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Joan Miro Foundation, Park Montjuic

Barcelona, Spain

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If you are into traveling, chances are you are into cities (or nature, or both). If you are into cities, chances are you are into architecture. If you are into architecture, chances are you are into art. If you are into art, you would appreciate a good art exhibition, at a good museum, designed by a great architect, located in a great city. That is The Joan Miro Foundation in Barcelona, more specifically located in Montjuic, which also was a nice location, not right in the city but a couple of blocks away from it, situated on a hill side and surrounded by green areas and great views. I can't help to think of some of my friends who just can not stand cities or others who won't remember the last time they went to a museum. I personally see it as an investment, something to do for your mind every now and then. It may take an hour or two of complete nonsense (for you) art pieces, contemporary/minimalist abstractions nobody really cares about (and nobody should), or even worse, bad curated art exhibits that you had to pay for to suffer. Of course, when it is an artist like Joan Miro I find it hard to ruin even with a really bad curator. Miro's work is obsessive, broad, intricate, overwhelming at times, definitely enjoyable, specially if you thought you knew about him and his work, these exhibitions always show you more. In any case, what I always find is that in every museum (and I've been lucky enough to visit many of them) you always find that one piece that sticks to your mind, feeds your creativity, inspires you in some way, and ultimately leaves you with that feeling of having seen something completely new that you never imagined someone had done before or that it even existed. And in my mind, that is a good feeling for almost anybody, no matter what you do, preach or care about in this world. It's a human condition. That piece for me was of course one I couldn't take a picture of, I should have, but for some good reason I didn't. Miro made this gigantic rug titled "Tapestry of the Foundation", 5 x7.5 meters, mixed of different wool thread thicknesses, colors, textures and "patterns", a piece that I find makes a huge statement. In my mind - my ignorant Miro's critic like mind - it's interesting that he actually replicates the shapes and forms he works out in two dimensions and brings it to a different media, materials, and adds a third dimension to it. What it means, or what I wonder is weather or not this piece shows and represents the way Miro looked at his own colors, shapes and patters in terms of volume, hierarchy and texture, how they appeared to be in his mind even when he put it in two dimensions, on oil and canvas. That was the one piece that delighted me the most. But there is one more thing that is interesting about this whole place. The Joan Miro Foundation was designed by Josep Luis Sert, a major and accomplished Spanish architect, who's simplicity and clarity in design allow art to shine. The architecture is silent and almost disappear, humbly doing the job, serving its function, which I appreciate. But here's the one criticism I have. Like many other (many, many others) museums, this building has a big gesture when it comes to natural light. The entire roof terrace and roofs have skylights to bring light in almost every room and on top of that, they are a very important part of the volumetric composition and exterior "look" of the project. Well, guess what? Like many other museums, here as well, this skylights are covered from the inside so that no natural light comes in, instead no light at all is allowed, so that the artificial lighting specific for each piece actually works for the visitors and the art. I've seen it in the Museum of Modern Art in Bogota by Rogelio Salmona, In the Getty Center in Los Angeles by Richard Meier, Museums in Spain, France, China, Brazil, Argentina. Are we missing something here about the cliche or automatic thinking in that Natural light is a great element of architecture, but ignoring the reality of the museum space and what art pieces really need? Certainly, this doesn't just happen at the Joan Miro Foundation. Maybe that's why there are projects like the caixa forum by Herzog and De Meuron, the hermetic boxes some architects have come up with in the last few years; there may be a reason for it and that is understanding the real role a museum should play in the exhibition of art.
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