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Takis. Champs Magnétiques, 1969
Foto: Allison Chipak Takis. Champs Magnétiques, 1969

Top art exhibitions in Barcelona right now

These are the art exhibitions on in Barcelona's museums and galleries that you won't want to miss

By Aina Mercader, Ricard Mas and Eugènia Sendra
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Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.  

Calling all lovers of painting, photography, sculpture, and art in general: we know one of the biggest things to do in Barcelona for you is to check out the best exhibitions on in the city right now. This is our selection of what you won't want to miss in Barcelona's museums and galleries.

Barcelona's best art exhibitions

Barbara Hammer collage
Photograph: Barbara Hammer

1. Barbara Hammer. Sisters!

Art Virreina Centre de la Imatge, El Raval

This is the first retrospective here of the work of Barbara Hammer (Los Angeles, 1939 – New York, 2019), an activist and one of the most influential authors of experimental cinema, which covers her 50-year career. A pioneer in exploring from a political point of view lesbian life and sexuality and the meaning of death, as well as the personal and collective stories of those suffering from social marginalization, Hammer made 83 films – both shorts and feature-length – and produced a huge number of collages, drawings, performances, photographs and installations.

Daido Moriyama: A Diary
Photograph: Daido Moriyama / Foto Colectania

2. Daido Moriyama: A Diary

Art Foto Colectania,

This exhibition is dedicated to Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama, who received the prestigious Hasselblad Award in 2019. Moriyama is one of the most renowned photographers in Japan, praised both for his radical approach to the subjects he deals with, and for his approach to photography itself. 'A Diary' looks back at five decades of Moriyama's career; the artist captured city life and the chaos of daily existence with a language straddling the illusory and the real. Moriyama was one of the prominent names in the 'Provoke' movement, linked to the magazine of the same name, which featured grainy, blurred and unfocused images. 

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'Listening to the Shades' (2007), by Nalini Malani
Photograph: Nalini Malani

3. Nalini Malani. You Don't Hear Me

Art Fundació Joan Miró, Sants - Montjuïc

Three months after it was put together, the exhibition 'You Don't Hear Me' finally gets to make its debut before the public. It unfolds like an illustrated book and, in this set of drawings, installations and films where ancient and contemporary mythologies from the East and the West intersect, the committed voice of the Indian artist Nalini Malani, winner of the 2019 Joan Miró Prize, resonates. Her speeches connect rooms and projects; the most recent are the animations she shares on Instagram, with references to power, the end of utopias, and the need to listen to each other across an exhausted planet.

Oriol Vilapuig
© MNAC

4. Oriol Vilapuig. Son. Imprints and figurations in Valls d’Àneu

Art Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC), Sants - Montjuïc

Catalan artist Oriol Vilapuig works with imagery that focuses on baptismal and oil fonts, which are typically found in the Àneu valleys area in the territory of Pallars Sobirà, where Vilapuig often creates. Shapes of nature, fissures, centuries-old marks, pebbly ground, animal footprints... they all appear using the frottage, or 'rubbing', technique, a procedure that allows the images to appear by contact. 

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'Fairies', by Josefa Tolrà
Photograph: Josefa Tolrà / Fundació Joan Brossa

5. The medium and the poet. An astral conversation between Josefa Tolrà and Joan Brossa

Art

This exhibition connects the works and personalities of Josefa Tolrà and Joan Brossa via works and drawings, some never before seen. The creative relationship between the medium Tolrà and the poet Brossa and their mutual admiration are examined. The exhibition is distributed in different areas: the Beyond talks about the role that the voice and the supernatural universe played in the trajectory of the two artists; the Universe features references to cartography and journeys; and Utopia, or the space for freedom, evokes folklore, homeland and kinship.

6. Antoni Tàpies. Profound certainty

3 out of 5 stars
Art Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Dreta de l'Eixample

The Antoni Tàpies Foundation, which is coming up on the 30th anniversary of when it first opened to the public, presents a block of work by Antoni Tàpies done in 1991. The artist produced a series of works in Barcelona on synthetic textile mats that he used to cover and protect his studio floor while he painted. Manuel J. Borja-Villel, the then-director of the Foundation's museum, selected some of these to exhibit under the title 'Profound certainty'. Twenty-eight years later, the Foundation is showing this block of work in its entirety, including pieces that have not been exhibited before, and accompanying it with a series of bronze and chamotte clay sculptures from the same period.

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Piero Fornasetti
Photograph: Fornasetti

7. Objects of desire. Surrealism and design. 1924-2020

Art CaixaForum, La Font de la Guatlla

The shadow of surrealism is long and reaches through to the present, bleeding into contemporary art and design, as well as everyday objects. Enter this exhibition, which brings together 285 pieces that demonstrate the exchange and influence of surrealism and design. It's distributed in four areas where topics addressed include fascination with ethnology, sexuality, transgression applied to fashion, film as a vehicle for movement and the role played by women artists. You'll see works from masters of the genre such as Dalí, Man Ray, Le Corbusier, Lee Miller and Meret Oppenheim; worthy successors Carlo Mollino and Piero Fornasetti; and contemporaries Gae Aulenti, Humberto and Fernando Campana, and the Frente Design collective, among others.

'Dispersió de la primera pedra', de Jordi Mitjà
Foto: Time Out Barcelona

8. It happens every day

Art Fabra i Coats, Sant Andreu

Artist Jordi Mitjà gives visitors an updated look at his career in an exhibition which highlights emblematic works that create a dialogue with new work, showing off the artist's habitual processes, such as employing and manipulating techniques, objects and images. In this 'non-retrospective' shown across three rooms, Mitjà has faced the challenge of the open space of Fabra i Coats. On the ground floor are works closest to the artist's practice, among which a locksmith cutting table stands out, and he's once again brought the flying stone that he created for the premiere of the Contemporary Art Centre at the Canòdrom creative research park.

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William Klein. Gun 1, Broadway 103rd St., New York, 1954
Photograph: William Klein / La Pedrera

9. William Klein. Manifest

4 out of 5 stars
Art Casa Milà (La Pedrera), Dreta de l'Eixample

William Klein is one of the key figures in 20th-century photography. His open, transgressive spirit and his artistic nature, which strays far from rules and tradition, made him one of the principal photography reformists of his time. Large formats, framing that took chances, the marked grain of the photos, a sense of architecture and a greatly impactful human vision are some of the fundamental characteristic features of his work. Explore the artistic world of this American photographer through some 200 works in this first retrospective exhibition held in Barcelona, which highlights the multifaceted nature of Klein's work. 

Discover Barcelona's Best Museums

Museu Picasso
Photo: Juan Ávila

The 11 best Barcelona museums

Museums

Among the best things to do in Barcelona is visiting the city's impressive collections of art in Barcelona's museums and galleries. Famed Spanish artists such as Picasso, Dalí and Velázquez, among others, run the gamut of the 'isms' – Cubism, Impressionism, Modernism and Post-Modernism... But in Barcelona's museums you'll also find plenty of collections that span from medieval times to the 1990s. Contemporary works by established and lesser-known artists are omnipresent too.

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