The Eye

The best coming art

The most prominent exhibitions of the year embrace new perspectives on Picasso, Miró and Gaudí and one major project on the operation of safeguarding the Catalan artistic heritage during the Civil War


The pandemic is still here, but life goes on, and so does cultural activity, despite the many difficulties. However, there will be some really great art to see this year. So, what exhibitions should we not miss in 2021? Surely there is something for everyone in the following list of proposals.

War and art. Barcelona and Gaudí. These are the two thematic blocks at the MNAC. The first will offer exhibitions by the photographer Antoni Campañà (including some unpublished material from the Civil War), and the artist Francesc Torres.

During the second half of the year, the museum will review Gaudí’s legacy with a new view presenting him in relation to both to the Barcelonan context and the European avant-garde movements. The Mnac will also recover one of the exhibitions that could not be shown last year because of of the pandemic: the one establishing the creative links between Llorens Artigas and Hamada Shoji.

Macba starts off with the post-colonialist art of Félix González-Torres, in Política de la relació (March 26 to September 12). The museum in Plaça dels Àngels aims to pay homage to the Cuban creator and forerunner of queer aesthetics, who died of AIDS in 1996. Another big show at the Macba (May 13 to November 21) will focus on the Catalan conceptual art of the seventies, eighties and nineties, a project supported by the art collector Rafael Tous.

Mart.El mirall vermell (February 24 to July 11) will kick off the year at the CCCB with high doses of reality to make us reflect on the battered planet Earth. Our planet and its ways of life, not only the human ones, will be the focus of Ciència fricció. Viure entre espècies companyes (from June 8 to November 28). Life and living processes will also feature in a performative experiment, Urban nature (from July 1 to September 19) by the Rimini Protocol theatre. And in La màscara mai menteix (December 2021 to May 2022), the CCCB will scrutinise the mask as a political tool used by all ideological stripes. The anti-Covid mask will, of course, have something to say about that.

The new season at CaixaForum of Barcelona will open with the obligatory names of pop art (Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning...) in the exhibition, The American Dream (from March 3 to June 13), which will be provided by the British Museum collection.

There will also be space for an immersive experience created by the Japanese collective, teamLab, which will merge art, technology and nature (April 21 to August 29). In addition, the Georges Pompidou centre will send its collections for a retrospective of the designer and French engineer, Jean Prouvé (from July 15 to October 31).

The Miró Foundation will explore the roots of Catalan modernity with Joan Miró and ADLAN (March 12 to July 4). This is an investigation cooked slowly and collectively in numerous archives that preserved documentation of this group of visionaries, the Friends of Art Nouveau (ADLAN), which put Barcelona on the map of the most artistically advanced places in Europe in the thirties.

Picasso i les joies, is the main event of the year at the Museu Picasso(from May 20 to September 26), a project on one of the artist’s least known pursuits, artistic jewelry, which often has an intimate character, since the artist would make it for his partners. Picasso’s jewels were often made with humble objects found, for example, on the beach.

The Museu del Disseny will also dress up in jewellery with an exhibition dedicated to the first women jewellers who worked in Catalonia during the second half of the 20th century: Joieres. 1965-1990. Art, experimentació i disseny (September to November). The museum in Plaça de les Glories will also put on Tocades per Balenciaga (June to October), a festival of hats created by the famous designer in the thirties and late sixties.

In June, it will open Perpetuum Mobile, with work by the architect, Enric Mirallesas.

At the Fundació FotoColectania, the pioneering reporter Mary Ellen Mark will have the retrospective, Vides de dones (March 18 to June 27), exploring the ideas that sustain the feminist movement today.

Great loss of visitors

Visitor numbers to museum plummeted in 2020. The three months of lockdown, the lack of foreign visitors and the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have taken their toll. For instance, the Picasso Museum has lost 92% of visitors compared with 2019; the Foundació Miró and La Pedrera, nearly 90%.

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