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Mercury Fountain in Barcelona

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Mercury Fountain in Barcelona

The work of cubists, surrealists and followers of other trends in the art of the early 20th century is not considered modern art these days - it is already universally recognized classics with their masters in each trend. However, it is the fine art of this period that is closely related to the work of artists of the XXI century.

You may not like or understand modern painting, but every encounter with it is always surprising. In any era, there are people who are able to step outside the ordinary and allow you to see the world from a new perspective. The famous Catalan artist Joan (Juan) Miro created his fund-museum in such a way that contemporary creators of different directions could work and exhibit here.

Joan Miró Museum: traffic lights caressing birds, photographs and white Lego houses

The Joan Miró Foundation Museum Complex was built for his friend by the architect Josep Luis Sert in 1975. Around the green Spanish courtyard there are small white buildings of exhibition centers, with right angles and the same curves that resemble children's houses from a construction set. The building is located in a park on the Montjuic mountain.

Joan Miró is one of the most expensive artists in the world. His surreal canvases are perfectly combined with the pretentious interiors of expensive villas, banks and hotels. The Barcelona Museum Foundation owns 14,000 works by the artist, many of which were donated to the foundation by the author.

On the open terrace is the famous ironic sculpture "The Caress of the Bird", made of painted bronze. The female image with a bird's head, assembled from everyday objects, reflects the author's reflections on the topic of female sexuality.

In the halls intended for temporary exhibitions, exhibitions of paintings by artists from all over the world, photo exhibitions, installations of varying complexity are held, and musical events are also held.

In addition to paintings and sculptures by Miro, the museum contains many of his drawings and works from ceramics. The permanent exhibition also includes the creation of the American sculptor Alexander Calder "The Fountain of Mercury".

Mercury fountain: beautiful splashes of liquid metal

The Caldera Mercury Fountain was commissioned by the Spanish government for the pavilion at the 1937 World's Fair in Paris. The Spaniards decided to participate in the World Exhibition, despite the civil war and pursuing opposite goals: to tell the world about the horrors of war and declare the strength and vitality of the republic.

While the USSR and Germany competed, exhibiting the achievements of science and technology, Spain sought support in the Spanish tradition. In front of the Soviet pavilion, the optimistic "Worker and Collective Farm Woman" flaunted, the German pavilion was a predatory eagle with a swastika, and in the Spanish was Picasso's Guernica and the Caldera mercury fountain.

The strange choice of the contents of the fountain is also associated with the traditional way of life in Spain: the mines of cinnabar, from which mercury is extracted, existed on its territory for thousands of years. Mercury has been used for centuries as a medicine, a rejuvenating agent, as a component in many production cycles. The civil war, which halted the cinnabar mines and mercury production facilities, took a huge toll on the Spanish economy.

Mercury in 1937 was perceived only as a valuable product of the industry, necessary in its various fields, including the production of weapons. They learned about its deadly properties later, so the fountain was calmly put on public display opposite Guernica. The fountain is a small container lined with marble tiles along the edge. Thin metal structures are installed above it: a thin trickle of mercury passes along curved grooves and hits the metal plate. Throwing a few sparkling sprays onto the tiles, the mercury flows into the container of the fountain. A jet of cold liquid metal, making its way along the metal curves, creates a beautiful, unusual sight.

There are 3 inscriptions on the tiles of the fountain:

  • Mercury
  • Spain
  • Almaden.

"Mercury" is the name of the fountain, possibly inspired by the association of expensive mercury, the property of Spain with the ancient god of trade, and Almaden is a Spanish city where cinnabar was traditionally mined.

After the World Exhibition, the mercury fountain moved to Spain and exhibited in Barcelona. In the 50s of the XX century, mankind finally juxtaposed numerous deaths and diseases with the use of mercury, and the poisonous fountain was covered with a glass sarcophagus. Now the fountain is in the Joan Miró Museum, covered with glass, but some tourists are still nervous, not entirely trusting the protection.

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