During the summer, many visitors come to Barcelona for the glorious weather and lazy days on the beach. But when the sands have cooled and the leaves start to fall, the city’s vibrant exhibition spaces spring to life, offering a different cultural mix for your entertainment.
Here are five exhibitions not to be missed this autumn:
Rosemarie Castoro. Focus at Infinity
A convenient place to start, in the heart of the city centre, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) is a cube of modern design by American architect Richard Meier. Situated among some of Barcelona’s oldest streets, and built as part of a revamping of the Raval neighbourhood’s public spaces, the venture was a huge success. Since opening in 1995, the stepped square outside has become a favourite spot for local youths to show off their skateboarding skills while the interior is dedicated to exhibiting some of the world’s most renowned modern artists.
The current exhibition focuses on the heart of the avant-garde in New York, circa 1964, through the work of American artist Rosemarie Castoro (1939–2015). ‘Focus at Infinity’ is the first major institutional exhibition of this artist, who established her career in the context of Minimalism and Conceptualism in the US. Over the years, the multifaceted Castoro engaged in many art forms, including abstract painting, conceptual works, performance art in the street and studio, poetry, sculpture and installations.
This exhibition considers Castoro’s unique contribution to the various mediums she used, and addresses how key contributors to Minimalism have yet to be given due attention, particularly female artists in a movement often overshadowed by men.
MACBA. Pl. dels Àngels. Until April 15th, 2018.
After the End of the World
A short stroll around the corner will bring you to the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), which occupies the old Casa de Caritat almshouse building, dating from 1802. The premises were remodelled in 1993 by architects Helio Piñón and Albert Viaplana, who were awarded the Ciutat de Barcelona architecture prize for their efforts. The current exhibition, ‘After the End of the World’, explores how the latter half of the 21st century will look, and examines society’s responsibility to future generations. Beyond scientific explanations of climate change, the exhibition uses art and simulation to show how much humans have already depleted the planet’s resources.
Multidisciplinary pieces engage viewers with what could happen if the Paris Agreement—that seeks to reduce carbon emission—isn’t successful. Such pieces include Superflux, a speculative look at what a London apartment in the year 2050 might look like, and the Environmental Health Clinic, a reimagining of relations between different animal and plant life forms, created by engineer and artist Natalie Jeremijenko.
CCCB. Montalegre 5. Until April 29th, 2018.
Hell according to Rodin
Fundación MAPFRE is just above the main thoroughfare Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes. No matter what the exhibition, it’s worth visiting for the building’s spectacular architecture alone. The art space is located in Casa Garriga Nogués, which, on the outside, appears to be just another block of apartments, identical to all the rest in the Eixample district. But the architect Enric Sagnier designed its stunning interior to embrace different styles, from Rococo and Neoclassicism to Modernism. Standout features include the vestibule, which is made up of a courtyard with classic columns, at the centre of which is an extravagant marble staircase leading up to the higher floors, and a large, neoclassical style living room with columns of green marble and golden bronze capitals.
The space is currently hosting ‘Hell According to Rodin’, which offers a new perspective on a single iconic work by the artist. Auguste Rodin, considered by many to be the father of modern sculpture, was commissioned in 1880 to create a pair of bronze doors for a new decorative arts museum in Paris. He spent 37 years completing The Gates of Hell (1917), inspired by Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy. Although the intended museum never opened, Rodin’s work was hailed as a masterpiece and has influenced the evolution of sculpture ever since. This new showing of the piece aims to give insight into Rodin’s image of hell as a mysterious, tormented and tempestuous place, but also to shed light on Rodin’s life and the history of this masterpiece.
Fundación MAPFRE. Diputació 250. Until January 21st, 2018.
1917. Picasso in Barcelona.
An artist closely associated with Barcelona (though he was originally from Málaga), Pablo Picasso continues to be honoured and appreciated in the Catalan capital. Although he relocated to Paris in 1904, Picasso periodically returned to Barcelona to work. His longest stay occurred in the year 1917, a period the Museu Picasso has chosen to focus on in its current exhibition. Picasso spent six months alternating between his well-known Cubist style and a more classical, realist approach, exemplified in Woman with Mantilla [Fatma] (1917). With documents, drawings, sketches, and all but one of his oil paintings from that time, the exhibition aims to give a comprehensive view of how the artist spent his time in the city.
Museu Picasso. Montcada 15-23. Until January 28th, 2018.
Ramon Pichot. De Els Quatre Gats a la Maison Rose
A friend and contemporary of Picasso, but a lesser-known Spanish artist, who nonetheless had a huge impact on the history of art in the country, Ramon Pichot is the subject of a major winter exhibition at Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC). Born in Barcelona, Pichot eventually settled in Paris, where he became part of a colony of Catalan and Spanish artists and intellectuals. Here he developed a style that evolved from initial Modernism to Decorativism in the second decade of the 20th century, and was characterised especially for the treatment and pre-eminence of colour.
The museum that will display Pichot’s work is another architectural winner: Located in the city’s ‘green lung’ (Montjuïc), the MNAC sits at the top of a towering stone staircase flanked by elaborate fountains and is crowned by a great dome inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica. The roof terrace also boasts 360 degree views over the park and the city.
MNAC. Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc. Until January 21st, 2018