Things to do in Spain
during your leisure time. Museums in Barcelona
|Opening time: Tue-Sat/ Bank holidays:10-20/
The Barcelona Picasso Museum clearly confirms the
ties that unite Pablo Picasso with the city of Barcelona.
He did not only finish a solid academic training here,
but the artistic effervescence that he experienced in
the city was the starting point that opened up for him
the path to modernity.
The museum has the most important and exhaustive collections
of the works of Pablo Picasso's youth and education,
in particular the ones he did between 1895 and 1904,
the years in which the young artist lived in our city.
The solid conventional academic training that the young
Picasso received between 1891 and 1897 -under his father's
tutelage- in the fine arts schools in La Coruña, Barcelona
and Madrid, is well-represented by a range of work that
shows the artist's mastery of his craft, as also is
his foray into official competitions, which led to key
work during the time of his training, such as First
Communion (Barcelona, 1896) and Science and Charity
(Barcelona, 1897). His links to Catalan Modernisme and,
in particular, to the artists and intellectuals that
used to meet at the mythical tavern, Els Quatre Gats,
are reflected in a series of works, chiefly in the portraits
that he made of many regular customers.
This proximity to the Catalan avant-garde gave rise
to his first trips to Paris, which led to work of a
marked Post-Impressionist character and to a strident
use of colour, such as in Nana and Margot (Paris, 1901).
This polychrome period was followed by his blue period
(1901-1904), dominated by the use of only blue tonalities,
which are displayed in works as important as The Madman,
or The Abandoned, and by his rose period (1905), which
is illustrated in The Portrait of Señora Canals.
Also noteworthy is the very important collection of
work done in 1917, the year of his collaboration with
Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, and the magnificent paintings
of 1957, made up by the paintings of Las Meninas, which
was a splendid analytical exercise, using Velázquez'
work as a starting point. The museum also possesses
a very wide representation of engravings and lithographs
that the artist executed prolifically, along with a
set of forty-two pieces of ceramics bequeathed by Jacqueline
Picasso in 1982.
The Picasso Museum occupies five medieval palaces:
Aguilar, Baró de Castellet, Meca, Casa Mauri, and Palau
Finestres, which have been restored various times throughout
the centuries. The restoration carried out in the eighteenth
century by the Baron of Castellet in the palace that
bears his name stands out. This was done in one of the
halls on the main floor. Medieval elements still remain
in the Aguilar and Finestres palaces, such as the painted
beams in one of the rooms on the ground floor.
Foundation Joan Miro
Opening time: Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat:10-19/
Thu:10-21.30/ Sun/Bank holidays:10-14.30 H
The Foundation was set up on the initiative of Joan
Miró thanks to the donations he made to his home town.
Opened to the public in 1975, Miró conceived it as a
living centre where students and the general public
could become familiar with his work as well as with
contemporary art trends.
The permanent exhibition of a large part of the collection
of Miró's work belonging to the Foundation provides
a tour of the artist's creative production, from the
earliest drawings, produced in 1901, to the large-format
paintings of his last period. The work exhibited also
speaks for the wealth and variety of Miró's universe,
which includes a wide range of techniques such as painting,
drawing, the graphic work, sculpture and tapestry. The
Foundation is also home to Alexander Calder's "Mercury
Fountain" -exhibited at the 1937 Paris Exhibition alongside
Picasso's "Gernika" and Joan Miró's "Catalan Reaper"-
and a collection of work by contemporary artists donated
in homage to Joan Miró.
The Joan Miró Foundation, as a Centre for the Study
of Contemporary Art, organises temporary exhibitions
with the object of introducing the public to the leading
figures and subject matter of twentieth-century art.
It also provides exhibition space for work by young
artists and holds regular concerts of contemporary music,
video projections, seminars, etc. The Foundation's aim
is to relate avant-garde art to the latest creative
work, and thereby link it to experience. Josep Lluís
Sert, a great friend of Miró, designed the building
in an obviously Mediterranean style. He conceived it
as a light and airy architectural structure, with its
terraces overlooking the city, its interior patios and
its combination of forms contributing to a harmonious
relationship between architecture and the landscape.
|Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes
The Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes
is a historical and artistic monument of the first magnitude.
