Barcelona is a treasure trove of art and architecture—and free champagne. No, seriously. Tag along on our gallery tour and you’ll experience some very cool art while clinking a glass or two of free Catalan cava or French champagne.
Calle de Petritxol 5, 08002
The best time to check out Sala Parés is on a Thursday afternoon, say around 7 PM. Located off Calle de Petritxol, a narrow street lined with galleries that runs parallel to Las Ramblas (Metro Liceu – Line 3- Green line), the space was founded in 1840 and is the oldest public commercial art gallery in Europe. In fact, it staged a young Picasso’s first public exhibition in 1901.
The gallery has three exhibition spaces showing off current work and pieces from 19th- and 20th-century collections. Time your drop-in right and you can catch an opening of recent work by one of the gallery’s esteemed stable of artists. For opening, the staff will—you guessed it!—be serving free cava and chilled white wine.
OK, keep up. Put that glass down – we’re off to the next stop…
Gracia Arts Project
Calle Sant Honorat, 11, 08002
To get from the oldest gallery to one of the city’s newest, stroll across the Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol onto Calle Banys Nous (and its antique shops), and turn onto Calle del Call, at the heart of what used to be the medieval city’s Jewish quarter. Finally, turn left onto Calle Sant Honorat, adjacent to the Generalitat (Catalonia’s government HQ), and—bingo!—you’ve found Gracia Arts Project.
Founded just two years ago, the G.A.P. is a small, friendly gallery showcasing fresh, vibrant works by an energetic, polyglot collective of Barcelona-based artists and designers. Again, if you attend on an opening night, you can snag another free glass of cava.
We’d better get out of here before it gets crowded – and it does get crowded.
Passeig de Gràcia
From G.A.P., it’s just a short walk to Via Laietana to catch the Metro (Line 4 – Yellow line) two stops to Passeig de Gràcia and over to Gaudì’s famous apartment building, La Pedrera.
Avoid the line for basic tours of the apartment building and head directly through the large ironwork gates on the corner, and up the beautifully decorated stairway (pictured at left) to the free exhibition space. Here, you can typically catch an expertly curated retrospective by an overlooked European artist, circa the 1920s or 30s.
No free drinks here today, but free exhibition notes in English abound. Make sure you look around at the details in Gaudì’s molded ceilings and columns.
Ready? Time to go. The exhibition closes at 8 PM here. Last stop…
Calle Rosellò, 193, 08036
Time it right and arrive by 8:20 PM to catch another fun opening. The place is usually packed with a good mix of artists, buyers, collectors, curators and critics, and two very welcoming hosts, Joaquim and Alfredo, who like to serve up free Piper Heidsieck French champagne and snacks.
The work here at MiTO is cutting edge. Work is created by known international artists from cities like New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, and Valencia (to name a few).
Also at MiTO, help yourself to a few free catalogues of previous shows. I recommend Brian Dettmer’s The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a beautifully crafted “look-book” filled with some incredible stuff. They are all neatly stacked on shelves near the glass entrance door.
What did you think?
Did you enjoy the tour? Four very different art spaces, two centuries of art, and six centuries of architecture (not to mention free cava and champagne) in two hours before dinner, and all for free! Nice way to work up an appetite, don’t you think? Let us know in the comment section below.