{Spain} Museu Europeu d’Art Modern

June 4, 2012


Here’s the thing – I’m not a huge art fan (shock confession). I find sculpture quite interesting, and I absolutely LOVE photography, but given the choice I prefer museums filled with “stuff” over those filled with paintings. And I’ve especially never really made friends with contemporary art. So I never would have chosen to visit the Museu Europeu d’Art Modern (MEAM), had it not been featured in Adopt-a-Museum. Maria Villalba, who lives in Barcelona, had wanted to champion her local museum, which at less than a year old is still very new on the Barcelona art scene, and she did a very good job of it. My, admittedly preconceived, idea of contemporary art is a lot of obscure abstract pieces on oversized canvasses and bizarre video art that I will find it hard to relate to. But in her adoption, Maria said that it was important to the museum’s creators “to highlight that contemporary art is not only abstract art”, and its main purpose is to exhibit contemporary figurative art, i.e. “artwork clearly derived from real object sources” (1). Okay, I thought, it might not be so bad. Add to that the fact the museum was located in a magnificent renovated 18th century palace which, according to Maria, is an “important part of the museum’s beauty in the surprising collection”. And I was pleasantly surprised, in fact, I really enjoyed my visit.

You enter the museum through the beautiful courtyard of the Palau Gomis, one of the most important palaces from the late 18th century Napoleonic Barcelona. The collection then stretches over three floors, showing a total of around 230 artworks by around 200 different artists from around the world, so there’s certainly a lot to see for your money (the admission fee is 7 Euro). All of the artworks are by active artists and have been created in the 20th and 21st centuries. As Maria explains, the museum works hand in hand with the Foundation of the Arts and Artists, an arts foundation that holds annual competitions to discover new artistic talents, making MEAM not a place to “admire the most renowned names”, but to “appreciate new artists and their means of communication”. Sure, there were a couple of obscure pieces, and plenty of giant oversized canvasses, but I found the majority of artworks very accessible, including a fair amount of portraits showing people from all walks of life, a couple of cute bulldogs and some artistic nudes. One painting that I particularly liked was by Maximilan Pfalzgraf, a painter who happens to be from Berlin, entitled ‘La Torre’ (the tower), which shows a toddler on a beach next to the most elaborate sandcastle you can imagine, with scaffolding, cranes and all – no pressure then, #MuseumBaby ;-)

The majority of artworks are paintings, though there are also a couple of photographic pieces and some ink and pencil sketches, as well as probably around two dozen sculptures. Two sculptures that particularly had me marvel were a pink marble carving of a baby and a piglet curled up together (“Antroporcino” by Spanish stone carver Gerard Mas), and two heads which had been assembled one by one from 4289 cut out sheets of paper (“Sinergia” by Spanish sculptor Abraham Nevado). Absolutely amazing!

If, like me, the idea of contemporary art has always made you feel a little bit uneasy, then MEAM is the perfect introduction for you. As the museum says on its website, where other museums, art foundations or institutions’ concept of contemporary art is that of experimentation with abstraction and video art, MEAM “donar aixopluc a artistes que practiquen l’art figuratiu” – it gives shelter to artists who do figurative art. As it’s a relatively new museum, I hadn’t actually seen it mentioned in any guide books or travel apps, so without Adopt-a-Museum I never would have known about it. So next time you find yourself in Barcelona, why not head down to the Palau Gomis and visit MEAM. For a sneak preview, you can also visit their website, where you can go on a virtual visit.


(1) Source: Wikipedia; other sources include Maria Villalba on the Adopt-a-Museum website, and the MEAM website, as indicated.

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4 Responses to “{Spain} Museu Europeu d’Art Modern”

  1. MEAM Says:

    Thank you for your review. We just wanted to precise that there are no photographies exposed at the MEAM, and they are all paintings (with different techniques).

    Best Regards,



    • Jenni Fuchs Says:

      Thanks for the correction – that just shows how amazingly realistic the paintings are! Best wishes, Jenni



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