The Picasso Museum contains a large collection of the artist’s own works donated by him because of the fondness he felt for the city where he lived and studied as a young man. The museum itself is a combination of five palaces in the Born neighborhood. We were not permitted to take photographs in the museum at all though I did manage to take some of the interior of the building. I’m sharing a few highlights that stood out to me.
The Palau Nacional that sits on the hill called Montjuic was the built for the Universal Exposition of 1929. Today it houses the Museu Nacioal d’Art de Catalunya. The art spans 1000 years of art and has probably the world’s greatest display of Romanesque art in the world. There are also works on permanent loan from the Thyssen Bornemisza Collection in Madrid and an extensive collection of contemporary art from Catalunya. From there we walked to the Jean Miro Foundation. I’ve never been a big fan of Miro but there is an amazing work by Alexander Calder and the setting is quite nice. Photographs could not be taken inside the museum, only works outdoors and the Calder image comes from the internet.
Last museum on our list was the Museum of Contemporary Art, housed in a Richard Meier building (same architect as the Getty Museum in Los Angeles). The exhibit we saw was entitled “Desires and Necessities” with all the work we saw there was related to the idea of what space is and how space and ordinary objects can be exhibits themselves. The exhibit included many recent acquisitions to the museum’s collection and it was wonderful to see the integration of a global collection of works.
Interior courtyard of the Picasso Museum
Picasso, “Painting of an Old Man”, 1895, painted when the artist was 14 years old.
Picasso, Pastel of the artist’s mother painted at age 15. A good portion of the collection is his early works which one almost never gets to see. Remarkable to consider his skill at such a young age.
Picasso, “Margot”, 1901. The room that contained this and the next painting were the most interesting as these were painted after his first trip to Paris when he met Toulouse Lautrec and Cezanne
Picasso, Still Life, 1901
An entire two rooms were dedicated to Picasso’s interpretation of Velasquez’ “Las Meninas”. It had seen some of these illustrated but it was great to go back and forth. If you are just finished the Baroque in my class you are familiar with this amazing work. Now you can see how another artist interprets it.
Here is the Infanta. Picasso makes her look like a birthday cake. It seems like an apt interpretation. This whole series was completed in 1957.
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
View from the museum which includes Sagrada Familia off to the right
The museum has the greatest collection of Romanesque art in the world. This is one of a number of 12th century frescoes from San Climent de Taull and Le Seu d’Urgell, mountain churches in the Pyrenees where they were in danger of deteriorating completely or being sold to private collectors or museums abroad.
The museum wanted to preserve them in Catalonia as part of their heritage and so painstakingly removed them from the walls and installed them in a display that mimics the church they came from.
Here is one particularly beautiful niche or apse
This image of Jesus as the Pantokrator is in your textbook if you are in the ancient art history class.
This is the back of the display niche for the frescoes. I almost like the back as much as the front side.
In the same room as the “Christ in Majesty” is a painting by Antoni Tapies “Matter Metal”, 1993
Antoni Tapies, a native son of Barcelona is shown in this photograph with other artists in front of the “Christ in Majesty” when it was installed
Other works in the same section of the museum are these wooden sculptures of Mary from the 12th century. I am always amazed when wood survives this long.
This grouping of figures is so well displayed it makes for a dramatic scene even though it’s totally out of context in the museum. Notice how abstract work is from this time period.
This one is also in the same textbook. I am always pleasantly surprised to find something we are learning about that I had no idea was there. This is the “Batlo Crucifix” from the 12th century.
This John the Baptist has been studied with sophisticated spectrometry to determine what the paint pigments are and created a simulation of the bright colors it would have been in the 12th century.
In another part of the museum we saw Renaissance and Baroque works including this fresco set by Caracci, 1560 that obviously had also been removed from it’s original location.
Large altarpiece doors (front) by Pere Nunyes, 1526. Not an artist I am familiar with but impressed with the scale and in the next slide is the back.
Unusual to get to see both sides
After our visit to the Dali Museum I’m seeing surrealism everywhere- standing on top of floating baby heads…Francisco Zurbaran, a Spanish Baroque painter. “Immaculate Conception”, 1632
Lucas Cranach, “St George and the Dragon” of course the mascot of Barcelona, 1514
How fitting to come back to the Dutch Baroque a few days before departing Barcelona back to Amsterdam. This landscape was painted 1660
The museum has a huge performance space which was interesting to see since we’d seen the Palau Musica earlier in the day. It was quite a contrast.
