Great art in sight
Picasso, Miró and Dalí are the heavyweights of the new exhibition season that also includes a significant presence of female artists and some medieval gems
The big event will be Miró-Picasso at the two artists’ respective museums, exploring the relationship of the great artists
A prediction we can confidently make is that 2023 will be a year full of great art. Picasso and Miró are the main stars of a stellar art season, with Dalí not far behind. Meanwhile, women artists are no longer an afterthought and we can look forward to seeing some of the country’s best medieval art.
Picasso the king
It will be difficult to outshine Picasso this year. The 50th anniversary of his death has an international dimension, but in Barcelona the big event will be Miró-Picasso (Oct 19-Feb 25), at the two artists’ respective museums, exploring their relationship. Both artists will feature in an exhibition at the Palau Foundation in Caldes d’Estrac (Apr 29-Sep 24), with a display of photographs by Jean Marie del Moral of two of the landscapes that influenced them: Horta de Sant Joan in Picasso’s case and Mont-roig del Camp for Miró. A return visit to the Caldes d’Estrac gallery is a must in the autumn for an exhibition on how Picasso was seen by Catalan artists. Picasso will also be the subject of an exhibition at Barcelona’s Museum of Design (Jun 21-Sep 17), which will shine the spotlight on some of the artist’s ceramic works.
The Dalí Theatre and Museum in Figueres will host a major event in autumn when it displays for the first time one of the artist’s key works: Christ of Saint John of the Cross. The painting has been part of the collection of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow since 1952, and since arriving in Scotland has never returned to Spain.
Until recently, art by women made up only a tiny percentage of most exhibitions. Things have changed, and not to be missed in 2023 at the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (Macba) is an exhibition of the work of the pioneer of land art, Nancy Holt (Jun 29-Oct 29). Meanwhile, the Vila Casas Foundation’s Espais Volart will simultaneously shine a spotlight on Fina Miralles and Maria Girona (Sep 15-Jan 14). Not to be overlooked is the work of photographers Ilse Bing and Tina Modotti, at the KBr Barcelona Photo Centre (Feb 15-May 14 & Jun 6-Sep 3), nor the group of women artists who donated works to the Avui art archive at the Girona Art Museum (Feb to Dec). Meanwhile, Carmen Calvo’s work can be seen at the Picasso Museum (from Apr 13), that of Eugènia Balcells at the Cerdanyola Art Museum (Mar 8-Aug 31), while that of Eva Lootz will be on display at the Suñol Foundation (Sep to Jan).
Sadism and De Sade
The controversial Marquis is the star of the CCCB’s 2023 programme. Sade: Freedom or evil (May 10-Oct 15) will explore the legacy of the infamous libertine writer to show how his transgressive philosophy and revolutionary message has influenced cultural creation in the past hundred years since the surrealists rescued him from oblivion.
Plensa and López
The work of what many call the most international Catalan artist will feature in an exhibition at La Pedrera. Poetry of Silence (Mar 31-Jul 23) explores sculptor Jaume Plensa’s links with literature and language. The iconic Gaudí building will also host the first major solo exhibition in Barcelona of artist Antonio López (Sep 22-Jan 14).
It is strange that exhibitions of medieval art are so rare in Catalan museums when the country boasts of a wealth of treasures from the Middle Ages. That is set to change this year. The MNAC national art gallery will host the work of one of the great stars of Gothic painting, Lluís Borrassà (Feb 23-Jul 2). Meanwhile, in the exhibition Beasts (Mar 24-Dec 17), the Episcopal Museum of Vic will analyse the abundant presence of animals in medieval artwork and reveal their symbolic meanings.
Even less commonly seen in exhibitions are examples of art from the Catalan Baroque. Yet from May, the Diocesan and County Museum of Solsona will host Against the Baroque, showing the final moments of this artistic style as a major movement.
What would the world be like if Europe had never existed? The legacy of imperialism permeates the exhibition Cimarron Anti-Futurism (Oct 12- Jan 31), which aims to act as a loudspeaker for artistic activism committed to decolonisation at the Virreina Image Centre and the Santa Mònica arts centres.
What is it good for?
The Born Centre for Culture and Memory is entrusting its most ambitious exhibitions this year to contemporary artists. The exhibition Why war? (from Nov), which will feature the work of 10 creators, takes its title from a letter between Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud on the inevitability of war. The centre will also display a specially created large-format work by Barcelona-born artist Francesc Torres in its lobby.
A look in the mirror
The human face and body are among the most represented motifs in the history of art, and they are the subject to be explored in The Human Image (Jul 4-Oct 22), which CaixaForum has produced with one of its prestigious collaborators, the British Museum.
And so much more...
There is so much art this year it is impossible to list it all here. Some notable mentions include the joint project between the Girona Art Museum and the Museum of Empordà in Figueres on the discovery of the Costa Brava by artists from the end of the 19th century to the outbreak of war in 1936 (Apr-Sep).
Meanwhile, CaixaForum Barcelona will display 19th century portraits from the collection of Madrid’s Prado gallery (Feb 15-Jun 14), Joan Brossa’s concept of “paratheatre” will feature at the Liberal Arts Centre of the Brossa Foundation (Mar 15-Jul 16), Zush in Ibiza is the subject at the Suñol Foundation (Jan 27-May 20), while Marxist John Berger features at La Virreina (May 12-Oct 15).
Other exhibitions include Carlos Pazos at Can Framis (Feb 7-Jun 4), graffiti artist Tvboy at Disseny Hub Barcelona (Jul 5-Sep 10), a trip to the old Museum of Reproductions in Barcelona, opened in 1891, in the Sitges Museums (Nov 3-Apr 28), and the cycle of shows at the Abelló Museum in Mollet for the centenary of its founder, collector Joan Abelló.