The capital A’s sharp lines erupt from the vegetation like a futurist manifesto

Walk through a poem in Horta

Poetry, theatre, prose, sculptural works and even experimental film: his output was prodigious in all these media yet Joan Brossa described himself solely as a poet, and he is remembered as one of Catalonia’s greatest. So to understand Brossa’s sculptural installation, his visual poetry as he called it, you need to understand a little of the man.

Set among olives, cypresses and carobs, this Mediterranean poem in three tenses visually conjures a Greco-Roman past

Set among olives, cypresses and carobs, this Mediterranean poem in three tenses visually conjures a Greco-Roman past

As a child and adolescent, though unable to apply himself at the several schools his parents enrolled him in, he was an avid reader at home. His other lifelong passion was magic, and he would visit Barcelona’s first magic shop, El Rei de la Magia – one of the city’s oldest businesses – which still operates today at C. de la Princesa, 11. It’s well worth a visit if prestidigitation is your thing.

During the Civil War, he gave free magic performances at different centres of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) until he was called up to serve on the Lleida front in 1938. A few short months later, he was wounded in the eye at the Battle of the Segre, and invalided out of action.

In the late 40s, in a country still devastated by the Spanish Civil War, Brossa burgeoned as a poet. He was able to do so thanks to the tutelage of J. V. Foix, a brilliant noucentista poet, and by joining a clandestine study group, where he learned Catalan, which had been outlawed by Franco’s dictatorship.

The capital A’s sharp lines erupt from the vegetation like a futurist manifesto

The capital A’s sharp lines erupt from the vegetation like a futurist manifesto

As a founder of the Dau al Set (seven-spotted die), an artist group and magazine which included Catalan artists such as Antoni Tàpies, Modest Cuixart and Joan Ponç, Brossa penned their revolutionary manifesto, “La presència forta” (The Strong Presence), a quasi-futurist attack on the rigid retrograde values of Francoism that controlled post-war society. The Dadaist-inspired work they produced showed the influence of experimentation with surrealism and existentialism, and later, the political awareness of Marxism.

Brossa’s sculptural and urban installations owe as much to his passion for magic as to his growing experimentation with conceptual art. The playful idea of a magic trick predominates in his Accessible Visual Poem in Three Tenses: birth, journey – with pauses and intonations – and destruction. It is a journey on which you are invited to embark.

Punctuation symbols – “with pauses and intonations” – lead viewers on a journey, representing life’s many joys and tempests

Punctuation symbols – “with pauses and intonations” – lead viewers on a journey, representing life’s many joys and tempests

Joan Brossa was given this commission by his friend Esteve Bonell, one of the architects who designed the Horta velodrome. The poet conceived one of his visual poems for the adjacent park. The installation is meant to be experienced in three separate tenses: from the capital letter A, which forms an entrance arch sixteen metres high – on the crown of the hill to emphasise its stature – to the ruins of a similar letter, symbolising destruction, decline and of course, death. Along the way, a journey of punctuation symbols – exclamation, quote and question marks, colons and brackets – scattered across the grass represent the many ups and downs of life’s adventures. Brossa originally wanted swings instead of benches in the park, to accompany the Mediterranean vegetation – olives, cypresses and carobs – but a fear of vandalism foiled that idea.

Among other of his works scattered around Barcelona, you can see his Poema visual Bàrcino (Visual Poem Bàrcino, 1994) next to the Cathedral, Lletres Gimnastes (Gymnastic Letters, 1997) in carrer Rauric, and A–Z amb figures antropomòrfiques (A–Z with Anthropomorphic Figures) in the gardens named after the poet, up on Montjuïc Mountain.

