Barcelona – Home to Great Artists Through History

Barcelona is well known for its incredible architecture, with such modernist masterpieces as the Sagrada Familia and the Casa Battlo. However, that’s not the end of the story. Some of the world’s great artists have come from the city or made their home there, and the wonderful museums of Barcelona display their work with pride. Studying abroad in Barcelona will be a treat for any art or design student seeking inspiration.

Joan Miró

Joan Miró i Ferrà was born in the Barri Gòtic area of Barcelona in 1893 and studied at the Llotja School of Fine Arts. The Fundacio Joan Miró was opened in his honour in 1975. His work has been described as being Surrealist and he was certainly inspired by the Cubist and Surrealist exhibitions that visited the city. Although he moved to Paris in 1920, he continued to spend summers in Catalonia. Some of his paintings featured his parents’ farm in Mont-Roig, including The Farm, which was bought by Ernest Hemingway, and the Tilled Field, which was one of the first of his works to be classified as Surrealist. The Fundacio Joan Miró holds an extensive collection of his work including 225 paintings, 150 sculptures and all of his graphic work. Examples of his work range from his Cubist period with Street in Pedralbe to the Surrealist sculptures and paintings.

Unlike Miró, Picasso wasn’t born in Barcelona, but he arrived in the city with his family in 1895. However, like Miró he also studied at the Llotja School of Fine Arts. The Museo Picasso is situated in the Barri Gotic part of the city where Picasso lived and played. His family lived in various apartments in the area, including 4 Passeig Isabel II where the restaurant Set Portes is now located. He had his first studio at 4 Carrer de la Plata and his final studio in Barcelona was at 28 Carrer de ComerÒ, which he used until he left for Paris in 1904.

Even after he left the city he often returned and in 1960 it was his wish that a museum should be created there – it opened in 1963 at 15 Carrer de Montcada. The collection opened with work owned by his friend and personal secretary Jaume Sabartes, and incorporated work that was already exhibited by other Barcelona museums. This work included Harlequin and the Plandiura Collection. The museum has continued to add to the collection of Picasso’s work and includes great examples, including his Portrait of Jaume Sabartes with Ruff and Cap, and earlier work such as his 1896 painting Mountain Landscape. Along with the paintings there is an extensive collection of drawings. The museum is a wonderful place to visit for students studying abroad, with its calm and peaceful setting within the wall of these ancient nobles’ palaces.

Wandering the streets of the Barri Gotic it is easy to imagine the young Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso themselves strolling the labyrinth of narrow streets. These artists were inspired and nurtured within this wonderful city and that surely must serve as inspiration for art students studying abroad.