30 January 2020

8 Barcelona artists you need to know about

Barcelona has been a source of inspiration to artists for centuries. The city is filled with beautiful architecture, sculptures, paintings, even street art. Who are the famous artists that come from, or were majorly influenced, by beautiful Barcelona? Read on to find out.

Catalan landscape, painting by Barcelona surrealist artist Joan Miró
Catalan landscape, painting by Barcelona surrealist artist Joan Miró, photo via joan-miro.net

Antoni Gaudí

One of the most-well known and famous artists from Barcelona is architect Antoni Gaudí. He may well be considered one of the fathers of modernism and many minds automatically think of Gaudi when they hear Barcelona. He loved to mix nature, religion, modernity and often included rich symbolism in his works. He is best known for the Sagrada Família and Casa Batlló but also created a technique called trencadís, which is the colourful mosaic pattern of broken tiles and ceramics found on the long bench in Parc Güell.

The Sagrada Familia in autumn light
The Sagrada Família is Gaudí's magnum opus and one of the most famous basilicas in the world, photo via @ylli

Pablo Picasso

Picasso is one of the most important artistic figures of the 20th century. Though he wasn’t born here, he started to develop his technique right here in Barcelona at the Escuela de Bellas Artes when he was accepted at the tender age of 13. He later moved to Madrid, and then France, but he spent his formative years in the Catalan capital and often returned when he was lacking inspiration. One of his most famous paintings – Demoiselles d’Avignon – was inspired by the prostitutes who worked on Carrer d’Avinyó in the Gothic Quarter. There is even the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, where you can discover the artist’s first works.

Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso is inspired by the prostitutes of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, photo via Wikipedia

Antoni Tàpies

Antoni Tàpies was born in Barcelona to a politically active family and many of his works included criticisms representing his opinions, especially after the Second World War. He vehemently opposed Franco’s dictatorship and believed in an independent Catalonia. He was a founding member of the movement known as Dau al Set, which is related to surrealism and dadaism. His first pieces were considered surrealist, but his style changed as he began to use mixed-media which included recycled or discarded materials, ropes, paper and sawdust, to create sculptures.

Picture of the Fundació Tàpies. Modernist building with wire sculpture above it.
The Fundació Tàpies, with his own work called Núvol i cadira (Cloud and Chair), photo via @antonitapiesmuseum

Joan Miró

Joan Miro is another Barcelona-born artist, considered to be one of the biggest names in surrealism. In his works he focused on the subconscious, childlike play, and the culture and traditions of Catalonia. Miró was first influenced by cubism, expressionism, and the bright colours of fauvism, but as he developed his own style, Miró became more interested in fantasy and surrealism. One of his biggest projects was the creation of the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona which is a cultural and artistic centre for contemporary art. Many of his sculptures and mosaics can be seen around the city.

Miró's famous mosaic Pla de l'Os, on La Rambla
Miró's famous mosaic Pla de l'Os, on La Rambla, photo via @raphacysne

Lluïsa Vidal

Lluïsa Vidal grew up in a rich and cultured family in Barcelona. She was the only woman of her time to dedicate herself to painting professionally during an era in which it was generally frowned upon. She went to study painting in Paris and when she returned, she found it hard to make a name for herself so she threw herself into the feminist movement and continued to paint portraits, almost solely of women. After her death, her paintings were mostly forgotten. The art dealers who recognized the quality of her work often changed the signatures to those of better-appreciated artists. She is the only female painter of Catalan Modernism.

Self portrait, Lluïsa Vidal, photo via Wikipedia

Joan Brossa

Joan Brossa’s poems didn’t just appear on paper. This Barcelona artist expressed his poetry through visual methods – scenery, objects and playing with shapes. One of his most famous visual pieces is the letters forming the word Barcino outside the old Roman wall in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.

Cast iron letters forming the word Barcino
Joan Brossa's "Barcino", photo via Wikipedia

El Pez

You’ve probably walked by El Pez’s artwork without even knowing it. Once you see the artist’s signature toothy, smiling fish, you’ll recognize them in many places. Jose Sabata “El Pez” set out to make his city of Barcelona a more positive place in 1999. His colourful graffiti is now known all over the world as he travels and spreads his happy message.

A colourful, large mural with smiling fish
A mural Pez did in Navarra, Spain, photo via @pezbarcelona

Sixeart

Sergio Hidalgo Paredes is a Barcelona contemporary graffiti artist known as Sixeart. He started with graffiti in the 80s before it became as popular as it is now, and since then has expanded to painting and sculpture. The bright colours and geometric patterns of his work have been compared to those of the famous Joan Miró.

One of Sixeart's pieces in Castilla-La Mancha, Spain
One of Sixeart's pieces in Castilla-La Mancha, Spain, photo via @madridstreetartproject