Review

The Art Lover’s Guide to Barcelona – Ruby Boukabou

Joanna Kaszubowska 13 May 2024 min Read

Barcelona is a wonderful city, with more than enough attractions to keep you busy, no matter how long you come for, or what your interest is. But what if you are an art lover, but would like to go beyond the usual UNESCO route of works by Antoni Gaudí? Do not fret! Ruby Boukabou has got you covered with her newest Art Lover’s Guide to Barcelona published by White Owl.

Barcelona art guide: Joan Miró, The Morning Star from Constellations, 1940, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain.

Joan Miró, The Morning Star from Constellations, 1940, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain.

At first glance, it seems like one of those guides to avoid. With the colorful cover and a bright red title banner, it seems like another one of the run-of-the-mill guides you can find in any airport or museum shop. The first few pages do confirm that impression, as the guide starts, very traditionally, with a quick overview of the city’s art history through the ages, some practical tips, and an itinerary of 36 hours in Barcelona.

Barcelona art guide: Sixe Paredes, Untitled, 2010. Drouot.

Sixe Paredes, Untitled, 2010. Drouot.

That first impression is quickly corrected because the heart of the book is the chapters dedicated to exploring the art. Boukabou introduces us to the city’s leading art institutions. She goes beyond just museums, throwing art galleries and foundations into the mix. While one cannot omit names such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, or Antoni Gaudí when writing about art in Barcelona, there is also a great section about street art, which is something unique to Barcelona (or was until around 2002; then life got more difficult, as you will find out from the book).

Barcelona art guide: BTOY, All in Form. Pretty Portal.

BTOY, All in Form. Pretty Portal.

The last part of the book takes us completely into the realm of contemporary art. It is filled with interviews with artists residing in Barcelona (some of their works are featured in this article), practical photography and art-buying tips, as well as an art diary. Throughout the book, Ruby Boukabou encourages you to explore art with your eyes but also participate in creating it. You can do it by simply taking out your sketchpad and drawing or attending an art class (in Barcelona typically accompanied by wine and some tapas).

Barcelona art guide: Antoni Gaudí, Casa Vicens, 1883–1888, Barcelona, Spain. Mobles 114.

Antoni Gaudí, Casa Vicens, 1883–1888, Barcelona, Spain. Mobles 114.

Even if you have been to Barcelona before, with this guide you are bound to find something new to explore, especially if you are interested in street and contemporary art. This is one of those guides that encourages you to do more than sightsee—it invites you to experience the city with all the senses. That said, you should still save some time to see the classics: Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, Casa Vicens, or Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau.

You can get a copy of Ruby Boukabou’s Art Lover’s Guide to Barcelona on the publisher’s website.

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