The painter who changed the face of 20th century art was born in an unassuming townhouse on Plaza Merced, in the heart of what has become Malaga’s trendiest quarter. Pablo Picasso’s birthplace is now a small museum housing artifacts from the family’s daily life, as well as several works by the artist and his father, who was also a painter and art teacher. However, the city’s main collection of paintings by its most celebrated son is just across town, in the Museo Picasso Malaga, where works spanning every phase of Picasso’s career are on display. The sheer amount of different styles the artist explored attest to his remarkable versatility. Most famous of all, of course, is Cubism (1909-1919), in which he produced many of his most famous works, but this was preceded by the lesser-known Blue (1901-1904) and Rose (1904-1906) periods. Guernica (1937) his gargatuan Spanish Civil War masterpiece, is regarded as one of the most important artworks of the 20th century.
Despite his success, Antonio Banderas has not deserted his hometown: on weekends, he can often be found in the bars and clubs around his apartment in central Malaga, and is apparently always friendly and polite when approached by selfie-seeking admirers. Best remembered for his starring roles as a lonely, brooding outlaw in Desperado (1995) and The Mask of Zorro (1998), Banderas was just 22 when he caught the attention of renowned Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, casting him in his first film, Labyrinth of Passion, in 1982. Ten years later, Banderas began his assault on Hollywood – still only possessing a basic command of English – and achieved his breakthrough with a starring role in 1993’s Philadelphia opposite Tom Hanks. Now fluent in English, Banderas still has trouble with the word ‘animals’ and uses synonyms for it whenever possible.
Notable for his remarkably high-pitched voice, singer and all-round entertainer Antonio Molina was born in the small town of Totalán, in the hilly, sun-baked countryside about 20 miles out of Malaga city. The people of this typical pueblo blanco are understandably proud of their most distinguished son, having named one of the town’s central squares Plaza Antonio Molina – a space which also features a bust and ceramic plate in memory of the artist. Molina is often referred to as a flamenco singer, but his music was more a blend of 1940s/1950s popular Spanish music with some of the traditional rhythms and themes of flamenco; particularly evident in one of his most famous songs, Soy Minero (I Am a Miner). Molina also tried his hand at acting and appeared in some well-received films, such as 1958’s El Cristo de los Faroles (The Christ of the Lanterns). Top marks go to any Culture Trip reader who’s seen it.
Writer and philosopher Maria Zambrano is remembered in her home city by Malaga’s main train station, named after her by the Spanish rail operator RENFE in 2007. Born into a literary family in Velez-Malaga, Zambrano spent most of her adult life outside Spain. A passionate supporter of the Republican cause during the country’s devastating Civil War of 1936-39, the philosopher went into exile after Franco’s Fascist forces won the conflict. Until her return to Spain in the mid-80s, Zambrano wrote and taught in Mexico, Cuba, France and Switzerland. It was during these years abroad that she produced what are considered to be her two masterpieces – Filosofia y Poesía (Philosophy and Poetry, 1939) and La Agonia de Europa (The Agony of Europe, 1945). Zambrano was awarded the Miguel de Cervantes prize in 1988, in recognition of her outstanding achievements in the Spanish language.