Barcelona Art & Architecture | Barcelona City Guide
Antoni Gaudi is deeply associated with Barcelona's architectural landscape. Often considered the greatest exponent of Catalan Modernism, Gaudi was the mastermind behind the iconic Sagrada Familia and other famous structures in the city, including Park Guell, Casa Milo, Church of Colonia Guell and many others.
Antoni Tapies was a painter, sculptor and art theorist who was a founding member of the Spanish art movement Dau al Set. Tapies was best known for his textured paintings that incorporated marble dust and resin. A majority of Antoni Tapies' art was influenced by his experiences of the Spanish Civil War.
After spending his early years living in turmoil and turbulent times in the Catalan capital, Ramon Casas emerged to be one of the most influential artists of the Catalan Modernist movement. Born into a wealthy family in 1865, Casas trained in art from a young age and by the time he was in his early 20s, his work was on display in both Paris and Barcelona. Apart from portraits, Casas was famous for painting the social and economical changes he witnessed in Spain and Catalonia.
Barcelona’s Most Renowned Works of Art
The First Communion (1896) by Pablo Picasso
The First Communion holds the distinction of being the first professional painting ever completed by Pablo Picasso. Picasso created the painting under the encouragement of his father when he was still enrolled at a local art school in Barcelona. The painting showcases Picasso's sister at her first communion and the male figure is thought to have been modeled after their father.
Location: The Picasso Museum, Barcelona
Apse of Sant Climent de Taull (c. 1123) by the Master of Taull
One of the highlights of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) is the Apse of Sant Climent de Taull. The painting is believed to have been painted in the early 12th century by the Master of Taull, who was considered amongst the greatest mural painters of his time.
Rinzen (1993) by Antoni Tàpies
Rinzen, which means ‘sudden awakening’ in Japanese, is considered one of Antoni Tapies' most prominent works. The painting was created in 1993 for the Spanish Pavilion at the 45th Venice Biennale. According to art critics, the hospital bed in the painting is symbolic of the war in Bosnia, as well as a troubling memory from the Tapies' childhood.
Location: Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art
Science and Charity (1897) by Pablo Picasso
Painted when he was just 15 years old, Science and Charity is amongst the most representative artworks of Pablo Picasso’s growing up years. The masterpiece can be best described as a showcase of social realism, depicting a scene of everyday life and is a must visit when in Barcelona.
Location: The Picasso Museum, Barcelona |
The Caress of a Bird (1967) by Joan Miró
Commonly referred to under its French name La Caresse d’un Oiseau, The Caress of a Bird is a colorful part of the permanent collection of the Fundació Joan Miró located on Montjuïc Hill. Created by Miro in his home in Majorca, the statue can be found with others by the artist on the roof of the Fundació Joan Miró.
Woman and Bird (1982-83) by Joan Miró
Also known by its Catalan name ‘Dona i Ocell’, Woman and Birds by Joan Miró is a large-scale statue, part of a trilogy of public artwork commissioned by the council of Barcelona in the 1980s. Despite the seemingly phallic shape of the statue, the female form is represented by the large black hole that appears down the front of it.
Portrait of Elena and María (1863), by Joaquin Sorolla
Famous for his ability to showcase sun-soaked scenes of everyday life in Spain, the 20th century Valencian artist Joaquin Sorolla moved beyond his comfort zone to create stunning portraits of his daughters Maria and Elena. The painting features the two girls as they ride a horse in their native Valencia, wearing traditional jackets.
Las Meninas (1957) by Pablo Picasso
One of Picasso’s most thought provoking works, Las Meninas is a series of 58 paintings. A reinterpretation of the classic Spanish painter Diego Velázquez’s work of the same name, Las Meninas consists of 45 separate depictions of the original painting as well as several detail paintings – namely of the dove.
Location: The Picasso Museum, Barcelona
Museu Frederic Marès
Located inside a charming medieval palace next to the cathedral in the Barri Gòtic, the Frederic Mares museum is amongst the city's hidden gems. The museum houses many sculptures, painted or in plain wood, from the 12th and 13th centuries, retaining the Romanesque separation of the nailed feet.
Address: Plaça Sant Iu 5,
Ticket Prices: Adults €4.20
- Sunday: 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM; the museum remains open all day on the first Sunday of the month.
- Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
A posh gallery located along Consell de Cent, Galeria Artevista features many known artists selling expensive paintings. To enter the gallery, you must buzz and wait to be let in. The process might seem too formal and stuffy but the superb art on display is worth it. (Image Credits)
Address: Passatge del Crèdit 4
- Monday: 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM
- Tuesday to Sunday: 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Taller Creativo Bencini
Located behind Santa Caterina Market, this gallery/workshop is worth a visit just for its postmodern architectural design and vividly multicolored roof. Featuring art from Federico Bencini and Raul Pernia, Taller Creativo Bencini is a must visit when in Barcelona. (Image Credits)
Address: Carrer Semoleres 10
Timings: Open daily from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Carrer Enric Granados
A beautiful, tree-lined pedestrian street in the Eixample, sloping gently upward to Avinguda Diagonal, Carrer Enric Granados is another artistic delight in Barcelona. Packed with hip outdoor cafés, restaurants and famous art galleries, such as N2 Galería, ADN Galería and Ego Gallery, this is the ideal place to stroll for art and maybe even attend an opening on a Thursday night. (Image Credits)
Barcelona’s 5 Most Iconic Monuments
Despite having been in construction since 1882, the Sagrada Familia is Antoni Gaudi’s most famous work to date. The under construction church is open for public viewing and attracts thousands of visitors each day. The grand church is visible from just about every part of Barcelona and a tour of the basilica is both fascinating and educational.
Address: Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
Arco de Triunfo
A triumphal arch in Barcelona, the Arc de Triomphe was built by architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas as the main access gate for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair. Now, the arch is regularly used for city events including marathons and music festivals. The arch is also famous for being the walkway for Primavera Sound annually.
Address: Passeig de Lluís Companys, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Park Güell, another architectural blessing from Antoni Gaudi, is the city's most popular park. The park, built between 1900 and 1914, boasts a labyrinth of architectural marvels that can be explored over a day. Park Guell is also home to Gaudi’s house museum where he used to live.
Address: 08024 Barcelona, Spain
Designed by Antoni Gaudi and considered one of his masterpieces, Casa Batlló is a building in the center of Barcelona. Different from any other building in the city, Casa Batllo embodies a level of whimsey and playfulness that sets it apart. Every unusual curve and curated piece of glass will take you to a world of fairytales!
Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 43, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
A 60 meters tall monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus, the Columbus Monument is another Barcelona highlight. Constructed for the Exposición Universal de Barcelona in honor of Columbus' first voyage to the Americas, the monument is equipped with an elevator that will take you to the top of the monument for spectacular views of the city.
Address: Plaça Portal de la pau, s/n, 08001 Barcelona, Spain