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Contemporary Art in Barcelona
Artstyle 18 Jul 2015

Contemporary Art in Barcelona

If your vacations bring you to the Catalan coast over the summer, Barcelona is not only about the Park Güell and la Sagrada Familia. Catalonia, and Barcelona more precisely, is home to many of the most famous Spanish artists of the 20th and 21th century and offers a variety of contemporary art museums and centers worth checking out.

Discover Artsper suggestions of the best spots not to miss !



If only for its location in a gothic Catalan palace of the Born district, this museum is worth your while.

The idea of the museum came from the artist’s wish himself, who arrived in Barcelona at the age of 14 to study Fine Art. The museum collection recounts Picasso’s artistic evolution chronologically, with a special focus on his early works.

Contrary to the Picasso Museum of Paris, you won’t necessary see classic Picasso masterpieces. The originality of the place lays in its impressive collection of works from the artist’s early period, most of them coming from Picasso’s own collection. Those works, executed in the utmost classical style, reveal a precocious artistic virtuosity, which casts a new light on his cubism revolution later on.

To learn more.



If you are in Barcelona, you might as well have a look at the foundation of another of the most famous Spanish artists in the world: Joan Miró.

Located in the Montjuic parc –which is worth checking out in itself- this foundation is inside a sleek building designed by Miró’s friend, Jose Lluis Sert, in collaboration with the artist. It hosts the most comprehensive body of work by Joan Miró in a variety of media: about 200 paintings, 200 sculptures and over 6,200 sketches and notes gathered by Miró all along his life, as well as books, engravings and tapestries.

The entire artistic trajectory of the artist is on display, from his early years in Barcelona to his latest works as well as the multiple influences and movement he took part in through the 20th century, such as surrealism for example.

To learn more.



In the heart of the famous « El Raval » district, on the plaza dels Àngels often filled with local skaters, you will find the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona.

In an ultra-modern building designed by the American architect Richard Meier, this museum primarily exhibits works from the second half of the 20th century. Don’t expect to find the superstars of Spanish modern art like Picasso or Dali though: the MACBA prefers to show less known artists, and speaks to a rather well-informed crowd.

No masters then, but very eclectic exhibitions highlighting the political, social and economic issues of our time, as well as many documentaries to watch in comfortable armchairs for those who have the time.

To learn more.



Right next to the MACBA, the Contemporary Culture Center of Barcelona will offer you an original stake on today’s art scene as well as a wide range of cultural events: lectures, festivals, concerts, cinema, classes and roundtables.

CCCB’s approach is to promote creative development through technology and language in relation with current issues of society. The museum particularly welcomes independent artists and creators and out of the box artworks.

This summer: “Piso Piloto”, an exhibition dedicated to housing and public space issues in big cities.

To learn more.



Maybe less mainstream than his Spanish compatriots Picasso and Miró, Antoni Tapiès is one of the best representatives of post-war Spanish avant-garde.

Several of his pieces are on view in public places and buildings across Barcelona (Parliament of Catalonia, Passeig Picasso…)

Founded by the artist himself in 1984, the Tapiès Foundation counts 300 artworks (engravings, drawings, paintings and sculptures) coming from Antoni Tapiès’ own collection for the most part: a chance to discover the evolution of the artist, from his beginnings to his late works. Up until his death in 2012, Antoni Tapiès and his wife endowed the foundation with new pieces every year.

To learn more.



For those who like dialogue between art and urban environment, « street art tours » are booming in big cities around the world (Berlin, London, Paris…):  the concept is to walk around town with a guide, often street artist or in touch with the scene, who will make you discover the jewels hidden just under your nose. You might think that because street art is in the street, you don’t need to pay to see it, but as for every art genre, it does require a bit of decoding and insights to fully appreciate.

In Barcelona, street art is everywhere and up until recently, artists from all over the world would flock to the city to enjoy the freedom that prevailed: one could paint a wall in midday without being bothered by the police. This golden age is unfortunately over but the town remembers and some of the most famous street artists on its walls are here to prove it: Btoy, Miss Van, C215, PEZ and many others.

A truly uncommon way to discover a town !



The Suñol Foundation, located a few meters away from the famous Casa Mila by Gaudi on the Passeig de Gracia, is home to some 1,200 artworks by about 200 artists –mostly Spanish- from the private collection of Josep Suñol spanning from 1915 to 2006.

The collection counts renowned international artists such as Warhol, Picasso, Miró, Dalí, Tàpies, Man Ray, Giacometti and many others.

You can also enjoy temporary exhibitions, concerts, workshops and lectures of all kinds.

This summer: “Italia. The Six Senses” , an exhibition on Italian art from futurism to conceptual art.



In Spain, banks also get involved in art. Two of the most prominent Spanish banks (Banco Santander and Caixa) are huge actors of the national artistic and cultural life.

CaixaForum, located in an old textile factory of Barcelona is a cultural center managed by La Caixa through its foundation as a non-for-profit. The programming is very varied: exhibitions of classical, modern and contemporary art, movie projection, concerts, roundtable discussions, lecture and literature reading.

This summer: “Alva Aalto. 1898-1976. Arquitectura orgánica, are y diseño”, an exhibition on the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who inspired the new generation of Spanish architects who formed the Grup R in the 1950’s and published the Alhambra Manifesto in 1953 promoting modern architecture.

To learn more.



The Centre d’Arts Santa Mònica is located in a historical monument –an old 18th century convent of the same name- in the must-see district of El Raval. This artistic center is dedicated to contemporary creation with a specific focus of the Catalan scene. There are over 20 exhibitions per year as well as many other activities.

This summer, « TOMAS VAN HOUTRYVE · BLUE SKY DAYS » an exhibition that arose from a project on the military use of drones.

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