What to visit / Barcelona, district by district / Horta-Guinardó / Mistos (Matches), Claes Oldenburg

Mistos (Matches), Claes Oldenburg

Silhouetted against the Barcelona sky, a series of giant matches protrude from their packaging. One of them burns with a bluish flame; others are scattered on the ground. They stand opposite the Pavilion of the Republic and have become one of Barcelona's most iconic images.

The Swedish artist Claes Oldenburg was commissioned to create this sculpture during the Olympic period and he chose an everyday object as commonplace as the match as his subject matter. Standing 22 metres high, these huge "matches" protrude in higgledy-piggledy fashion from a matchbook cover. The pop artist plays with the size of an object as insignificant as the match and raises it to an art form. The red and yellow matches seem to leap out of the matchbook cover and some are scattered on the ground. One is still burning with a bluish flame.

The sculpture was made from multi-coloured metal and cement in 1992, and decorates the former Olympic site of the Vall d'Hebrón. It is an attractive, fun landmark that is in perfect harmony with the area reconstructed for the Olympic Games which had been somewhat isolated and forgotten until then. The dynamic sculptural ensemble gives its surroundings character and fully ties in with the pop aesthetic that draws inspiration from the world of comics and advertising. These "matches" cannot go unnoticed.

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