Brossa’s sculptural and urban installations owe as much to his passion for the playfulness of magic as to his growing experimentation with conceptual art

Brossa’s sculptural and urban installations owe as much to his passion for the playfulness of magic as to his growing experimentation with conceptual art

Poema visual transitable en tres temps: naixement, camí – amb pauses i entonacions – i destrucció (Accessible Visual Poem in Three Tenses: birth, journey – with pauses and intonations – and destruction). Sculptor: Joan Brossa. 1984. Jardins de Marià Cañardo (Horta Velodrome) Coordinates: 41.437235, 2.148552
Other Joan Brossa work:
Poema visual Bàrcino (Visual Poem Bàrcino, 1994). Plaça Nova. Coordinates: 41.384167, 2.175000.
Lletres Gimnastes (Gymnastic Letters, 1997). C. Rauric, 6. Coordinates: 41.381392, 2.174852
A-Z amb figures antropomòrfiques (A-Z with Anthropomorphic Figures). Jardins de Joan Brossa, Montjuïc Mountain. Coordinates: 41.368117, 2.166818

The ruins of the once-majestic capital A symbolise destruction, decline and of course, death

The ruins of the once-majestic capital A symbolise destruction, decline and of course, death

References:

http://www.escriptors.cat/autors/brossaj/pagina.php?id_sec=3042

http://www.fundaciojoanbrossa.cat/

Actualitat literària sobre la revista Dau al Set a LletrA, la literatura catalana a internet (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)

http://www.fundaciojvfoix.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Arthur-Terry_Readings.pdf

Sited on the crown of the hill to emphasise its height, the capital letter A is the first hint you have that a Brossa work inhabits the vicinity

Sited on the crown of the hill to emphasise its height, the capital letter A is the first hint you have that a Brossa work inhabits the vicinity

Get the guide BCN Free Art 01: The Port and Barceloneta! Go to www.poblesecbooks.com to purchase a print copy.

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With its whimsically comic air, Gambrinus brings a sense of fun to the Moll de la Fusta

Dancing Prawn

Many’s the town that cheerfully flaunts some huge and dreadful object on its loftiest hilltop. Made of concrete or fibreglass, the monstrosity strives to fulfil its illusory destiny as a cultural icon. So Goulburn, Australia, brims with pride over a fifteen-metre-high Merino sheep, an outsize barrel takes pride of place in Okinawa, Japan, while Flanders, New York, sports a giant cement duck. Whether or not they were despised for blighting the landscape at the time of installation, they generally end up being accepted by the locals, even occupying a warm fuzzy spot in the town’s heart.

With its whimsically comic air, Gambrinus brings a sense of fun to the Moll de la Fusta

With its whimsically comic air, Gambrinus brings a sense of fun to the Moll de la Fusta

Of such species, I would argue that Barcelona’s denizen is one of the least offensive you’ll find—positively charming, in fact. The city’s giant prawn (la Gamba: though technically it doesn’t count as a prawn – unless you’re in Dublin Bay, when it does – but an escamarlà or langoustine, which itself is not to be confused with the Spanish langostino, as that is an entirely separate controversy) is affectionately known as “Gambrinus” after the restaurant it was designed to crown. It is by the Catalan designer and artist, Xavier Mariscal, and has a whimsically comical air that makes it the perfect seafront companion to Lichtenstein’s cartoonish Barcelona’s Head alongside.

Gambrinus’s sculptural volumes and bronzed patina reflect the lilac and indigo light of a Mediterranean evening beautifully

Gambrinus’s sculptural volumes and bronzed patina reflect the lilac and indigo light of a Mediterranean evening beautifully

Mariscal is the artist who arguably put Barcelona on the international design circuit (well, discounting a certain German who designed a chair) as the creator of its famous Olympic mascot, Kobi. So he surely deserves a decent spot on Barcelona’s primera línea del mar.

Though inaugurated in 1989, the restaurant Gambrinus barely outlived closure of the Olympic Games. Following this, the giant prawn was dragged wearily through the courts regarding the question of ownership, which was finally decided in favour of Barcelona City Council. Restored to its original position in 2004, Gambrinus (the name originally belongs to a northern-European folk figure who was falsely attributed with having invented beer) has now become a popular and fitting symbol for the city where seafood paella is a common staple.

