Magical Barcelona enchants the sculpture network travellers

The entire sculpture network tour in Barcelona from 28th to the 31st of March this year was simply an impressive Experience in itself. The 20 participants in the group were accompanied by the curator Sandy Brunner. She was our very competent and specialist-in-her-field tour leader, enabled us to gain insights into aspects that only very few are privileged to experience. Ranging from a sumptuous 7 course meal in an artist’s workshop, to the sculptural living quarters of an eccentric of the art scene, through to the revelry of a seafood feast in Barcelona’s top tourist attraction, La Paradeta – we revelled in both culture and pleasure!

Exploring the historic centre of the city was first up on day one. Sandy Brunner’s guidance at  the Fundació Enric Miralles enabled us to delve into the life and works of this famous artist. Miralles contributed greatly to Barcelona achieving its reputation as the capital of architecture, especially through his designing of the Mercat de Santa Catarina. After a short intermezzo of sparkling wine, cheese and strongly smoked ham, the group happily made its way towards dinner.

FundaciĂł Enric Miralles

The second day began with a further heavy-weight of the Catalonian architecture scene: Ricardo Bofill. Walden 7 is a futuristic looking, sculptural construction, which gives the impression that the jet engines are about to ignite and thrust the housing complex up to the stars. This feeling was further supported by the presence of a film crew. The appearance of their costumes left no doubt that they were part of the plot!

While on our way we came across another film scene, at least mentally, a short time later. One or other of you can possibly remember the scene featuring Scarlett Johansson in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The film, made in 2008 and directed by Woody Allen, takes one in a small car down a narrow lane.  At the end of the lane stands the house of Barcelona’s relatively unknown artist, Xavier Corbero.  During the last 15 years he transformed this 50 year-old house into a sculpture in concrete. After his sudden death two years ago, the construction work stopped completely. Since his death, the deserted construction site has become a much loved event location for famous companies such as BMW and SEAT.

In the old living area of the house, photos lie around showing him with Dali and Picasso, and almost everybody who had played any sort of role in the art world of the second half of the 20th century. Cobero’s widow tells the anecdote of a phone call from Dali and how Corbero hung up on him. Corbero was only 18 years of age at the time and an unknown person had just bought the complete works of art of his first exhibition. Corbero had thought that the phone call was a hoax.

Sandy Brunner with Marco Romero

At lunch the group found themselves in unusual surroundings.  On the top floor of an artist’s house, two artists, Miguel Aparici and Marco Romero, had found themselves a niche for themselves. The area had been used for private cooking evenings for the residents of the house, but the two artists developed this idea into a business concept. Seven course meals eaten while standing, and that in an artist’s studio – with masses of time to wander around, to observe and to discuss. A sales model for the future? We can at least say that one purchase was made. The experience in the artist’s studio still remains, even in this digital age, the most important space for interaction.

Jaume Plensa Exhibition at the MACBA

After a short visit to the Jaume Plensa Exhibition in MACBA , we progressed on to an exquisite dinner.

The third and final day of our trip brought us to the world famous FundaciĂł Joan Miro. This impressive construction houses the works of the most significant collection of the artist.
This museum, in itself a constructional work of art created by Josep Lluís, was seen at the time of its official opening in 1975, as one of the most progressive museum buildings of that time. For the active avant-garde architectural elite working in the background while Franco was in power, the death of the Generalissimo in 1975 was seen as the starting signal of a good-hearted competition which would see Barcelona develop to become one of the capitals of architecture.  This reached its climax with the Olympic Games in 1992.

FundaciĂł Joan Miro

Equally impressive is the Barcelona-Pavilion, which was a temporary construction designed by the German-American star architect Ludwig Mies van Rohe for the 1929 World Exhibition. This construction also helped Barcelona to achieve its world architectural status. The Barcelona-Pavilion has now been newly rebuilt.

Our final port of call was, after a short meander through the Caixa Forum, the workshops of the artists Frank Plant and Samuel Salcedo.
Plant left the USA quite early and then made Barcelona his home.  His works are influenced by people close to him and are partly highly political and socially critical.  Plant’s Sketches in Steel were always sawn by hand and masterpieces both of craftsmanship and art. His newly acquired plasma cutting machine made it possible for him to produce in series as well as to explore new types of materials.  Nevertheless, again and again, he returned to using a hand-saw so as not to, as he said, lose the ability to form his own works of art.

In contrast to Frank Plant, Samuel Salcedo was born in Barcelona and has always lived there, apart from a short break away to study in Manchester, England.
Salcedo’s sculptural works are technically of the highest standard. His exceptional talent becomes apparent through the various materials (resin, wood, aluminium, polyester) used and the perfectionism of the painting of his works. This results in giving his works almost an impression of hyperrealism.
His works surprised us, the beholders, again and again with and by their subtle irony and, at the same time, their vulnerability.

The sculpture network group in Frank Plant and Samuel Salcedo's studio

Already exhausted, one last hurdle stood before us. The visit to Barcelona’s acclaimed fish diner La Paradeta. Without a reservation and twenty minutes before opening time, we waited bravely to be let in. After a somewhat nerve racking and complicated process to place our order, our waiting was more than worthily rewarded, as one lady in our group commented: “This is the best sea-food experience I’ve had in my life!”

Completely content and satisfied, we worked our way towards our beds. Beforehand many words of thanks were given to our brilliant tour leader, Sandy Brunner.
All in all it was genuinely a most successful Experience – and we are looking forward to further fantastic experiences in Venice (27-30 June, and 22-25 August, 2019). Join us!



Autor: André Kirberg


André Kirberg is Managing Director
of sculpture network service GmbH.
He accompanied the group through Barcelona
and was overwhelmed by the positive reactions of the participants.


Cover picture: Espacio Xavier Corbero. Photos: André Kirberg


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