If you think Picasso is all about cubes and strange faces, think again. The Picasso Museum in Barcelona has something for everyone. It is a must for the ordinary tourist and the art lover.
You may think of Picasso as the Father of Modern Art. You will be surprised. The first shock is the location of the museum. Perhaps you expected a concrete and glass building. Not a bit of it. The Picasso Museum is in the old city of Barcelona. As you walk along Montcada Street, you see five mansions or palaces. They are medieval. This is old Catalonia. This is the Barcelona of merchants and trade. Surely, you think these Gothic houses cannot contain Picasso. But they do.
Now go round the back of Montcado Street into Sabartés Square. Here is the new entrance building, opened in 2011. This is more like it. Glass from floor to ceiling and a concrete roof. Yet, once inside, old Spain returns. Each palace has an inner courtyard. From the courtyards you climb outside stone staircases to go to the upper floors. Once inside, the rooms are more typical of art galleries anywhere.
Picasso changed art. But art also changed Picasso. He went on a journey throughout his life. He started with portraits, drawing and sketches. It is this early art that is found here, from the early 1890’s, when Picasso was just a teenager, up to about 1917.
Pablo Picasso produced thousands of works of art. He was prolific. The Barcelona Museum was the only one started in his lifetime. With the help of his friend and secretary, Jaume Sabartés, a gallery was started in the Agiular Palace on Montcado Street in 1963. Soon there were so many paintings, drawings and sculptures that the palace next door was added to the museum in 1970. Picasso died in 1973. But the collection grew and grew. Three more neighbouring palaces were added: one in 1985, and two more in1999. As you go from palace to palace, you follow Picasso’s journey.
The art inside is magnificent. But the palaces themselves are wonderful examples of Catalan Gothic architecture. They were mostly built in the 13th and 14th centuries.
The new entrance building is the work of the modern Spanish architect, Jordi Garcés.
Will you enjoy the museum as much as Picasso did when it opened? You will enjoy it more. Because Picasso never visited it. He had moved to France after the Spanish Civil War. He refused to return to Spain while General Franco was in charge. So, though he helped set it up, Picasso never saw his museum. But you have, and you will have been surprised and delighted.
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