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Day 3: Barcelona
It is a joy to be close enough to walk and to prepare our own low carb breakfast: spinach, tomatoes and egg.
We head out along a series of tall streets to the edge of the park around Montjuic.
Museu National d’Art de Catalunya
Arriving soon after opening whilst there are a reasonable number of people outside taking shots of the view and selfies, there are few people inside. Skipping the 13th to 15th century church art entirely we opt to jump any chronology and go straight to the modern art.
For the first hour it feels like we are VIPs on a private viewing. This is ended by couple like us, the difference being the constant desire to be photographed in front of their favourite pieces.
Sculptures by Enrico Claraso
We marvel at sculptures where stone has the texture of skin and the muscles and skeleton are so apparent beneath the surface.
Other sculptures that caught my eye were Little Gypsy Girl by Joan Rebull and a cheeky bust of Picaso by Pablo Gargallo.
End-of-century styles thought of as too decorative, and lacking form and structure resulted in a return to classicism. At the same time urbanism and industrialism brought brutally realised in the First World War and resulting in experimentation and collage saw another shift with a return to traditional craft skills.
Too many people for my liking posed for selfies or posed in front of works. Am I being a hyporcrite? We took plenty of photos ourselves. It is permitted but perhaps people should be encouraged to turn off the shutter sound on their phones.
A game we played in the evening, as we meandered around the exhibitions, sometimes together, sometimes apart, was to play ‘snap’ with images we had both been drawn towards. This was one of them. It looks like Joan Miro. It is the same period. 1937.
I realise I am drawn to a common palette. Such as these:
We were on our way out. Two hours in one place appears to be enough for us. When we saw there was a temporary exhibition on a Spanish photographer.
The photo journalism shot of a model, legs akimbo, all 1960s reminded me of . What we got was a much more, a mixture of Don Mcullin and David Bailey with the humour of David Hockney thrown in.
Oriol Maspons. Contests in the 1950s. Against award seeking behaviour. Paris and the Club des 30 x 40. He also had to leave his job with an insurance company. The fifties saw Maspons’s developing interest in realistic and utilitarian photography. The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya conserves over 6,500 photographs of Oriol Maspons, of which 503 are on display in this exhibition. Mostly original prints.
I was immediately struck by the quality of his compositions, the way he guides the eye to a specific part of the frame, also his wit and ability to observe and captures what matters in the moment whether a model, cattle, nuns, soldiers, or a family at a funeral.
His life was reproduced as a timeline.
Outside was bright and humid. We took a slight detour to walk across the park. On a less grand scale the water cascade reminded me of Alnwick Castle gardens some 1100 miles north of here.
Fundacio Joan Miro
Having visited at length six years ago I rather felt that I was seeing it all exactly as before, this time with the bustle of a busy August crowd. There are the Garden and terrace sculptures, the Mercury cascade and its bobbing movement, the eclectic Rope tapestry with beach bits and other collages and constructions. We were flagging from our morning’s exhibitions. We avoided the bright primary colour sculptures and prints. Maybe this is what you do on repeat visits, you start to look at the niche exhibits and to feed a curiosity for the particular, rather than trying to take it all in.
I spent longer in the underground cave with its rough earth and rock strewn ground and a mechanical seesaw sculpture and these tiny rods with flower like stems – which I have only figured out days later in close up.
When I was here last we walked off the hill to the nearest metro. That was six years ago. They have built a hillside funiciar which connnects with the Metro system. We opted for this rather than my prefered ride in a cable car down to the marina.
We had a series of long trecks courtesy of closed stations and lines, or simply getting fed up of being underground when on the surface you discover, rather as in London, that things are not that far apart on foot -0 necessarily.
We eventually made it to the seafront but disorientated by Google Maps we walked in the wrong direction for a while. We worried about not getting to our next vegetarian restaurant before it closed.
Pad Thai sweet potato rice noodles
Museu de Disseny de Barcelona
The Best of 2019 was a Design & Art Direction exhibition of the top three in a multitude of categories. The inventiveness of these always fascinates me, from a Nigerian school design to encourage a draft through the building as an inexpensive solution to the heat, a temporary event display made from paper and light to look like an a lava flow and knitted fashion styled around New Guinea tribal costumes and customs.
Intriguing practical designs from tongs to pick up ice-cubes to the usual variation on a chair, bicycle or cabinet.
History of female fashion 1550 to 2015
Used to the V&A, Museum of London and others, it was a pleasure to have a different take on the development of fashion of the centuries with a very clever use of mannequins with articulated sections that could be expended, extended or stretched to show how the female silhouette has changed.
There were entire floors also dedicated to ceramics and print publishing design.
Pea, coconut and mint gaspacho
Sweet potato taliatelli, cabbage, macadamia nuts and pine nuts
Goats cheese foam
Pizza cauliflower and chestnuts
Coconut yoghurt and mixed berries and dragon fruit
And home to our Air BnB apartment.
It’s only two flights up to our apartment, but the steps are narrow and steep. After a long day on our feet, walking between exhibitions and eateries (between 15-20km) this final stretch is a push.
Fig.1 Exhibit A. Vital to any museum. A place to crash, reflect, nod off … then pick yourself up to do some more.
This is going to read like an excuse to visit yet more museums.
As I reach the end of my Open University learning journey my final task is to write an EMA in which I propose a piece of research on e-learning. My inclination, with 12 days to go, is to look at the use of mobile devices in museums and how the visit experience can be enhanced by personalising the physical journey. It appears the the two problems to deal with are information overload and cognitive overload. There is too much of everything. Whilst I will always applaud serendipity there needs to be a balance between the stuff that you want to stick and the stuff that can be ignored or discarded.
Too many museum visits earlier this week has me wishing I had electric wheels and a pair of Google Glass that could take it in and edit.
- Museum of Contemporary Art – Barcelona
- Picasso Museum – Barcelona
- National Museum of Catalonia – Barcelona
- Joan Miro Foundation – Barcelona
As I prepare this assignment I plant to queue to get into the Bowie at V&A and try Google WebLab at the Science Museum and possibly the RA and Design Museums too. At least I’m within an hour of London.
My interest is, as I take teenagers to these things, to wish I could get them to that artefact or story about the artifacts creations, or the artist/creative that it will so intrigue them that they are inspired to put some heart into their art or DT.
Two years ago my late mother took her granddaughters around the RA when the Van Gogh exhibition was on. My daughter was treated to my mother, gentle and informed, guiding her then 14 year old granddaughter from quite specific letters, paintings and sketches – pointing things out, talking about technique and the thinking behind it. This was as personalised and as intimate as it gets.
I can understand how Picasso, showing interest and talent, must have been guided by his father who taught art at undergraduate level.