You may think of Barcelona as a centre for wonderful historical architecture, romantic culture and even miles of Mediterranean beaches. All of that is certainly true, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find some starkly modern and abstract sights to intrigue your mind.
The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art is the place to go if you want to experience the kind of artwork that puzzles you and makes you think. I think that spending an afternoon in artistic confusion is as much fun as going shopping, though not everyone will agree.
Much of the gallery is dedicated to very cutting-edge contemporary artwork but there are several excellent exhibits of earlier periods of modern art (going back to about the 1930s). Personally, I find it interesting to see how artistic and social expression has evolved over the past several decades. The changes from one era to the next were just as telling as the individual pieces of art themselves.
The museum is held in a bright white building with clean square lines but with a large gridwork of windows along one wall that brings in waves of natural light. Inside, the gallery spaces were airy, open and allowed you to move around freely so you could see each piece from whatever vantage point you wished. It was quiet enough that my husband and I could have several discussions as we walked, yet we didn’t feel the need to be overly hushed while we were talking. It was just a comfortable atmosphere all around.
The regular collections include a variety of mediums, from photography, paintings, sculpture and many one-of-a-kind media installations. You never knew what is going to be around the next corner as you move from one gallery to the next. Their collection focuses on Spanish and Catalan artists but there are are several notable artists represented from around the world.
I found the best pieces to be the ones that made no sense at first glance and forced me to sit and think about them before getting any idea about their statements. The “vintage modern” work of Alexander Calder was some of my favourites. From the 1930s, his rod and sphere mobiles were graceful and mechanical at the same time. I admit I never did really get the point of them but I loved them anyway. It killed me that I couldn’t take any photos. There was some really remarkable pieces. I had to settle for a handful of postcards and a big illustrated book from the gift shop.
If you’re a real devotee of modern art, you will want to plan some time to see their archives and reading room. There are a load of resources there that are not out on display (books, music, magazines, smaller pieces of artwork) that will be of interest to art lovers.
Sometimes a gallery of modern art is a refreshing change from the traditional styles of artwork that most collections hold. Do you enjoy modern artwork or do you prefer more conventional works. Have any pieces of modern art made an impact on you during your travels?