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top 10 public art pieces in barcelona

Walk around Barcelona and you are sure to stumble upon a weird, wacky and wonderful piece of public art. Spain is riddled with interesting sculptures and pieces, and in this article we will discover the top 10 pieces of public art in Barcelona

  1. Homage to the Castellers (2012) - Antoni Llena

  2. Topos V (1985) - Eduardo Chillida

  3. Barcelona to Picasso (1983) - Antoni Tapies

  4. Face of Barcelona (1992) - Roy Lichtentein

  5. Fish (1992) - Frank Gehry

  6. The Kiss (2014) - Joan Fontcuberta

  7. Waves - Andreu Alfaro

  8. Catalonia to Francesc Macia (1991) - Josep Maria Subirachs

  9. Carmela (2016) - Jaume Plensa

  10. Mosaic by Miró (1973) - Joan Miró

Homage to the Castellers (2012)

Artist - Antoni Llena

Location - Plaça Sant Miquel, Gothic Quarter

Located just behind the government square in the Gothic Quarter - the Plaça Sant Jaume, Antoni Llena did this piece as a homage to that extraordinary of the Catalan traditions- Human Towers! The idea behind the sculpture is to demonstrate the fragility of the human towers, captured perfectly in the steel bars that seem light by themselves but united they grow strong.

Topos V (1985)

Location -  Plaça del Rei, Gothic Quarter

Eduardo Chillida, former football player come sculptor designed this semi-cube found in the Plaça del Rei. The circular forms make a visual rhyme with the Gothic Architecture in the square. The square where it is found was the sight where public trials and executions would have taken place in the same age as the square was built, the 15th century, as such one of the ideas behind the piece is that it forms borders, or walls, that prevent the history and bad energy of these dark times to spill out into the streets.

Barcelona to Picasso (1983)

Artist - Antoni Tapies

Location - Passeig de Picasso, El Born

This abstract expressionist sculpture baffles many who visit the Parc de la Ciutadela. Inside the glass cube you will find period furniture from the 19th century, all thrown together in a chaotic disorder, with iron girders cutting through. The piece is entitled Barcelona a Picasso ''Tribute to Picasso'' by Antoni Tapies. The furniture is symbolic of society when Picasso was born, with the industrial revolution in full swing. The girders symbolise the revolution and how it was breaking through the structures of society. You will also see a white cloth woven around the picture with a quote by Picasso - ''Art is not just meant to decorate your living room, but is a weapon to be used against the enemy.'' Considering Pablo's masterpiece Guernica, we can understand his passion behind this statement. Also considering Tapies grew up during the Spanish dictatorship, we can see his connection.

Face of Barcelona (1992)

Location - Port Vell, Barceloneta

Put up during the Olympic games of 1992, the US pop artist Roy Lichtenstein was invited to produce the sculpture that would adorn the entrance to the newly reformed harbour. In it we see a tribute to three famous artists from Barcelona. The broken ceramic tiles allude to Gaudi, the primary colours inspired by Miro, and a cubist-style face in homage to Pablo Picasso.

Fish (1992)

Artist - Frank Gehry

Location - Port Olimpic

The Fish sculpture by the architect Frank Gehry, who designed the world-famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, looks as if it is bobbing along on the waters of the Mediterranean. The structure is built in a shiny metal that dazzles as the sun rises over the Mediterranean, reminiscent of the sun dancing on the water of the sea.

The Kiss (2014)

Location - In front of the Cathedral

This piece has exploded in popularity in more recent times due its Instagrammability.

''The world is born in a kiss'' appear to be a kiss from far, but as one draws close you see that is comprised of hundreds of photographs. The collection of photographs are of local citizens who were requested to send a photo that made them think of freedom. This was done in celebration of Day of Catalunya, celebrated on the 11th of September, and recognised as the day that Catalonia lost the war of Spanish Succession and its sovereignty in 1714.


Artist - Andreu Alfaro

Location - Plaça del Carbó

This is one of the first sculptures that visitors on cruise ships see when they arrive in the city. The idea is simple, it is meant to be symbolic of the waves of the Mediterranean sea crashing into one another. The steel structure reaches a height of 42m and was done by the Valencian artist Andreu Alfaro.

Catalonia to Francesc Macia (1991)

Location - Plaça Catalunya

At the top of Plaza Catalunya, where once upon a time stood one of the entrance gates to the city, we find this striking sculpture by one of the most important sculptors of modern Catalonia, Subirachas. Subirachs' crowning piece is the sculpture collection on the new facade of the Sagrada Familia. This piece pays homage to the ex-president of Catalonia from the 1930's- Francesc Macia. Macia believed in a sovereign Catalonia, but the powers that be toppled his plans. That's why in the scuplture we see a flight of stairs, symbolic of the future of Catalonia, but it is turned on its head and hangs precariously on a platform, symbolic of the uncertainty of the future of Catalonia at the time (and some would argue still today!)

Carmela (2016)

Artist - Jaume Plensa

This piece by contemporary sculptor Jaume Plensa was originally supposed to be temporary, but after it proved to be so popular with the local community, they requested that it become a permanent art installation. Located just in front of one of the most iconic pieces of art nouveau architecture, the Palau de la Musica. The cool characteristic of the sculpture is the way that the face changes shape and form according to the different angles that one looks at it. From the sides it appears flat, and from the front 3-d, this transition of shapes alludes to the idea of the transitions one feels as one moves through the ages in life. As the technique that makes the sculpture is that it is adopted from a photo of the subject, Plensa says that the piece is at the meeting point between photo and sculpture, between the ephemeral and the eternal, between the mortal and the divine.

Mosaic by Miró (1973)

Artist - Joan Miró

Location - Las Ramblas

Located on the floor halfway up Las Ramblas, this colourful floor mosaic marks where historically an entry gate into the medieval city of Barcelona was found. This is part of a three-piece series of public art by the artist Joan Miro, the other two being close to the Sants Train Station and the the airport. The idea is to welcome the city's visitors that come by sea, by train and by plane. In this piece we see Miro's characteristic primary colours, mixed in a whimsical child-like shape.


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