By Andrew Mead
At the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, until
20 January 2008
What comes to mind when you think of Barcelona around 1900? Gaudí, of course. And perhaps that showpiece street, Passeig de Gràcia, where in swift succession are three idiosyncratic houses by Gaudí and his two key architect contemporaries – Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch. That trio of buildings does appear, but not till halfway through this show installed on all three levels of Kisho Kurokawa’s extension to the Van Gogh Museum. ‘Barcelona 1900’ is not what you expect.
It opens with a series of enlarged period postcards (mostly cityscapes) and Ildefons Cerdà’s famous 1856 plan of the gridded Eixample extension to Barcelona’s medieval core – so far, so familiar. But the winding route after that takes in the influence of Paris on Spanish artists, the Catalonian passion for Wagner, the jewellery of Lluís Masriera, and the role of the magazine L’Avenc (Progress), alongside some street scenes in which Picasso’s Blue Period Barcelona at Night stands out.