Top 5 Public Sculptures to see in Barcelona

Barcelona is a city full of creativity. There is art around every corner, whether it be a beautiful building, colourful graffiti, an interesting event poster or an eccentric public sculpture. Artists seem to come from far and wide to get a taste of the creative force oozing out of the city. As a result, there is a lot of local and international art found throughout. 

This is especially true when it comes to Barcelona’s public artworks. There are many, many examples of all sorts of artworks dotted all over the city. A guide to all the best ones would be endless and so I have put together this list of my Top 5 Public Sculptures to see in Barcelona. While only one of the works on this list was designed by a Barcelona-born artist, each piece is adored by locals as an icon of their city. Read on to learn a little more about them!

1. Find yourself greeted with a smile at ‘La Gamba’ by Javier Mariscal

‘La Gamba’, or ‘The Shrimp’ is a quirky work created by Javier Mariscal. Mariscal is known to have a flair for bringing colour and interest into everyday life. And this is very much true of Barcelona’s favourite prawn!

‘La Gamba’. Image sourced from the Estudio Mariscal official website.

La Gamba was initially commissioned for a seafood restaurant named ‘Gambrinus’ and was completed in 1988. Sadly, the restaurant closed down a few years later. As La Gamba had become a notable icon, the Barcelona City Council made the decision to purchase the sculpture and restore it to its former glory. La Gamba remains in the same place for which he was intended, even though Gambrinus does not. 

Mariscal’s sketches of ‘La Gamba’. Image sourced from the Estudio Mariscal official website.

This ‘artistic intervention’ (as Estudio Mariscal terms it) is a friendly addition to the Port Vell area of Barcelona. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION
OPENING HOURS: 24 hours
ADDRESS: Ronda Litoral, 08039 Barcelona, Spain
Metro Station: Barceloneta

2. Marvel at the abstraction of Joan Miro’s ‘Woman and Bird’

If you are familiar with Spanish art, you must know of Joan Miró and his colourful work. Born in Barcelona in 1893, Miró was far ahead of his time when it came to his abstract, surrealist style. A few of his works can be found dotted around the city, though Woman and Bird is probably the most well-known public installation by Miró.

Joan Miró’s Dona I Ocell. Image by Martin Péchy, sourced from Pexels

The sculpture is located on one end of the Parc de Joan Miró. The piece was completed in 1983, right in the midst of great change for Barcelona and its creative, artistic community. The work includes many of Miró signature elements, including mosaic, primary and complimentary colours and abstracted symbolism. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION
OPENING HOURS: 24 hours
ADDRESS: Parc de Joan Miró, Carrer de Tarragona,08014 Barcelona
Metro Station: Tarragona

3. Grab an Insta-snap at the famously friendly ‘Cat’ by Fernando Botero

Fernando Botero is a Columbian artist, well known for his voluminous animal sculptures. Barcelona is lucky enough to be home to two of them. The first is located in Barcelona’s El Prat airport (terminal 2B) and is of a bronze horse.

The fat Cat, also fondly know as ‘El Gato Gordo’. Image by Lalupa, sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

The second Botero sculpture in Barcelona is The Cat. This piece came to Barcelona in 1987. It is now located in the Raval neighbourhood, though it has lived in many areas of the city.

The fat Cat, also fondly know as ‘El Gato Gordo’. Image by Lalupa, sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

Also crafted from bronze, this public artwork is hard not to adore. The friendly and cuddly nature of the animal, despite its solid material form, makes it a favourite among children and adults alike.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION
OPENING HOURS: 24 hours
ADDRESS: Rambla del Raval, 08001, Barcelona
Metro Station: Paral·lel, Liceu

During the early ‘90s, Barcelona underwent massive transformation in preparation for the 1992 Olympic Games. Many dilapidated areas of the city were restored and new energy was brought into them over this period. Art played a large role in the upliftment of such areas. The below two sculptures are now Barcelona icons, as a result of this effort.

4. Stand in awe under the dappled shadow of Frank Gehry’s ‘Peix’ (or ‘Fish’)

This sculpture by Canadian architect Frank Gehry is the largest public artwork on the list. It is an impressive 56 metres long and reaches 35 metres high. Like many of the contemporary public sculptures in Barcelona, Gehry created the Fish for the Olympic Games in 1992. The sculpture is typical of Gehry’s bold, shapely style.

Frank Gehry’s golden Fish.  Image by Isiwal, sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

Interwoven stainless steel strips create the golden mesh surface of the Fish. The sun bounces magically off these ‘scales’ and creates dancing reflections very similar to those that glisten off the ocean beside it.

Interwoven stainless steel strips make up the shape of the sculpture. Image by Ardfern, sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

The piece is a strange and wonderful addition to the city’s promenade.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION
OPENING HOURS: 24 hours
ADDRESS: Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta – Port Olímpic, 08005
Barcelona
Metro Station: Ciutadella Vila Olímpica

5. Wonder at the eclectic ‘Barcelona Face’ by Roy Lichtenstein

On the opposite end of the promenade, you will find an artwork by another famed artist from across the Atlantic Ocean. Roy Lichtenstein, the famous Pop Artist born in New York, is the name behind this one. The Barcelona City Council commissioned him to create the sculpture in the early 90s.

Roy Lichtenstein’s El Cap de Barcelona. Andy Mitchell from Glasgow, UK.

Lichtenstein designed the sculpture and Diego Delgado completed the piece in April, 1992. Lichtenstein found a lot of inspiration for his works from comics. You can find allusion to this in ‘Barcelona Face’ but in a more abstracted way than some of his other work. Also included are his characteristic ‘dots’, which pay reference to traditional printing methods. 

An interesting addition that is not so characteristic of Lichtenstein however, is the use of mosaics over much of the surface of the work. It is thought that this technique was incorporated as a homage to Barcelona’s beloved Gaudí.

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PRACTICAL INFORMATION
OPENING HOURS: 24 hours
ADDRESS: Moll de la Fusta – Mirador del Port Vell
Metro Station: Barceloneta