Gambrinus, technically not a prawn at all but an escamarlà or langoustine

Gambrinus, technically not a prawn at all but an escamarlà or langoustine

The Vila Olímpica (Olympic Village) hosts other of Mariscal’s sculptures, such as Cobi, the 1992 Olympic mascot, a Cubist-inspired depiction of a Catalan sheepdog, whose name derives from the acronym for the Barcelona Olympic Organising Committee (COOB). For those who know where to look, this Olympic mascot also hides in the white trencadís of one of the chimneys on Palau Güell, in carrer Nou de la Rambla. This building, built 1886–1890, was partially restored in 1992, the year of Barcelona’s Olympic Games, when an anonymous restorer decided to encipher the year of restoration into their work.

The series of restaurants sited along Moll de la Fusta for which Gambrinus was conceived folded shortly after the Olympic Games, and the esplanade was remodelled

The series of restaurants sited along Moll de la Fusta for which Gambrinus was conceived folded shortly after the Olympic Games, and the esplanade was remodelled

La Gamba (Gambrinus) by Javier Mariscal, 1989. Passeig de Colom, 7. Coordinates: 41.380148, 2.181716.

Cobi, 1992. Parc del Port Olimpic, s/n. Coordinates: 41.389276, 2.198678.

References:

http://www.mariscal.com

http://www.lavanguardia.com/local/barcelona/20150318/54428229882/cobi-gaudi.html

 

Get the guide BCN Free Art 01: The Port and Barceloneta! Go to www.poblesecbooks.com to purchase a print copy.

Impressions in a concrete garden

The Jardins de les Tres Xemeneies form an outdoor gallery, a constantly changing urban art space

The Jardins de les Tres Xemeneies form an outdoor gallery, a constantly changing urban art space

You have to take the term “gardens” in its official name with a pinch of salt when you first see the concrete flatness of this Barcelona park, though the free art on its walls changes as regularly as any city gallery, making it a worthwhile stop on your route. An ex-industrial site, the shimmering haze of its birches nevertheless perfectly counterpoints the aesthetic of heavy machinery and bright graffiti.

Moscrop and his mates Eli, Nesbit and Si (Lag) had come down from Newcastle (UK) to create free art in Barcelona

Moscrop and his mates Eli, Nesbit and Si (Lag) had come down from Newcastle (UK) to create free art in Barcelona

Such a hardwearing urban veneer makes it ideal not just as a regular concert venue but also for the skateboarding and tagging communities, both local and out-of-town. While taking photos here, the four artists who I found working on the mural walls had come down from Newcastle, UK. Moscrop had been here the summer before and returned with his mates Eli, Nesbit and Si (Lag) this year. Was this the modern equivalent of the way, a century ago, northern impressionists would come down on painting holidays, drawn by Spain’s exceptional light? The hardness in the light does seem to bring out the brilliance in colours.

The heavy machinery parts and chimneys are what remain of the Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company Ltd. Yes, the name was in English

The heavy machinery parts and chimneys are what remain of the Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company Ltd. Yes, the name was in English

It’s also a popular skateboarding site. A German friend, while holidaying in Barcelona with her teenage son last year, would drop him off at this park every day so she wouldn’t have to drag a sullen adolescent around the galleries and sights she was keen to see. It was an arrangement that worked for them both.

The three chimneys are from the power plant known as La Canadenca (The Canadian), despite the fact that its founder, Pearson, was born in Massachusetts and its capital was Belgian

The three chimneys are from the power plant known as La Canadenca (The Canadian), despite the fact that its founder, Pearson, was born in Massachusetts and its capital was Belgian

The three chimneys dominate the space. They are what remains of a power generation plant that used to be known as La Canadenca (The Canadian) despite being founded by an American. When electrical power was in its infancy at the turn of the twentieth century, it seemed like too risky a venture to attract many conservative Catalan investors.

