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who are the famous artists from barcelona

Miró mosaic on Las Ramblas

Before we dip into the palette of the famous artists from Barcelona, we feel it is prudent to commence with a disclaimer- this list is not a comprehensive list of all of the artists who have achieved success, but rather the most famous artists who have left their mark on the city. As the series continues we will start to delve deeper into the more obscure ones. In this article, we will introduce Antoni Gaudí, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí and Antoni Tápies, with a bonus if you stick around til the end. ;)

Casa Milá by Antoni Gaudí

Starting off our excursion into the famous artists from Barcelona we have the man whose name is synonymous with the city- the architect Antoni Gaudí. His fame in the city is such that even people who are not necessarily interested in Art will go out to see his works. And what extraordinary works they are. There is a legend that when Gaudí qualified from architecture school as a Master Builder, his Headmaster made a prophecy of his life - “Don Gaudi,“ he would proclaim, “you will either prove to be a genius, or a madman- only time will tell!“ And time has shown that he was more likely a little bit of both.

In the highly competitive world of Art Nouveau architecture in 19th century Barcelona, the thing that set Gaudí apart from his contemporaries is that whereas they would look to nature as decorative detail for their works, Gaudi sought to recreate nature. He would dedicate years of his life to studying natural forms and his architecture was his expression to recreate these forms. Resulting in some of the most surreal, extraordinary and original architecture in the entire world. His masterpieces include La Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, La Pedrera, and Casa Batlló, and if you're after his more off-the-beaten-path stuff there is the Palau Güell, the Colonia Güell and the Casa Viçens.

30 years after Gaudi was born in Catalonia, a young man was born in Málaga that would have a completely different perspective on life, and would become another celebrity in the history of art, none other than the painter Pablo Picasso. Pablo's father was an art teacher in Andalusia, and got a job at the Academy of Fine Art in Barcelona, bringing the Picasso family with them to the city when young Pablo was 13. He spent his teenage years in the Catalan Capital, found a deep love for Catalonia, and would even end up proclaiming- “There is where it all began… There is where I understood how far I could go“. His museum is interesting as it doesn't hold many of his more abstract cubist pieces, but rather holds the collection of his works while he was still discovering his style in the city. Expect to see realistic portraits worthy of a Renaissance Master that the prodigy painted while he was still an adolescent. If you are coming to Barcelona and want to dive deeper into the fascinating stories of Pablo Picasso, check out our underground Picasso tour here.

The Micasso Museum of Barcelona is one of the most frequented museums in the city

A contemporary of Picasso was the Barcelona-born Joan Miró. Whereas he didn't achieve the same level of fame as his Andalusian counterpart, he is regarded as a highly influential artist in art history by critics. He developed an abstract style, employing basic shapes as symbols and achieving an almost childlike effect. His museum on the Montjuic hill is a fun museum which doesn't take itself too seriously, complimented by the architecture of LLuis Sert, who worked with the artist in developing the building. As well as his museum there are three public pieces scattered throughout the city- on Las Ramblas, the Airport and in the park that bears his name Parc Joan Miró.

Harlequin's Carnival by Joan Miró

Picasso and Miró both painted huge murals in the 1930s as a protest to the Civil War that broke out in their homeland when General Francisco Franco led a coup to overthrow the government. He would win the war which resulted in the dictatorship from 1936-1975, this would in turn influence one of Spain's most important modern artists- Antoni Tápies. Tapies was born in Barcelona and developed a style classified as Informalism, not dissimilar to Abstract Expressionism, along the lines of Jackson Pollock. His works are to be found in the museum bearing his name and also in the MACBA- Museum of Art Contemporary Barcelona.

White Hand by Antoni Tápies

As a final mention one of the most entertaining, curious and polemic artists, while he was alive and indeed even in his death- was the King of Surrealism, Salvador Dali. Whereas Dali was born in Catalonia, and loved donning the national Catalan dress as part of his theatrical antics, you will find little love for Dali there, and even less in Barcelona. As with everything there are many shades to this story, but the main brushstrokes were two. Dali's support for Franco during the dictatorship was already losing him many popularity points, but the final nail in the coffin was that on Dali's deathbed, when he was in discussions as to the inheritance of his estate, he decided to leave all of his work to the Spanish government, snubbing the Catalans. Since then you will not find a plaza dedicated to the moustached man, much less a monument, in Barcelona. In the north of Catalonia you will find his Museum- property of the Spanish government.

Gala Placidia, Galatea of the spheres by Salvador Dalí

At Artspace Tours we always like to go the extra mile, so as a bonus guest, not from Spain but with a work in Barcelona that is part of his legacy as one of the great contemporary artists- Keith Haring. Pioneer of graffiti a decade before Banksy, Haring painted a mural in the Raval neighbourhood entitled 'Todos juntos podemos para el SIDA' - 'Altogether we can stop AIDS'. This was painted as part of the artists' AIDS awareness activism, one year after he was diagnosed with AIDS. Sadly he died from complications arising from the illness a few years later, but his spirit lives on in his work preserved by the local council, found next to the MACBA.

Cool photo spot- the Keith Haring mural next to the MACBA

So there you have it, from the singular architecture of Antoni Gaudí, the early works of Pablo Picasso, the abstract surrealist Joan Miró, the surreal avant-gardist Salvador Dalí, the modern master Antoni Tápies and the inimitable Keith Haring, here are the names of the most famous artists in Barcelona. Keep an eye out for our list of more artists from the city.


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