Espai Carme Thyssen

The exhibition

Cities and inhabited places


Barcelona-Paris-New York. From Urgell to O'Keeffe

Carmen Thyssen Collection

The exhibition shows the evolution of the city representation from the Romanticism to the Avant-gardes. The three metropolises on the title are a clear example of that.

In order to deal with this topic, the aesthetic influences and the artists’ personalities explain the transition between the 19th and the 20th century: from the rural world to the life in the city and the changing society. Barcelona, Paris and New York are the main characters and the people who live in them, too. These citizens, who are absorbed by the noise of the city, look for the intimacy, whether in a domestic space or a garden.

The exhibition in detail

Exhibition's tour

  • I. Waking up to a new world

    I. Waking up to a new world

    With the arrival of modern times, Romanticism creates the paradigm of a world that is a result of the individual's spiritual reencounter with nature essentials. The rural world gives way to the Industrial revolution as a result of the everyday life and the environment change. 

    . Room 1. The artist portrays the changes of the new environment that appears due to the industrialisation in his quiet landscapes. The appearance of light will start changing everyday social habits.

    Works by Urgell, Meifrèn, Luce...


  • II. Barcelona: a vibrant city

    II. Barcelona: a vibrant city

    The organisation of 1888 Barcelona Universal Exhibition shows the world a modern city with a cosmopolitan atmosphere. A new horizon of progress and prosperity took an optimistic view of the future. Barcelona inhabitants witness the urban changes and the spreading of new lifestyles, forms of leisure and social relationships, which coexisted with the traditional way of life. 

    . Room 2. During the second half of the 19th century, Barcelona can be seen as a metropolitan city that will consolidate its international vocation during the early decades of the 20th century. 

    Works by Pursals, Pellicer, Sanvicens...


  • III. Paris: eternal moments

    III. Paris: eternal moments

    In the 19th century, a hundred years after being a political revolution model of its time, Paris wanted to be the most modern world city. Until the middle of the 20th century, Paris will be the centre of the occidental art with an artists' community living there and schools related to some of the most important painters of the time.

    . Room 3.  The history, the streets and some of Paris most emblematic buildings will be immortalized in the canvas of the artists, who were attracted to the City of Lights.

    Works by Pissarro, Puigaudeau, Amat


  • IV. Behind closed doors

    IV. Behind closed doors

    It can be seen from the streets shows to the privacy of homes, from the unceasing movement to the peace and quiet. The inhabitants open their doors and share their rooms with the spectators, their most private everyday life, which wakes up the poetic of spaces. The human being is the lead role of history, the individual who lives in a community, both in the city and at home. 

     . Room 4. Home interiors, feminine and private spaces, offer the chance to coexist in complicity. Desires beyond everyday life are fully expressed by both interior and exterior relationships. 

    Works bu Holsoe, Barrau, Lobre...

    . Room 5. Comforting peace is sought at home, which is opposed to the hectic pace of the metropolis. The woman is the protagonist. The last room of home leads us to the garden, to reminiscence and admire the landscape.

    Works by Corot, Morisot, Pruna...

    . Sala 6.  Flowers are the protagonists among the organised nature of the domestic gardens. Both inside and outside home, these flowers foresee the spiritual rest that can be found in the garden.

    Works by Monet, Meifrèn, Kokoschka...


  • V. New York: cosmopolitan effect

    V. New York: cosmopolitan effect

    New York changes in the 19th century: it becomes the biggest city in the United States in 1835. The artists find inspiration in everyday scenes and portray the changing city, which is a paradigm on modernisation during most of the 20th century. 

    . Room 7.  During the growth of the metropolis, Immigration and neighbourhood relationships had an impact on leisure activities. 

    Works by Brown, Kuhn, Pène du Bois...

    . Room 8. Urban geography connects the artists from abstraction up to hyperrealism and photorealism.

    Works by O'Keeffe, Estes, Nesbitt...