Part 1: Barcelona Architecture
One cannot talk about Barcelona's architecture without mentioning Antoni Gaudi. Part of the Modernista movement of the late 19th Century, Antoni Gaudi is Barcelona's most famous architect. Almost anywhere you look in Barcelona, Gaudi had some part in its creation, from the houses, apartment buildings, churches, sidewalks, parks, and even the city benches lining the streets. In Modernism, nature was a huge element present in decorative motifs as well as present in the actual architectural structure of Gaudi's buildings. Below are some of Gaudi's masterpieces, but there are dozens of others throughout Barcelona to visit and experience.
I really enjoyed seeing Casa Batllo, which is situated on a main street in the heart of Barcelona. Mosaic is everywhere. The Chimneys of the building are works of art. The roof is representational of a dragon's back. The exterior facade demonstrates Gaudi's expert use of texture and color. Below are some photos of the exterior of the building as well as the interior. The sidewalk tiles as shown in the photos below line the streets and feature an underwater, marine-life motif.
Gaudi's Sagrada Familia is innovative and highly symbolic. The architect's objective was to explain the teachings of the Church through sculpture and architecture. Following Gaudi's death, work on the Sagrada Familia continues to be carried out by collaborating architects and artists. The project is expected to be complete by 2026, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.
The stained glass windows were perhaps one of the most beautiful aspects of the Sagrada Familia. The colors were so vivid and bright.
Park Guell is another one of Gaudi's masterpieces. It was build between 1900 and 1914. It was opened as a public park where Gaudi let his imagination run wild with his incredible use of mosaics throughout the park. Below are some photos of Park Guell. The mosaic work is unbelievable and reminds me very much of the mosaic illusion that I paint in many of my own paintings.
La Pedrera is also known as Casa Mila. It was completed in 1912 as an apartment building. There are curved walls that seemingly defy the laws of gravity. The rooftop is amazing at night and includes all of Gaudi's architectural trademarks. Bricks in the attic create arched ceilings and are uniquely used using the log side of the brick, which also features the brick-maker's fingerprints. There are terrific wrought iron balconies and exquisite ceramic mosaics. I highly recommend visiting La Pedrera by booking a night tour, which includes a full tour of the building and a surreal visual light display on the rooftop under the stars, followed by a champagne toast and cookies!
Although my time in Barcelona didn't permit me to visit the Palau Guell, I should mention that it is an excellent example of one of Antonio Gaudi's early architectural masterpieces. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a magnificent example of domestic architecture in the context of Art Nouveau and one of the first important commissions Gaudi received at the start of his career. It is located just steps away from La Rambla, not far from La Boqueria.
Part 2: Barcelona's Art Museums and Fine Art
A Guide to Visiting Barcelona's Museums:
If you plan to visit Barcelona, I highly recommend purchasing the Barcelona Museum Pass, also known as an art passport from ArtTicket BCN, which will give you access to six Barcelona museums, including the ability to skip the lines. The Passport give you access to the Picasso Museum (Museu Picasso), the Joan Miro Museum (Fundacio Joan Miro), the National Museum of Art of Catalunya (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya), the Antoni Tapies Museum (Fundacio Antoni Tapies), the CCCB, and the MACBA. I purchased the passport online (for 30 Euros), and simply showed the ticket to the first museum I visited to receive the passport. The passport is stamped upon entry at each museum. To learn more about the ArtTicket BCN, check out their website: http://articketbcn.org/en/barcelona-museum-pass. I should also mention that it is very important to check the hours of each of the museums as they vary significantly. Most museums, with a few exceptions, are closed on Mondays. Also, all city museums are free at last one afternoon per month, so be sure to check the websites in advance for hours and special exhibition dates.
If you're interested in contemporary art, check out this website that provides a network devoted to contemporary art in Barcelona: http://www.artbarcelona.es/circuit/en/.
Picasso Museum in Barcelona
The Museu Picasso of Barcelona is a wonderful center documenting Pablo Picasso's early years of apprenticeship. With over 4,000 works of art in its permanent collection, you'll see why this museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Barcelona.
The Picasso Museum highlights the artist’s relationship with the city of Barcelona. I learned that Pablo Picasso's father was a teacher at the San Telmo Fine Art and Crafts School. and had an important influence on Picasso's future career as an artist, who demonstrated a strong interest in art from a very young age. There are some drawings and small panels in oil that give an idea of his efforts to give his own creativity free rein and explore new techniques by taking in his immediate environment.
In Barcelona, Pablo Picasso continued his art education at the La Llotja Fine Art School. The photos here show his artwork featuring Barceloneta Beach and two ports. After taking these photos, I learned that photos were not allowed, so unfortunately, I do not have photos showing the rest of the museum. This Picasso museum focused on his earlier works, and very few on display were "well-known Picasso masterpieces." The museum highlighted Picasso's creative process of some of his work of his Blue Period. Some of the highlights of the museum included Las Meninas Series. This was a series of paintings based on the Velazquez painting Las Meninas.
For more information, please visit www.museupicasso.bcn.cat.
Fundacio Joan Miro
The Joan Miro Museum (Fundacio Joan Miro) is located in the Montjuic area of Barcelona and houses the work of Joan Miro as well as temporary exhibitions of 20th and 21st Century art. The collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings displayed at the museum is one of the most comprehensive collections representing every stage of Miro's career as an artist. There are paintings related to Surrealism and works based on the Spanish Civil War. Miro's work on large canvases in the late 1970s onward demonstrate his use of large color fields and painting with free gesture.
For more information, please visit www.fmirobcn.org.
Museums Further Afield from Barcelona:
In the town of Girona, I visited the Museum of Jewish History. The goal of the Museum is to preserve the history of the Jewish communities of Catalunya. Art at this museum included various Jewish ritual objects. Be sure to visit if you are in Girona, which is not far from Figueres, where the Dali Museum is located.
On of my favorite pieces was this one below entitled, "Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at a distance of 20 meters is transformed into the portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko).” Gala was his wife and muse for many years.
The exterior of the museum is a work of art as well. Statues with loaves of bread on their heads. Inside the museum in the open air courtyard is a spectacular and wild work of art called, "Rainy Taxi". If you put a Euro in the slot located at the base of the artwork, it will rain inside the taxi, and an umbrella will open up on top of the artwork!
The museum includes paintings by Old Masters with works from the 13th Century to the 18th Century. The largest section of the museum is devoted to works from the 19th and 20th Centuries and includes a wonderful selection of Catalan painting and sculpture of the Modern period. I was very impressed with their collection of paintings by the great masters of French and international impressionism (Degas, Sisley, Monet, Pisarro, Sargent, etc.). Picasso and Dali, avant-garde artists are also well represented!
Part 3: Barcelona's Public Art
The streets of Barcelona are filled with art by world renowned artists. Below are just a few of these that I came across on my artistic journey.
PS: If you liked this article, you might like these other articles on my artistic travels:
Los Angeles, California
New York City
New York City Street Art
Napa Valley, California
Park City, Utah
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