Must see art in Barcelona

Published in About My Generation

A guide to this culturally unique Spanish city

Barcelona has produced some of the most prominent artists to have ever existed including Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro. It’s therefore no surprise that art is a big thing in Barcelona, which can be seen in the never-ending list of museums and galleries. If you’re visiting on a weekend break or are staying for a longer holiday to Barcelona then work through this round up of the must see art in the Catalan Capital.

Museu Picasso Barcelona is devoted to the artist himself in the beautiful Palau Aguilar in Borne, which comprises of five palaces. The museum has been going for five decades and its extraordinary popularity is reflected in the abundance of tourists and locals that visit ever year. There is a permanent collection of roughly 3500 of Picasso’s pieces, which takes up three of the palaces and the other two hold temporary exhibitions. The gallery, which opened in 1963 has laid out Picasso’s work in a chronological order and almost each decade or movement has its own room. The rooms flow from one to another as smoothly as the transition in his Picasso’s evolution and the museum has done a fantastic job of representing this clearly. The works exhibited include paintings from his La Llotja art school years, when he was part of Catalonia’s fin-de-siècle avant-garde set, his Cubist paintings and his Blue Period works.

Nearby in the Gothic barrio is the Salvador Dali museum, which isn’t quiet as large and impressive as the Picasso Museum, but it’s still great and definitely worth a visit. The museum is dedicated to Dali and his Surrealist works are housed in a space that feels quite bizarre and maze like, due to the small rooms that wind into other unexpected rooms and sheer abundance of work on display. Find 44 of Dali’s sculptures from the 70s in the museum. The real selling point of the exhibition is that all of the sculptures on display are completely of Dali’s creation, without the input of any collaborative artists, providing the ultimate representation of his work.

In the adjacent neighbourhood, Raval, resides the city’s modern art museum Museu d’Art Contemporni de Barcelona, more commonly known as MACBA. The building is like a big, white box and was designed by Richard Meier and erected in 1995 as part of an on going project to try and clean up the area. The contemporary art includes many different mediums that are enabled by MACBA’s wide range of facilities, such as the cinema room and the spacious galleries that are perfect for the large installations often displayed. The art includes pieces by local and international artists. There is a permanent collection that focuses on the latter half of the 20th century and includes artists such as John Cage and Bruce Nauman that experimented with media, sounds and performance art during the 1960s and 70s. The temporary shows concentrate on unusual, contemporary research works.

At the other end of the museum spectrum is Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya also known as MNAC, which is near to the Plaza Espana entrance of Parc Monjuic. The museum houses an enormous amount of Catalan art from the 12th to the 20th centuries. The Romanesque collection is the most impressive part of the gallery and includes murals from church apses in the Pyrenees. The Gothic collection is also remarkable and definitely worth spending some time on. The works begin with some late-13th century pieces including church carvings and paintings from Catalan artists including Jaume Huguet. There is also a great Modernista collection that comprises of unique furniture and murals by Ramon Casas.

About a 10 minute walk further up the mountain is the Fundació Joan Miró, a museum celebrating the Catalan artist. The building itself, which was designed by Josep Lluís Sert, is very light and has lots of water themed designs and a beautiful garden full of Miró’s sculptures. The bold, light theme of the museum fits well with Miró’s bright coloured, Cubist works, of which there are 225 paintings, 150 sculptures and 5000 drawings in the gallery. There is a permanent collection that’s been organised into chronological order in big, spacious, airy rooms and on the terrace, at the top of the museum, more of Miró’s quirky sculptures are exhibited.

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