The graffiti varies from the innocuous to wanting to convey a political message

The graffiti varies from the innocuous to wanting to convey a political message

So an American entrepreneur named Frederick Stark Pearson was persuaded to set up the Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company Limited in 1911. The parent company then spawned a host of subsidiaries to develop the trams, rail network, two large dams and a canal system, power generation and water supply in Barcelona. By 1914 it was the largest electricity supplier in Europe and the seventh-largest in the world. The company was at the centre of a strike in 1919 that developed into a Catalonia-wide general strike, which the workers of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT union eventually won.

Graffiti, one of the oldest art forms, can be a unique expression of contemporary culture

Graffiti, one of the oldest art forms, can be a unique expression of contemporary culture

Pearson himself perished when the RMS Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk in 1915. After the Spanish Civil War, the company continued to expand for a short time under Franco, but his decree, prohibiting the exit of capital from Spain meant its foreign shareholders could not be paid and proved the company’s death knell.

Spain’s hard light emphasises the graffiti’s chromatic brilliance

Spain’s hard light emphasises the graffiti’s chromatic brilliance

You can see more Barcelona street art at bombcelona (in Spanish).

The site is popular with skateboarding and tagging communities, both local and out-of-town

The site is popular with skateboarding and tagging communities, both local and out-of-town

Jardins de les Tres Xemeneies, Av. de Paral·lel, 49

 

Get the guide BCN Free Art 01: The Port and Barceloneta! Go to www.poblesecbooks.com to purchase a print copy.

Where the sky has fallen

 

Cel caigut (Fallen Sky, 1988), one of Beverly Pepper's Earthbound Sculptures: "seemingly born in or rising up from the earth"

Cel caigut (Fallen Sky, 1988), one of Beverly Pepper’s Earthbound Sculptures: “seemingly born in or rising up from the earth”

Sol i ombra (Sun and Shade, 1988) is the name covering two works by the north-American artist Beverly Pepper (b. 1922). Cel Caigut (Fallen Sky) and Espiral arbrada (Planted Spiral) transform the Parc de l’Estació del Nord into a unique landscaped environment. This installation is a rare Barcelona example of “land art”—a concept originating in the late sixties in reaction to the rampant commercialism of the art world.

Ceramic curves embedded within the grass seem to entrap the sky

Ceramic curves embedded within the grass seem to entrap the sky

Pepper has said of her work:

“In the seventies I developed the concept of ‘Earthbound Sculptures’, that is, sculptures seemingly born in or rising up from the earth.”

Cel Caigut is the most immediately visually impressive of the two pieces, the first work you’ll come across (unless entering from the direction of c. Marina). It is essentially a huge earthworks clad in ceramic tile—a homage to Gaudi’s trencadís style—that transforms the landscape. This is a total environment, one that invites locals to use and clamber over its forms, arranged like a benevolent sleeping dragon.

Cel caigut resembles a benevolent sleeping dragon—a prominent symbol in Catalan art since St George is Catalonia's patron saint

Cel caigut resembles a benevolent sleeping dragon—a prominent symbol in Catalan art since St George is Catalonia’s patron saint

 

The sweeping ceramic curves embedded within the grass achieve a rare harmony with the Mediterranean architecture of the adjacent Estació del Nord building.

Sweeping ceramic curves complement the Mediterranean architecture

Sweeping ceramic curves complement the Mediterranean architecture

In contrast, Espiral arbrada, a more discreet installation towards the rear of the park, nevertheless references and works in tandem with its more extrovert partner. If Cel caigut is sun, Espiral arbrada communicates the idea of shade. This wide ceramic spiral, planted with linden trees, creates an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity that is far removed from the city’s bustle. The space breathes a mystical and invigorating stillness, which the iron totems spaced throughout the park seem to reinforce.

Beverly Pepper's Espiral arbrada (Planted Spiral, 1988) breathes a mystical and invigorating stillness

Beverly Pepper’s Espiral arbrada (Planted Spiral, 1988) breathes a mystical and invigorating stillness

What takes this installation beyond the mere idea of sculptures in a park is that all the vegetation and even the shaping of the earth have been chosen to accentuate the sculpture.

