August 27, 2008

First museum day.

Today was a big sightseeing day and my first official day of museums here. Since I have the luxury of being here for awhile I don’t need to cram in all of the museums at once and can take advantage of their specials for entry. For example, I went to MACBA (Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona) today because on Wednesdays they have a reduced rate of entry for 3,50 Euros.

The museum itself was this grand white structure with large windows on one side and slightly Apple store feeling on the inside (since I couldn’t take photos inside you will have to take my word for it). The exhibits that were there today were Francesc Torres and Nancy Spero. Torres is a Barcelona-born artist who also lived in NYC for about 20+ years and was a part of the SoHo art scene back in the 80s and 90s. His work was mostly in blacks, whites, and grays (with one final room of color photography) and mostly speaking about war, the caste system and consumerism. My first grouping of his were large oversize black and white photographs hung up simply with white pushpins of artifacts and bones that had been unearthed and were shot in the dirt in which they were found. More photos in this series were small groups of eldery women and then one final extremely large portrait of about 20 people standing over a dirt pile with skeletons. I learned this series was about the Spanish Civil War and the Franco years and it was really moving.

The second artist whose work was shown was Spero and she is an American artist based in New York as well. Her pieces took on the subject of subordination of women and the cruelty against women in some countries; a whole room was specifically about Chile, Uruguay and others in South and Central America. The most moving piece of hers was a poem she took from a German writer named Bertold Brecht about a woman named Marie Sanders who in Nazi Germany “slept with a man whose hair was too dark”. The end of the poem finds Marie killed while more and more German soldiers are coming. She uses a lot of handmade and hand-set typography, collage, and many printmaking techniques.

Overall, I enjoyed the MACBA and found it really helpful that both artists had influences from America so the majority of text to read in their work was in English. Not sure if this is usually the case at this museum, but I guess I lucked out today.

The smaller museo (which happened to be right next door) I went to afterwards and absolutely loved – Forment de les Arts Decoratives (this literally means Fostering Art & Design). I thought I was lucky that the MACBA had some English to read but here at this museum it felt like my birthday – there was an exhibit on Spanish book design!

This museum was pretty simple and funky with red-painted framework on everything and one long narrow room. I was also able to take photos inside which was great; I asked the guard and he told me I could but when I had gone down the fourth row of work I saw a sign with a diagonal line in a circle over a camera. Who knows? All I know is that there were some clever and beautiful books with lots of delicious letterpressed type and great illustration. Being a graphic designer, it was an extremely inspiring visit

After the museums I headed down Las Ramblas and went to the most famous market in Barcelona called Mercat de la Boqueria but I will save some writing for tomorrow as well as some picture-uploading!

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