mostly inspired by abstract expressionism.
The Ralli Museum of Marbella was founded by the Harry Recanati Foundation, which also has branches in Uruguay, Chile and Israel. The institution is devoted to the dissemination of contemporary Latin American and European art. The permanent collection, however, includes pieces by Marc Chagall, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí. On display right now is a collective exhibition “Movimiento Espartaco” about the Argentinean movement of the same name that emerged in the late 50’s, highlighted by its social and protest character and its contributions to avant-garde art.
Libertad Couso Gallery
The Libertad Couso Gallery specialises in contemporary painting, drawing and sculpture by leading international artists, with around 400 pieces on display. The museum also offers drawing courses for adults. Classes are given by the gallery’s founder, Libertad Couso, who has over 35 years of experience teaching painting and sculpture and has been a lecturer at the faculty of fine arts at the University of Buenos Aires.
Launched as an initiative by the artist Marifé Núñez, Es.Arte Gallery is situated in San Pedro de Alcántara. It hosts a constantly evolving collection of contemporary art, which is also available for purchase online. The gallery functions as a platform for local artists, curators, art dealers, interior designers and architects who share their knowledge and experiences at gallery workshops.
Art Wanson Gallery
This stylish contemporary art gallery is situated within the famous Marbella Club hotel. The gallery has been around for over two decades, displaying an impressive collection that includes pieces by Cézanne, Picasso, Chagall and Bacon. Other media are also explored throughout the collection, including sculpture, ceramics and photography.
The Magpie International gallery is located just a few streets back from Marbella’s Puerto Deportivo with its yachts and fishing boats. The gallery is dedicated to showcasing the works of emerging artists and offers consulting services to those who want to invest in contemporary art. Aside from the quirky permanent collection, on display now is an exhibition by the Scottish artist Ronagh Wheeler, whose Turner-like landscapes render atmospheric subtleness.
Situated in Polígono Industrial La Ermita, which is Marbella’s industrial district, the gallery’s main distinguishing feature is its vast, garage-like space. On display now are works by a contemporary Argentinian artist and illustrator Emmanuel Lafont.
The Fornara Gallery is located right in the marina of Puerto Banús and is well worth a visit if you like discovering new and exciting artists. Founded back in 1964, it is dedicated to creating opportunities for emerging artists and offers a regular newsletter with new arrivals for those interested in investing in contemporary art.
Marbella also offers an assortment of contemporary exhibitions and pop-up galleries, often hosted by luxurious hotels. Kempinski Hotel Bahia, for instance, successfully runs the Kempinski Art series, a group of events aimed at bringing international artists, musicians and lecturers to Marbella. Ending the 2019 edition, Kempinski is hosting one more exhibition before the end of this year. Running till the end of December, three international artists – Anna Schellberg, San B and Hannes d’Haese – are on display in the hotel’s Art Foyer and Art Gallery. An array of paintings, sculptures and crystalized works make for a spectacular exhibition.
Only a 40-minute drive from Marbella is Malaga, which also boasts an impressive selection of cultural venues. The birthplace of Pablo Ruiz Picasso, it is home to Museo Picasso Málaga, the permanent collection of which features 285 works donated by members of the artist’s family. Unexpectedly, the city also hosts a branch of Saint Petersburg’s Russian Museum, which found a home in a converted tobacco factory. Aside from the impressive permanent collection, it has a new temporary exhibition every year. On display until February 2020 is “Saints, Queens and Workers”, a unique insight into the image of women in Russian art.
Whether you are looking for a way to spend a rare rainy day, to get away from the routine or to simply immerse yourself in the beauty of art, you don’t need to go far. Marbella might not have the museums per square kilometer that Rome or Paris have, but it certainly has plenty of galleries worth spending time in before heading off to the nearest tapas bar.