The sculpture and shaping of the earth are one

The sculpture and shaping of the earth are one

The vegetation has been selected to accentuate the sculpture

The vegetation has been selected to accentuate the sculpture

So the species of trees, such as umbrella pines and black poplars flanking Cel caigut, linden trees on the Espiral arbrada, but also white and Canadian poplars, are all there to accompany the sculpture, not the reverse. Even the park’s modular, semi-circular concrete benches contribute to the plastic experience.

A huge earthworks clad in ceramic tile—a homage to Gaudi’s trencadís style—transforms the landscape.

A huge earthworks clad in ceramic tile—a homage to Gaudi’s trencadís style—transforms the landscape.

Pepper claims that her work “offers a place for reflection and contemplative thought within the context of active urban environments”. It is one of my favourite parks in Barcelona.

Cel Caigut (Fallen Sky) and Espiral arbrada (Planted Spiral) are a rare Barcelona example of “land art”—a concept originating in the late sixties in reaction to the rampant commercialism of the art world

Land art is a concept originating in the late sixties in reaction to the rampant commercialism of the art world

Sol i ombra: Cel Caigut and Espiral arbrada (1988) by Beverly Pepper at the Parc de l’Estació del Nord, c. Nàpols, 42.

 

Get the guide BCN Free Art 01: The Port and Barceloneta! Go to www.poblesecbooks.com to purchase a print copy.

A monument to Catalan independence

Francesc Macià was known as l'avi (the grandfather) of Catalonia

Francesc Macià was known as l’avi (the grandfather) of Catalonia

If you’re following a route down the Rambles in search of free art in Barcelona, pause at Plaça Catalunya for Josep Maria Subirachs’ 1991 Monument to Francesc Macià, which shows the harmonious marriage between a contemporary piece and another artist’s much earlier work.

The Goddess by Josep Clarà i Ayat links Subirachs’ piece to the collection of sculptures you can see installed around Plaça Catalunya

The Goddess by Josep Clarà i Ayat links Subirachs’ piece to the collection of earlier sculptures you can see installed around Plaça Catalunya

The installation acknowledges Josep Clarà i Ayat’s La Diosa (The Goddess) while allowing the earlier work to inhabit its own setting on the ornamental pond. The Goddess links Subirachs’ piece to the collection of sculptures you can see installed around Plaça Catalunya, created for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. She is, nevertheless, a copy since the original was removed to the foyer of the Barcelona City Hall for safekeeping in 1982.

Subirachs—the artist responsible for the Passion façade on the Temple of the Sagrada Família, the culmination of his artistic career—strove in this commission to pay homage to Catalan president Francesc Macià (1859–1933) and Catalonia. Of travertine marble, concrete, iron and bronze, the solid concrete bastion represents Catalonia’s history while the upside-down staircase symbolises the step-by-step construction of the country’s future.

The upside-down staircase symbolises the step-by-step construction of Catalonia’s future

The upside-down staircase symbolises the step-by-step construction of Catalonia’s future

The bust is of Macià himself, a politician and soldier who had been exiled for his involvement in a military campaign to liberate Catalonia from the Spanish dictator Primo de Rivera in 1926. A founding member of the political party ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia, the same that is currently prominent in the campaign for Catalan independence), Macià was president of the Government of Catalonia from 1931 to 1933. Shortly after election, this politician they called “the grandfather” declared a Catalan Republic as “a state of the Iberian Federation”, just a few hours before the Second Spanish Republic was born. However, the initiative was quickly quashed by Madrid and subsequent negotiations led to the compromise of an autonomous region within Spain that was given the historical name of the Generalitat. Macià died in 1933.

Josep Clarà i Ayat’s La Diosa (The Goddess) inhabits its own setting on the ornamental pond

Josep Clarà i Ayat’s La Diosa (The Goddess) inhabits its own setting on the ornamental pond

Continue on down the Rambles for architectural Modernista gems such as the Casa Bruno Cuadros (otherwise known as the “umbrella house”) and Gaudí’s Palau Güell. Otherwise, make a pit stop at nearby Els Quatre Gats, an initiative which the Catalan artists Ramon Casas and Santiago Rusiñol helped found. This restaurant was frequented by many other artists, including Picasso, who held his first exhibition there.

