Barcelona's Pioneers of Modern Art

Barcelona's Pioneers of Modern Art

Aug 02, 2019

Barcelona is known worldwide for its uniqueness and warmth and also for its daring Modernism (Modernisme in Catalan), a cultural movement that began with the desire to modernize the city and expanded into the breathtaking Architecture and Art that turned Barcelona into an exploration ground for the pioneers of Modernism. If you plan on visiting the city, I highly recommend taking the unique opportunity to explore its Art. Let's discover the Artists that powerfully influenced Catalan culture.


Pablo Picasso

The most influential Painters of the 2oth century, Pablo Picasso made his contribution to the Art world not only by bringing to live amazing art pieces full of symbolism and surrealism but by pioneering Cubism (much like Georges Braque). The artist's deep Love for Barcelona shows in his artwork as most of his formative years sketches, drawings and art pieces which can be admired at the Picasso Museum are all inspired by the city. His charismatic personality left an imprint on the bohemian Artists as well as on modern pop culture. He was an Artist that famously knew how to break the rules and inspire by being groundbreaking and moving away from the conventions. Pablo Picasso was the first artist to invent the collage as he considered that an image could contain not just one perspective but include many symbols and points of view that created messages. This is a part of what made him extremely influential, his ability to imbue his work with deep meaning and his love for life, peace and art was constantly present in his masterpieces. His studies of tribal art helped him create a painting that steered away from Renaissance three-dimensionality and that characterized the painted women in an abstract, geometrical way in Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907). The painting shocked the art world at the time because Picasso dared to revolutionize the concept of art and make bold choices, something he would continue to do for the rest of his life.



Joan Miró

Combining abstract art with surrealist fantasious details, Joan Mirò created powerfully evocative art that constantly presented a mix of realism and fantasy. Through his eyes you could see the regular in a poetic way and it was this quality that led the found of Surrealism, Andrè Breton, to purchase Mirò's The Hunter. Gaining acclaim through his unique artistic imprint, Mirò joined the Surrealism movement that aimed to liberate the mind from control. So much so that the painter himself declared that each painting began with unconscious motions, letting the art piece reveal itself and only during the second part would he then plan. His Art was, therefore, a blend of spontaneous and carefully calculated elements. During the 1920's Joan Mirò chose to experiment with different techniques and break every rule to enrich his perspective as an artist. He then went on to create painting-poetry, ceramics, illustrations as well as sculptures that made him world renowned. Visit the Joan Mirò Foundation to discover a new way of looking at reality.

Antoni Tàpies

This mysterious self taught painter considered his artwork a form of meditation, inspired by Zen Buddhism Tapies explored "the void" by creating elusive paintings. He believed Art had an alchemic quality and thus loved exploring materials he used in his works engaging the style known as matiérisme. Although inspired by Eastern philosophy, the symbolism in his artwork is enigmatic and his energy pervades his work. It is very fascinating to note that Tàpies wrote he believed in a primal matter that pervades everything and out of which everything is made of and went on to explore this in his artworks. You can explore his enigmatic art at the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA).

Salvador Dalí

Born in in Figueres, Spain in 1904 and was encouraged to study art at a young age. Despite having explored all types of art in his studies, Dalì became known for his signature dream like surrealist style. His most hypnotic painting is perhaps the The Persistence of Memory that features Surrealist warped clocks melting into scenery. Perhaps less noteable about him is the fact that much like Picasso (with whom he interacted with during his trips to Paris) the artist had a strong connection to Barcelona as his first exhibit was featured in the city and some of his works were inspired by it. His surrealistic approach was inspired by his interest in Sigmund Freud's work and led to collaborations in the world of cinema and most notably his art was featured in a dream sequence of Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945). The artwork was used as a clue that helped unravel the subconscious of Gregory Peck's character John Ballantine as Dr. Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) attempted to save him. Dali's "paranoiac-critical method" as he called it, was his contribution to the art world, he believed in accessing the subconscious mind to enhance creativity. He engaged this method by using the symbolism in his dreams and combining it with reality, resulting in surreal paintings that challenged reality into being whatever his mind could conceive. By doing this Dalì created a legacy that continues to inspire artist of all types as well as the world. To step into his incredible universe, visit the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres.


Given its rich heritage and the unique way through which the city differentiated itself through Modernism, experiencing Barcelona will surely enrich your perspective on life and perhaps even revolutionize the way you approach creativity.


Written by Anamaria Maier