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Art in Barcelona: must-see exhibitions

Art exhibitions you won't want to miss in Barcelona's museums and galleries

Calling all lovers of painting, photography, sculpture, and art in general: this is your Time Out selection of the best exhibitions on in Barcelona's museums and galleries.

Tàpies: An Artist's Collection

Sometimes, I love reading the small print. For example, there's a letter in this exhibition that records how Tàpies exchanged nine of his own works for five by other artists, which were the property of US gallery-owner Martha Jackson. I look at the measurements and characteristics of the pieces by Tàpies, and the measurements and names of the artists his work was exchanged for: Pollock, Kline, Motherwell, de Kooning and Sam Francis. The proportion is approximately two to one, both in number of works and size. This small detail highlights the worth of the young Antoni Tàpies at the height of the New York informalism movement, when it was the new capital of the artist world.

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Fundació Antoni Tàpies Until Sunday January 10 2016

Alvar Aalto. 1898-1976. Arquitectura orgànica, art i disseny

Retrospective dedicated to the Finnish architect, who was called 'the Magus of the North' by architectural critic Sigfried Giedion. This coproduction between the Alvar Aalto Museum and the Vitra Design Museum presents the buildings and designs that best represent the architect and that show numerous new aspects of their production (original models and sketches, furniture, lamps and decorative glass objects), and explores the intense relationship between Aalto and artists at the forefront of the time, such as Alexander Calder, Jean Arp and Moholy-Nagy.

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CaixaForum Until Sunday August 23 2015

Revers / Anvers (1972-2015)

'Revers / Anvers' looks at the 40-year career of sculptor Sergi Aguilar. It's a review of his works that aren't grouped chronologically or by stylistic periods, conceived by curator, and friend to Aguilar, Valentin Roma, which seeks to emulate the orderly chaos of the artist's studio. Nature, concern for space, references to landmarks and registration numbers, interest in materials and other creative and stylistic concerns are present in this retrospective.

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MACBA. Museu d'Art Contemporani Until Sunday January 31 2016

Pis(o) Pilot(o)

Beyond their differences, the Colombian city of Medellín and Barcelona are of comparable size, with a long relationship of mutual collaboration, and both have international significance for having promoted an inclusive city plan with many public spaces in the service of social redistribution. However, like many other cities, both still haven't successfully tackle the urgent subject of guaranteeing the right to housing. 'Pis(o) Pilot(o)' is an exhibition focusing on the reflection of housing. The main objective is to develop proposals that respond to the challenges of housing and its relationship with public spaces on a global scale by selecting two specific contexts, and they're in the two starring cities of this exhibition: Barcelona and Medellín.

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CCCB. Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona Until Sunday October 25 2015

DOCfield>15: La temptació d'existir. Christer Strömholm/Anders Petersen

This exhibition presents two series that are essential in the world of European photography from the second half of the 20th century, 'Les amies de Place Blance' by Christer Strömholm and 'Café Lehmitz' by Anders Petersen. These two artists have more in common than just being a big part of Swedish photography – they also share an understanding of the medium that's been decisive in contemporary photography. The works of Strömholm and Petersen, professor and disciple, respectively, exude a palpable  Nordic melancholy and at the same time an intense empathy and commitment to their photographic environments.

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Fundació Foto Colectania Until Thursday July 30 2015

Italia. I sei sensi

If I were Italian and had to choose a city to live in, I wouldn't miss a beat choosing Barcelona. Not Rome, not Naples, not Milan, not Florence. Barcelona. It's like being in Italy without all the inconveniences of living in Italy. I'd go have lunch at the Antico Borgo Napoletano, I'd buy Italian design at Vinçon, and afterwards I'd walk a few metres to the Fundació Suñol, where there's an exhibition of Italian art collections. Let's pause here, at 'Italia. I sei sensi', the six senses that lend their name to the title of the exhibition and a work by Alighiero Boetti: pure meticulous gestures to cover an area of pen strokes and the name of the five senses. And the sixth? Thought! Everything exists in the mind. Here's where we set the clichés aside. Let's not speak of the usual Italian sensuality, say nothing of elegance or Arte Povera, not a word about the bright lightness of the transavantguarde... You can see the whole exhibition in less than half an hour. (read more)

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Fundació Suñol Until Saturday January 9 2016

Teatre proletari de cambra

With just three novels published in his life, Osvaldo Lamborghini (Buenos Aires 1940 – Barcelona 1985) is considered one of the most singular writers in contemporary Argentinean literature. The MACBA dedicates this exhibition (whose title translates to 'Proletarian Chamber Theatre') to him with a selection of his artwork, which until now has remained in his personal archives and never been shown to the public.

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MACBA. Museu d'Art Contemporani Until Sunday September 6 2015

The Beast and the Sovereign

Arguably the best way of visiting this exhibition is entering, backwards, through the exit. And, if you can manage it, with your top on back-to-front and inside-out. It’s all a question of getting into the spirit of a show that begins by being (apparently) closed, and only opens its doors to visitors after you’ve passed a sign that says ‘being dismantled’. The philosophy is perhaps best summed up by the video Inversión by Cuban artist Glenda León, which appears in the exhibition: a razor scrapes across a hundred-dollar bill until it’s left with no green ink. The resulting dust is vacuumed up by a rolled-up coca leaf...

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MACBA. Museu d'Art Contemporani Until Sunday August 30 2015