The city of the arts

Pablo Picasso spent many of his formative years in Barcelona, the city that also gave birth to Joan Miro and Antoni Tapies. These great artistic figures of the twentieth century have prolonged the ancestral link between Barcelona and the plastic arts. The beauty of the city lies in both the refined talent of artists and craftsmen, present in many different buildings and the wealth of the artistic heritage which may be admired in the abundant museums and collections. The city’s foremost museum is the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya ( MNAC ), located in the Palau Nacional de Montjuic.

This center, refurbished by Gae Aulenti, houses the most important collection of Romanesque mural paintings in the world. At the beginning of the 20th century, many works were retrieved from churches in the Pyrenean Mountain villages and brought here for safekeeping in a conscientious campaign to save them from deterioration. At the same time, the museum possesses a valuable collection of Gothic paintings, and more recent collections reflect the increasing importance of Catalan art in the early 20th century. Aside from the artistic treasures housed within its walls, the MNAC is an interesting building in itself, and the dimensions of its oval hall are quite unmatched. Apart from the heritage of ancient and classical art, which ( MNAC ), located in the Palau Nacional de Montjuic.

This center, refurbished by Gae Aulenti, houses the most important collection of Romanesque mural paintings in the world. At the beginning of the 20th century, many works were retrieved from churches in the Pyrenean mountain villages and brought here for safekeeping in a conscientious campaign to save them from deterioration. At the same time, the museum possesses a valuable collection of Gothic paintings, and more recent collections reflect the increasing importance of Catalan art in the early 20th century. Aside from the artistic treasures housed within its walls, the MNAC is an interesting building in itself, and the dimensions of its oval hall are quite unmatched. Apart from the heritage of ancient and classical art, which

Despite all this fierce competition, the most-visited museum in the city is the one dedicated exclusively to the work of Pablo Picasso, situated in five adjacent palaces on Carrer Montcada. As mentioned in the previous chapter, it houses the best collection of his formative years, along with important works of later eras. The paintings, which offer many examples of the successive revolutions that Picasso imposed on pictorial art, contrast sharply with the medieval surroundings of the museum. Apart from the permanent collection, the Museu Picasso regularly offers temporary exhibitions dedicated to different periods or themes of the artist’s work.

In the heart of the Eixample, the Fundacio Tapies ( Arago, 255 ), houses a splendid collection donated to the city by this Barcelona-born artist and many other exhibitions and is renowned for its marked personality and notable commitment to the arts. The building is an old Modernist construction whose brick facade is crowned by a huge, controversial sculpture by Tapies that cannot pass unnoticed by pedestrians on the busy street corner below.

Upon the Montjuic hill stands yet another center dedicated to a great Catalan artist: the Fundacio Miro, a private institution instigated by the express wish of the painter, not only to show his own work but also that of young artists. The Fundacio is situated in a luminous building of clearly Mediterranean influence where the hustle and bustle of the city seem to be held at bay by its solid concrete walls. Here, paintings, sculptures, and tapestries representative of Miro’s complete works are on permanent show, along with other, temporary exhibitions.

Apart from those mentioned here, many more galleries and foundations ( either publicly or privately funded ), exist in the city, and art lovers will find an endless list of shows and exhibitions at any time of the year.

But art can be found in Barcelona without ever setting foot in a museum or gallery, on the streets themselves. The Columbus monument, at the end of the Rambla, is one of the city’s marks of identity and perhaps the best known of the more than five hundred sculptures and architectural ornaments to be found in the open air. A list of these works, built-in their majority during the nineteenth century ( with many more additions during the last few years ), includes very interesting pieces by both local and foreign artists. Outstanding among them are the spectacular Modernist lampposts on Passeig de Gracia ( Pere Falques ), ElDesconsol ( Llimona ), in the Parc de la Ciutadella opposite the seat of the Catalan parliament, Elogio del agua ( Chillida ), in the Parc de la Creueta del Coll, the aforementioned Nuvol I cadira ( Tapies ), on top of the Fundacio Tapies on Carrer Arago, Dona I cell ( Miro ), in the Parc del Escorxador, the Fish ( Gehry ), in the Olympic village, and Matches ( Oldenburg ) in Vall d’Hebron.

The program of open-air sculpture carried out in Barcelona in recent years has been described by the critic Robert Hughes as “the most ambitious in the western world” and a “unique anthology”. Combined with the simultaneous architectural boom, the city has undergone a new cosmopolitan expansion. Barcelona’s traditional reputation as a city of the arts has now been confirmed, and even heightened, by these renewed undertakings.

1 thought on “The city of the arts”

  1. As a little girl I had several books that contains Picasso’s pictures. I love them dearly, because they always reminded me of children’s books. When I grew up, I realize that he is one of the greatest artist in my opinion, because his works of art represent a state of mind and soul. Everyone see his work in a different way, but even someone who never seen his work can know the difference between the ‘Blue Period’ and ‘Pink Period’, after which he started Cubism, and it’s the artwork he is most known by.

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