View of the National Museum from the Miro Foundation
Miro Foundation, started in 1975 by Miro himself to showcase his work and to exhibit the works of artists he admired and influenced him.
Alexander Calder’s “Mercury Fountain” which is flowing mercury was created at the same time that Picasso’s Guernica was (1937) and in this case to acknowledge and protest the mercury mine at Almaden where slaves and prisoners were put to work and who died from mercury poisoning. It’s enclosed on all sides in glass.
This and the following two whimsical works by Miro were the only ones I photographed. This is the mother.
The interior space of the Museum of Contemporary Art is typical for this architect and his hallmark color is white. This comfortable spot was a great place to relax for a little while on our last day in Barcelona.
High above the entrance hall was a three part work by Antoni Tapies who lived his life in Barcelona. We did not get to the Tapies Foundation where the Micro Museum was featured (if you remember from the museum in Ghent). The title for this piece is “Sudden Awakening” and this is part 1
Tapies, Sudden Awakening Part 2
Tapies, Sudden Awakening Part 3. Sorry I could not get far enough away to not have the railing but you get the idea.
I was very happy to see the work of Richard Hamilton. One doesn’t see a lot of this important artist’s work. If you are in the Modern Art class you will find an example of his work in Pop Art where he is often classified. This work is from 195. It was particularly great to see this after seeing so much of Gaudi’s interest in natural forms.
In the 1960s, Hamilton was the central focus of an exhibit entities “Growth and Form” where artists explored the concept of the exhibit space as a work of art itself and that nature itself had an aesthetic of its own.
Marcel Duchamp figures prominently in thinking about what came to be called installations and conceptual art.
Mireia Sallares, “Literature on the Landing”, 2014 is the result of what is known as an intervention in an apartment building in Barcelona where tenants had complained about bad treatment by the landlord and and were evicted from their apartments where they had lived for many years. The vacant apartments were then occupied by various supporters and artists. The publicity about the intervention helped the court case against the landlord and the tenants were victorious.
A video about Volkswagen that talks about their factory being a “symbol for transparency and authenticity”. The work includes text added by the artist, Octavi Comeron from Spain titled the work “Transparent Factory”, 2006. How ironic given to current issues with Volkswagen. Note that Barcelona has a large car manufacturing sector as well.
John Baldessari, “Dwarf and Rhinoceros With Story Called Lamb”, 1989/2013, from this American artist who abandoned painting for more conceptual work. The dwarf is particularly interesting in this work as Francisco Goya was an influence on Baldessari and Goya’s series “Disasters of War” includes this image often. In this case an American artist paying homage to a Spanish artist of the 18th century.
Oyvind Fahlstrom, “Sitting Blocks”, 1966, comic book images of Batman turned into cubist works and stools at the same time. Fahlstrom is from Brazil.
Entrance to the room featuring geographic locations
Francisco Ruiz, “Cairo Newstand”, 2010, stacks of newspapers featuring propaganda related to the Arab Spring uprising. Ruiz is from Barcelona. Note: there were a number of video installations from north African artists (Egypt, Tunisia) but were not reproducible.
Daniel Ortiz and Xose Quiroga, 2013, monuments from around Barcelona of people honored in this way even though they were they played major roles in slavery. Ortiz and Quiroga are from Peru
Marcel Broodthaers, Atlas, 1975 (very small around 3″ tall). Broodthaers is from Belgium
Marcel Broodthaers (part of the Atlas installation). His graphic work has deliberate errors which are not known to the viewer. I was particularly drawn to this work as I like to see map silhouettes as objects of art in an isolated form.
This section of the exhibit had to do with visualizing spaces and uncommon images in them.
Of course, I recognized this immediately as we had just been in Jerusalem and had commented about how raw and vulnerable this seems to have massive gas pipes exposed on the outsides of buildings. This work is by an Israeli artist whose work I had seen at a museum in Jerusalem I formerly talked about last year called Museum on the Seam which happily looks like it is reopening. This artist is Sigalit Landay, titled “Angel” , 2014
Last work was from another exhibit but fit into this theme and something we had noticed about all the blocks in Bareclona. When turning from one street to another (except for alleys) there is this triangular space at either end of every block that allows for a spaciousness for pedestrians and safety for vehicles turning. Title is “Via Laietana” 1988, Sergi Aguilar
Before leaving the museum we saw a special photography exhibit installation of life in Barcelona in the 1960s by local photographer Xavier Miserach, a fitting end to an extraordinary week in this city.
Most of the photographs were arranged in an installation that we walked through as if we were on the streets of Barcelona in those days.
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