Monument to Francesc Macià (1991) by Josep Maria Subirachs and La Diosa (The Goddess, 1929) by Josep Clarà i Ayat. Plaça Catalunya (at the top of les Rambles).

 

Get the guide BCN Free Art 01: The Port and Barceloneta! Go to www.poblesecbooks.com to purchase a print copy.

Casaramona: Art Nouveau’s triumphant functionality

 

IMG_20140720_184216_w

Home to one of Barcelona’s most innovative museums, Caixaforum, Casaramona is art in its own right: an architectural gem of Modernisme, which no guide to the city should leave out.
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Urban Configurations and the Olympic legacy

Configuraciones urbanes (Urban Configurations) was a project that aimed to form a chain between two historically linked Barcelona neighbourhoods—la Ribera and Barceloneta

Though the Olympics are the world’s foremost sporting event, Barcelona ’92 did as much for the city’s public art as for its sports facilities. Massive investments transformed the urban landscape almost beyond recognition. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the demolition of the Somorostro neighbourhood and on the Barceloneta shoreline. Yet out of this upheaval came exciting projects such as Configuraciones urbanes (Urban Configurations), a project which aimed to form a chain between two historically linked Barcelona neighbourhoods—la Ribera and Barceloneta.

This historical association was forged in 1714, on the occasion of Catalonia’s defeat in the War of the Spanish Succession. After his victory over the Catalan, British and other forces, Philip V of Spain ordered the neighbourhood of la Ribera to be partially razed to make way for construction of the Ciutadella—a fortress designed (like Montjuïc fortress) not to protect citizens from outside danger but to suppress further civil insurrection. It took a couple of years before the ousted former residents of La Ribera were assigned plots of land on Barceloneta sand spit, where a fishing village had been haphazardly growing since the Renaissance. Over the ensuing years a shanty town developed. Then, in 1753, a rational new street plan was implemented, based on the plans of Joris Prosper van Verboom – the Flemish military engineer who was primarily responsible for Barcelona’s fall in 1714. Housing priority was given to residents engaged in activities connected to the sea.

The Ciutadella and Montjuïc fortresses were built not so much to protect citizens from outside danger as to suppress further civic insurrection. Source: Arxiu Històric de la Ciutat de Barcelona

The Ciutadella and Montjuïc fortresses were built not so much to protect citizens from outside danger as to suppress further civil insurrection.  Source: Arxiu Històric de la Ciutat de Barcelona

 

Over two hundred years later, in the lead-up to the 1992 Barcelona summer Olympics, the Somorostro neighbourhood and the Poble Nou and Barceloneta seafront were redesigned to open up the shoreline to the city and remodel Barcelona’s neglected port and beaches.

Urban Configurations, a permanent, open-air collection of eight works, conceived by Barcelona curator Gloria Moure, was inaugurated just days before the Olympics. This show sought to combine foreign, Spanish and Catalan artists while bequeathing works to the city that would epitomise creative tension, art that was accessible to its public, in harmony with its physical and human environment and engaged in a dialogue with the space in which it was installed. The results are one indoor and seven outdoor sculptural installations, by one Catalan, one Spanish and six international artists.

Heading from carrer Comerç down towards the beach, these works are:

i. Deuce Coop, James Turrell. This US artist’s neon installation in an eighteenth-century building—now a civic centre—revitalises and accentuates the old architecture. It contains an iconic Turell reference in the oculus and use of light. Its lustrous tranquillity encourages the viewer to take ample time to appreciate the installation fully at a meditative pace. Installed in the Civic Centre, the installation is only available during opening times and activated by a sensor that turns it on after dusk: around 6 pm in winter and 9 pm in summer.