It was founded in 1326 by King James II the Just and
Queen Elisenda of Montcada, his fourth and last wife.
Following the death of the King in 1327, the Queen fitted
out part of the living quarters already completed in
the cloistral complex, to which she added the rest of
the rooms which eventually made up the Palace, where
she lived for the last thirty-seven years of her life.
Pedralbes is a typical example of the Gothic structure
and style of a medieval monastery of the fourteenth
and fifteenth centuries. The chapel, the cloister -one
of the most spacious and harmonious in the world-, Saint
Michael's cell, with Ferrer Bassa's (1936) magnificent
murals, the queen's grave, the day cells -where the
monks enjoyed the occasional moment of isolation-, are
a must for any visitor. The Chapter Hall contains the
most significant works of art, including paintings,
ceramics and furniture. Rooms such as the infirmary,
the kitchen, the refectory, the procures, etc. and the
furniture on show there, all preserved as though the
monks who used them still lived there, keep alive the
atmosphere of an enclosed monastery.
Declared a national historical and artistic monument
in 1991, part of the Monastery is still enclosed. The
collections exhibited in the Museum today are the patrimony
of the order of Saint Clare. The nuns' former dormitory
and the Great Hall of Queen Elisenda's Palace, which
have recovered their splendour in the latest refurbishing,
have since 1993 housed a painstaking selection of medieval,
Renaissance and baroque art from the Thyssen-Bornemisza
Museum of Modern Art
The collections of the Museum of Modern Art follow
on from those of the Museum of Catalan Art to complete
a period spanning the eleventh to twentieth centuries.
The collections preserved today at the Palau de la Ciutadella
summarize and illustrate the path followed by Catalan
art during the nineteenth century and the first thirty
years of the twentieth century. The oldest works in
this centre's collections correspond to the Neoclassical
style, represented by significant artists in this movement
in Catalonia, such as the painter Josep Flaugier, who
set up the first public museum of painting in Barcelona,
and the sculptor Damia Campeny. Of the Romantics, visitors
can contemplate compositions by Claudio Lorenzale, Pelegri
Clave and Joaquin Espalter and landscapes by Lluis Rigalt.
Amongst the artists of the last century, the figure
that most stands out is Maria Fortuny, the leading Catalan
artist of the nineteenth century, who painted a large
number of Moorish themes, although it was the style
known as precisosisme that brought him international
recognition. The works of Ramon Marti i Alsina, Antoni
Caba, Simo Gomez and Benet Mercade are representative
of the realist movement, which had an important following
in Catalonia. In this respect, we can also single out
the landscapes by Joaquim Vayreda, the maximum exponent
of the Olot school.
The Museum offers the visitor a global, comprehensive
view of Catalan Modernism which perfectly illustrates
the significance of this extensive movement which renewed
the city of Barcelona. There are paintings by the first
generation of Modernists, led by Santiago Rusiñol and
Ramon Casas. Joaquim Mir, Isidre Nonell and Francesc
Gimeno are powerful painters belonging to the second
Modernist generation. The most important of the movement's
sculptors include Miquel Blay, Eusebi Arnau, Enric Clarasso
and Josep Llimona. The decorative arts, which played
a central role in Modernism, are also represented, with
furniture by Joan Busquets, Gaspar Homar and Antoni
Gaudi. Noucentisme, a broad cultural movement that favoured
a return to Classicism, is present in the sculptures
of Josep Clara, Enric Casanovas and Manolo Hugue, and
in the paintings of Joaquim Sunyer, Xavier Nogues and
An outstanding painting from Salavdor Dalí's early
period completes the collections from this period, and
opens the way to the magnificent series of avant-garde
sculpture by Pau Gargallo and Juli Gonzalez, which complete
the permanent exhibition.
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