Art Lovers Guide to Barcelona

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Barcelona is a coastal city known for its culture and creativity as well as its economical and financial hub. It is also home to more than 1.6 million people and a tourism spot for over 5.5 million more every year. It lauds some of the best beaches and parks in the world. But it also has the best art.

All over the city, you can see works by Antoni Gaudí as well as Joan Miró with spectacular architecture, monuments, and other attractions. After you drop off your luggage at one of the luggage storage lockers in Barcelona you can get out and see some of the fantastic art galleries, museums, and architecture.

National Art Museum of Catalonia (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya)

Located on Montjuic Hill near Placa d’Espanya, the National Art Museum of Catalonia is well-known for its stellar collection of Romanesque church frescos and the Catalan modernism and noucentisme collection from the late 1800s. The 1929 building is an Italian-style structure also known as the National Palace.

The Romanesque art pieces include the Apse of Sant Climent de Taull painted in 1123 and a large collection of Limoges artworks such as the bronze Mondonedo Crosier from sometime in the 1200s. In fact, the 1123 Maria de Taull collection is one of the largest collections of Romanesque frescoes in Spain.

Another very popular painting is the Agnes of Rome by Massimo Stanzione from 1635. It is unique because of the bare shoulder of the model, which would have been considered eroticism back then. It also has poetry on the back of the canvas about Saint Agnes dating back to the 1800s cut from a book or document.

Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art

It began in 1959 when art critic Alexander Pellicer convinced a group of artists to show their works in 23 exhibits to begin a new collection for a museum. But it took almost 40 more years for the museum to be created and open to the public as the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art

The gorgeous building was built in Angels Plaza, in the oldest section of the city right across from the namesake, Convent of Angels in the Gothic center of Barcelona. The museum boasts about 5,000 pieces dating back to the mid-1900s. Much of it is focused on Catalan and Spanish artwork done after 1945.

Some of the most popular include 11 pieces by Ignasi Aballi in 1958, 109 works by Marcel Broodthaers from 1924 to 1976, and 68 pieces by Gego from 1912 to 1994. Francesc Torres also has 74 artworks from 1948 on display and Nancy Spero has six dating back to 1927. 

Fundació Joan Miro

Joan Miro was a well-known Spanish sculptor, ceramicist, and painter with most of his work interpreted as Surrealism. He actually went to business school at 14 and was a clerk for many years. After suffering a nervous breakdown, he gave up his business and concentrated on his main passion, which was art.

He held his first show in 1918 in Barcelona before going to Paris where he met Picasso. His earlier pieces were influenced by Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cezanne. And some of his surrealist pieces like The Farm from 1922, The Tilled Field from 1924, and The Hunter from 1924 portray his life on his parent’s farm in Paris. 

Many of the artwork showcased in the Fundacio Joan Miro Museum are pieces donated by Miro. Some of these include the 1917 Street in Pedralbes, Portrait of a Young Girl from 1919, and Morning Star, done in 1940. Besides Miro’s works, the art museum features young artists, which is what Miro asked for. 


Picasso Museum

Everyone has heard of Picasso and since he was from Spain, of course, there must be a Picasso Museum to visit. The artist spent most of his life in France but grew up in Malaga, Spain, and was one of the most popular artists in the 20th century. He was a sculptor, ceramicist, and painter as well as a theater designer.

The Picasso Museum is home to one of the largest collections of his work in the Old City of the La Ribera neighborhood. It is in a group of five Gothic palaces on Montcada Street that were once the homes of several wealthy merchants. These impressive structures date back to the 1200s and are works of art on their own.

The collection is grouped into three parts including ceramics, engravings, and paintings/drawings. Most pieces were from his Blue Period, with a total of over 3,500 pieces throughout the museum. Some of these include Mountain Landscape from 1896, the 1900 Decadent Poet, and The Offering from 1908.

Casa Vicens

Antoni Gaudi was a famous Catalan architect who was renowned for his Modernism works and most of his structures are in Barcelona. Most people consider his main work to be the Church of the Sagrada Family, but his first major project was Casa Vincens, planned in 1878 and built between 1883 and 1885.  

His first actual works were lampposts that he made for The Royal Plaza as well as furniture, display cases, and other work for merchants in town. The Casa Vicens was built for Manuel Vicens as a summer home for his family in Gracia and was declared a historic art monument in 1969 with 15 of his other structures.

The building itself is four levels with a wrought-iron balcony, hand-painted planters, exposed brick, and ceramic tiles. The tiles were painted with yellow carnations he found on the site before breaking ground. The building also features 32 paintings by Francesc Torrescassana, who was a famous Catalan painter.To see more artwork, take a walk around the city where you will find a variety of Art Nouveau, Roman, and Gothic works from sculptures to wall paintings. There are two entire parks dedicated to works by Miro and Gaudi. Also, Homage to Picasso done by Antoni Tapies can be seen with other tributes to the artist at Citadel Park.

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