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Art in Barcelona: must-see exhibitions

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

© Jordi Calveras

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.

David Bowie Is

This first international retrospective dedicated to David Bowie is produced by London's Victoria & Albert Museum and brings together some 300 objects from the artist's personal collection; it's a celebration of five decades of the iconic and innovative musician's career, and, indeed, of contemporary culture. Among other pieces, the exhibition displays special items such as Ziggy Stardust's outfits, album covers by Guy Peellaert and Edward Bell, video performances such as 'The Man Who Fell to Earth', music videos, and some stage designs from Bowie's tours, in addition to other personal items, from set lists to journal notes that reveal his evolution as a creator.

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Museu del Disseny de Barcelona , El Parc i la Llacuna del Poblenou Until Sunday August 20 2017

Picasso. Retrats

I don't know whether to tell you that the face is the window to the soul or its mask, but I still don't know a single painter who has done a portrait of anyone showing only the subject's feet. And if that painter did exist, he'd deserve to be called Picasso. You can see for yourself at the exhibition 'Picasso. Portraits' in the Picasso Museum, via 81 works in oil, charcoal, engravings and sculptures the artist created over 76 years. From the first portraits of his father and aunt in 1896 to those of his children, partners and friends, as well as the group of artists who hung out at Els 4 Gats – Joaquim Mir, Rusiñol, Ramon Pichot; French critics and poets such as Gustave Coquiot, Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob; gallery owners Kahnweiler and Ambroise Vollard; musical geniuses such as Igor Stravinsky and Francis Poulenc; and a repeat subject, his good friend, secretary and factotum of the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Jaume Sabartés.

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Museu Picasso , Ciutat Vella Until Sunday June 25 2017

World Press Photo

Barcelona's 13th edition of the World Press Photo exhibition is here. Organised in the city by the Photographic Social Vision Foundation, the show features photos that have been given this prestigious international award for photojournalism. The migration crisis is still present in this year's edition, as are political conflicts, human mobility and the influence of technology on connectivity and information trafficking, as well as the impact of humans on the environment.

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CCCB. Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona , El Raval Until Sunday June 4 2017
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Oriol Vilanova. Sunday

For the last 15 years Catalan artist Oriol Vilanova has visited flea markets every Sunday and has amassed a collection of some 34,000 postcards that he's classified into 100 sections. One of the sections has been tagged as 'unclassifiable' by the artist, leaving it open for more additions. Vilanova seems to have been drawn mostly to architectural motifs, but other themes include arches, flags, roads, cats, oranges, sunsets and zoos, among so many others, which in themselves make up a museum of various times and places that tourists and travellers have sent back home over the years.

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Fundació Antoni Tàpies , Dreta de l'Eixample Until Sunday May 28 2017

The Pillars of Europe. The Middle Ages at the British Museum

This exhibition provides a unique opportunity to see the first exhibition to come out of the agreement between the social projects from 'la Caixa' and the British Museum. The aim of 'The Pillars of Europe...', which includes the period between 400 and 1500 AD, is to open a window on to the medieval world via the treasures and material culture of both the dominant elite and the classes of the people. The exhibition features more than 260 extraordinary objects from the British Museum collection, many of which had never previously been shown. You'll also find items on loan from the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid, the National Museum of Art of Catalonia (MNAC), and the Frederic Marès museum. These treasures help to explain crucial events, highlight famous figures, and show visitors different aspects of the era, such as royal life, war and conquest, as well as daily life.

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CaixaForum , La Font de la Guatlla Until Sunday June 18 2017

Torné Esquius. Poetics of the everyday

There have always been poets of silence, but not silent ones. The oil paintings by Pere Torné Esquius (Barcelona, ​​1879 - Flavancourt, France, 1936) seem to re-create simple compositions of interiors where the human figure is always absent. Flat colours, with no shadows or brush traces, ranges of greens, plants, tables, chairs, windows... signs of the abandoned man in an emphatic parenthesis. But let's forget about compositional complexity, forced perspectives and, most important, the ability to evoke that so much has happened, even though there's nothing there. Torné Esquius made his living in France as an illustrator, and in Catalonia as a painter. Stylistically, his work doesn't fit in with either the modernists or the 'noucentista' style.

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Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) , Sants - Montjuïc Until Sunday July 9 2017
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Antoni Tàpies Collection. Objects

At the end of the 1960s, coinciding with an increase in his political commitment, Antoni Tàpies put more emphasis on his work with objects. It wasn't anything new for the artist – he'd already been working with them since he started with material paintings. In 1956, for the window display at the shop Gales on Passeig de Gràcia, Tàpies created the work 'Metallic door and violin'. With this piece, which paired an old, beat-up, ugly warehouse door along with a violin and which was part of the creation of five Christmas scenes organised by Alexandre Cirici, Tàpies gave value to items previously condemned to disuse.

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Fundació Antoni Tàpies , Dreta de l'Eixample Until Thursday September 28 2017

Frederic Amat. Zoòtrop

This exhibition presents a selection of projects in public spaces, both natural and urban, often related to architecture, with the aim of creating a map or topography of Barcelona artist Frederic Amat's work, always searching for the poetic component that is derived from all of his pieces. The exhibition, like the zoetrope it's named for, aims to show various facets of Amat's work in relation to space, architecture, the city and the landscape.

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La Pedrera , Dreta de l'Eixample Until Sunday July 16 2017

MACBA Collection 31

This exhibition is part of the MACBA Collection series that finishes up with a cycle of itineraries that encompasses three areas: experience, time and conflict. The 85 works created by 50 artists between 1959 and 2014 question the various forms of conflict in the world today, and reflect on the relationship of art with itself and its ability to challenge reality. The most spectacular work is the installation 'Entrevendo, 1970-1994' ['Glimpsing'] (2013) by Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles, which is a giant wooden funnel with a fan that blows a spiral of hot air. Before you enter the smaller end of the funnel, you're given two pieces of ice – one is spiral-shaped and sweet, and one is curved and salty. You walk through the funnel toward its larger end as the ice pieces melt in your mouth. There are also pieces that look right at you, like '100 Jahre' ['100 Years'] (2001) by Hans-Peter Feldman, which features 101 portraits of people from ages eight weeks to 100 years old, all centred in the frame. And golden oldies like 'Corpo d'aria' ['Body of Air'] (1959-1960) by Piero Manzoni. Ethical, poetic... and a bit of fetishism.

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MACBA. Museu d'Art Contemporani , El Raval Until Sunday June 4 2017
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