This Barcelona Hotel Gives Guests Unprecedented Access to the Work of Catalan Painter Joan Miró
It was my first time to Barcelona, and apart from doing all the requisite touristy things — visiting La Sagrada Familia, wandering around Parc Güell, strolling Las Ramblas — I knew I wanted to learn more about the renowned Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramicist Joan Miró.
I’d encountered Miró’s works at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Tate Modern in London, as well as in my adopted hometown, New York City, where several of his early sketches and still lifes are on view at the Museum of Modern Art. But the prospect of seeing his ornamental, abstract forms and spare configurations in the city of his birth promised to be uniquely thrilling.
I started researching the best places to discover his works and was surprised when my search led me to The Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona, a stately, 100-year grand dame on the Passeig de Gràcia. Back in the day, Miró was a frequent visitor to the hotel’s bar, where he would sit and gaze longingly at a painting in the lobby by his tutor, Modest Urgell.
Fast-forward to 2018 and the hotel continues to celebrate this cultural legacy through amenities and programming that offers unprecedented access to the artist’s work and institutions. Modest Urgell’s melancholy landscape still greets you when you enter the lobby. And at Fundació Joan Miró, the Josep Lluís Sert-designed institution that Miró bequeathed to the city in 1971, guests can enjoy complimentary, after-hours trips the museum, as well as access to a private gallery that is otherwise closed to the public.
For those wanting to explore further afield, Majestic can also coordinate guided day trips to Fundació Mas Miró, the artist’s childhood home in Mont-roig, about two and a half hours from Barcelona.
“All my work is conceived in Mont-roig,” Miró once said about the bucolic estate, where he returned every summer, whether from Paris, Barcelona, or Palma. Students of Miró will immediately recognize the property’s white, colonial-style buildings and Mediterranean landscape from paintings including La Masia (The Farm), Mont-roig, El Pont (Mont-roig, The Bridge), and La Casa de la Palmera (House With Palm Tree).
Through Majestic, I got the opportunity to tour the just-opened farmhouse and studio, which has been kept in perfect shape since Miró’s last visit in June 1976. The main home features original wicker furniture, oil paintings, and beds dressed in threadbare sheets, while the bathrooms are still stocked with old toiletries and washcloths. Even more astounding than seeing such intimate items on display was stepping into the private guest quarters where notable guests like Ernest Hemingway, Vassili Kandinski, and Alexander Calder once stayed. But nothing compared to the astonishment I felt as I was shown around the light-filled studio, where paint-smattered smocks and used brushes give the impression that Miró has merely stepped out for a stroll around the garden.
Back in Barcelona, I learned of The Majestic’s most impressive undertaking yet: the restoration of a massive tapestry on view at the Fundació Joan Miró. Hanging at an astonishing 24 by 16 feet, the colossal work depicts Miro’s iconic stars and moons rendered in jute, hemp, and wool, and is the last in a series of three to still be on public display. Woman was taken out of rotation at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 2003 and the World Trade Center Tapestry was destroyed during the 9/11 terrorist attack.
And now, thanks to the generosity of the Soldevila-Casals family, owners of The Majestic since the hotel's inception, the Tapestry of the Fundació will be given a new life.
"We've always been closely connected to the art world," the family said in a statement. "As 2018 marks our centennial year, we wanted to raise funds for the conservation of the tapestry and pay homage to one of our most illustrious guests, the great Joan Miró."