Buscando Barcelona

Archive for the ‘Cultural Activities’ Category

My  visit to one of Gaudi’s most famous buildings was incredibly interesting. The rooftop terrace, attic, stairwells, and overall design of the building are a perfect showcase of his revolutionary Modernist ideas for architecture. I also found it incredibly interesting how his devotion to his faith played a role in his design.

            For example, on each side of the roof top terraces are arches that serve as frames for 2 of the cathedrals in the city of Barcelona, one being another of his own works, La Sagrada Familia. He also attempted to add a sculpture of the Virgin Mary flanked by two angels to the façade of the building. However, due to political and religious unrest during the time of construction, the commissioner forbid this addition. In the end, I think that this was a good decision. The façade of the building is already so interesting that anything more would be too much. The stone and iron are a stark contrast to his other works such as Casa Batllo and Parc Guell, but it is the beauty in the simplicity of the building’s exterior that makes it such a work of art.

            Its important to note that Gaudi does not completely forego his love for embellishment in this building. On the rooftop terrace, his signature trencadis covers the two large air vents that are visible from the street. This shows both his attention to detail and his practicality. It would have been a waste of money to cover all of the vents because half cannot be seen from the street. Another interesting way of saving money while still adding decoration is using broken bottles of Cava, a popular Catalan wine, for trencadis on one set of vents.

            Another incredible part of the building was the attic just below the terrace. His ability to create such an open, free flowing space was only possible through the use of the Catanary arch. This was also a frugal means of construction. It uses less bricks and creates more space. This was also a way to see how he was inspired by nature. The vault created by the rows of arches resembles the spine and ribs of a skeleton. Also, the façade of the building is inspired by nature in that it curves like the waves of the Mediterranean, and the wrought iron balconies are twisted and curved to resemble the surf as it crashes to shore.

            I really liked seeing in person all of Gaudi’s trademark techniques and inspirations. Its incredible how all the different styles come together to make one incredible work of art. Gaudi was truly ahead of his time and Casa Mila is one of the best testaments to his architectural genius. Gaudi will always be associated with Barcelona. He adored his city and gave back in one of the most immortal ways. His architecture has become the hallmark of Barcelona and is part of what makes it such a culturally and artistically progressive city.

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      Every couple of weeks, my friends and I would go to the Consum, buy a couple bottles of wine and head to the Font Magica. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. You get off at the Espanya stop on and walk up Carrer de Reina Cristina which is lined with brightly lit pillars of water.  There in the center, framed by the rows of fountains and the stunning National Catalan Museum of Art is a massive fountain shining like a jewel as it spouts water into the sky. Surrounding the vivid sapphires, emeralds, rubies, golds, topazes, and amethysts of the fountain’s lights are hundreds of spectators, both tourists and locals alike. All ages come out to see the fountain, from the little girl twirling like a ballerina to the music, to the elderly couple holding hands and watching quietly. Music booms into the plaza surrounding the fountain as the spectators enjoy drinks and tapas from the three café’s in the area. The music ranges from classical favorites that I find myself swaying to, to 80s hits which my friends and I sing along with.

            The Magic Fountain gives you an unexpected glimpse into the culture of Barcelona. Time is not as strictly observed. The fountain show is scheduled to begin at 7, but the crowd does not really thicken for about another half hour. And while it is after dinner time for most of the tourists visiting the show, the locals are casually sipping drinks and snacking on tapas as an appetizer to their dinners which they will go home to after the show around 9.People are much more laid back and take the time to go to events like this that their city offers. This is very different from where I live in the US.  My town does not have a fountain show, or anything remotely like it. And you really cannot beat the views the steps up to the MNAC provide of Barcelona at night. Theirs is truly nothing more beautiful.

 This also lets you have a glimpse into the pride that the people of Barcelona have for their city. At the end of the show, the theme song to the 1992 summer Olympics plays, obviously called Barcelona. If you turn your back to the fountain and look up past the 9 beams of white light (one for each letter of the city) that crown the MNAC, you can catch a glimpse of the white modern sculpture that marks the site of the Olympic Village. The Olympics were a huge economic and social turning point in the history of Barcelona that turned them from a Catalan capital, to a tourist and economic capital of Europe. The number of locals who still come out to view this beautiful display is a testament to the pride they feel in these events.

My trip to the Museu Picasso was incredibly interesting.  Picasso came to live in Barcelona when he was 14 years old and became one of the city’s most influential artists. Here he studied at the Lloja Art school which was discussed earlier. His father was an art teacher there and while he learned alot from him, he was a true child prodigy in the arts.  Picasso loved Barcelona because he spent his key years as an artists apprentice in this city. Because of this, his last wish was to have a museum established there. In 1963 with the help of  his personal friend Jaume Sabartes, the museum opened its doors at 15 Carrer de Montcada, and is now one of the many museums in the modern guild along this street. The setting of the museum is almost as stunning as the collection itself. Set inside a series of 4 connected palaces, mainly the Palau Berenguer d’Aguilar, the contrast created between the medieval architecture and the modern art is beautiful.

            The collection within is much of Sabarte’s personal collection, along with several lithographs, posters, drawings and pottery from the artist’s home. While most of the works are relatively unknown, it is not to say they aren’t as important as those shown in the Louvre or in Madrid. In fact, they give more information about the development of Picasso as an artist. One of my favorites was Science and Charity. It depicts a person sick in bed with a doctor on one side representing medicine, and a nun on the other representing religion. Picasso was conflicted at this time with his father because his father was of the academic style of painting but Picasso favored the freer styles. In the painting Picasso manages to create the illusion of the shortening and lengthening of the plane of the bed as you walk from one side of the painting to the other. This incredible knack for perspective is often imitated but has rarely been duplicated so perfectly by any other artist.

Another one of the most interesting paintings I saw was The Madman.  It is of an irrationally tall man who has a crazed expression on his face. I learned in my architecture class that this painting was the transition between the sadness he felt in the blue period and the rejection of his sad reality in the rose period. He had come to terms with the fact that he could not change his circumstances at the time and rather than actually go crazy, he left his feelings behind on paper.

Author’s Note: Because I was not allowed to take pictures inside the museum because of possible damage to the artworks with the flash, all the pictures displayed are from the internet!