Deuce Coop, James Turrell, 1992. Centre Civic Convent de Sant Agustí, c. Comerç, 36, la Ribera. Opening hours (after dusk): Mon to Fri, until 10 pm; Saturdays, until 9 pm. Coordinates: 41.387659, 2.181615

James Turrell’s neon installation in an eighteenth-century building revitalises and accentuates the old architecture. Consisting of several scattered iron forms, Jaume Plensa's work references the Born’s history as a key scenario in the 1714 siege of Barcelona

James Turrell’s neon installation in an eighteenth-century building revitalises and accentuates the old architecture. Consisting of several scattered iron forms, Jaume Plensa’s work references the Born’s history as a key scenario in the 1714 siege of Barcelona

ii. Born, Jaume Plensa. Consisting of several scattered iron forms—a large coffer and spheres evocative of cannonballs—this work focuses attention on the urban landscape of the tree-lined avenue, evoking the form of a ship. Yet it also references the Born’s history as a Medieval jousting yard, the site of the main wholesale market and as a key scenario in the 1714 siege when the city fell. Under the defunct market structure at the avenue’s end—a sublime example of late nineteenth-century ironwork—archaeological excavations have revealed the original neighbourhood of 1714–15. The site has been turned into a permanent exhibition, and this is one of those times when paying a few euros’ entrance fee is worth it.

Born, Jaume Plensa, 1992. Passeig del Born/volta d’en Dusai, Born. Coordinates: 41.384281, 2.182506

iii. Sense títol (quatre falques) / Untitled (Four Wedges), Ulrich Rückriem.

This Düsseldorf artist, trained as a stone mason, installed four massive pieces of granite in the Pla del Palau, distributed in two pairs, which face the traffic like spectators. While much of his work conjures dramatic geological splendour, here the location is poor, causing many people to pass them by unseeing, as oblivious as to any other piece of urban furniture. It is a shame as the works deserve more attention.

Sense títol (quatre falques) / Untitled (Four Wedges), Ulrich Rückriem, 1992. Pla de Palau. Coordinates: 41.382538, 2.183644.

Rückriem’s installation conjures dramatic geological splendour while, unless you know where to look, you may be walking across Baumgarten’s vast embedded installation for several minutes without realising

Rückriem’s installation conjures dramatic geological splendour while, unless you know where to look, you may be walking across Baumgarten’s vast embedded installation for several minutes without realising

iv. Rosa dels vents / Compass Rose, Lothar Baumgarten, 1992. Plaça Pau Vila, Moll de la Barceloneta. Coordinates: 41.381383, 2.186168 to 41.379325, 2.186937

v. Crescendo appare / Growing in Appearance, Mario Merz, plaça Pau Vila, Moll de la Barceloneta. Coordinates: 41.377711, 2.187846 to 41.376372, 2.187541

The secret to Merz’s installation is a formula discovered by several Indian mathematicians whereas Kounellis references the port of Barcelona’s trading history back to Roman times

The secret to Merz’s installation is a formula discovered by several Indian mathematicians whereas Kounellis references the port of Barcelona’s trading history back to Roman times

vi. Una habitació on sempre plou / A Room Where It Is Always Raining, Juan Muñoz, 1992. Plaça del Mar, Barceloneta. Coordinates: 41.374854, 2.189277

vii. L’Estel ferit / The Wounded Star, Rebecca Horn, 1992. Carrer Sant Miquel Platja, 8 Barceloneta. Coordinates: 41.376497, 2.191080

Horn creates a homage to Homage to Barceloneta’s maritime past. The concurrent unity and disparity in Muñoz’s piece is evocative of a group of political prisoners separated by ideological differences

Horn creates a homage to Barceloneta’s maritime past. The concurrent unity and disparity of Muñoz’s figures evoke a group of political prisoners separated by ideological differences

viii. Balança romana / Roman Scales, Jannis Kounellis, 1993. Corner of carrers Miquel Boera and Andrea Dòria, Barceloneta. Coordinates: 41.380328, 2.192197

References:

http://jamesturrell.com

http://jaumeplensa.com

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/ulrich-ruckriem-2258

 

Get the guide BCN Free Art 01: The Port and Barceloneta! Go to www.poblesecbooks.com to purchase a print copy.