Miquel Barcelo’s Bizarre Sci-Fi Stalactite Ceiling

This is the funniest line I’ve read in a while..and the fact that it is about a $23 million ceiling by Miquel Barcelo makes it that much funnier:

Miguel Zugaza, director of the Museo del Prado, defined the artwork as ” Barcelo’s most important and the best public art project made by Spain in several decades.” He continued saying, “More than the Sistine Chapel, the dome is more like the ones by Manet and the one by Rothko, and above all the one in Altamira.” (ArtDaily)

Hell, why not call it the greatest thing on earth, maybe they could say it is as beautiful as if the Parthenon, the Pyramids of Giza and Great Wall of China were having an orgy in the Bilbao Guggenheim.

Kotke has a strange take on it but at least his assessment sounds honest and not like PR (though I don’t understand how he can say it is powerful when he has only experienced it via a photo):

The painting isn’t exactly aesthetically beautiful, but I love its scale and power. Wonderful.

From what I can see I don’t think it is impressive as much as another sign of cultural hubris. Maybe some Spanish officials and culturatti like the idea of the UN meeting in the Batcave or maybe they take the metaphor of the cave from Plato’s Republic far too seriously. Either way the work looks unfinished and more at home on the ceiling of a nightclub rather than the Room of Human Rights and the Alliance of Civilisations at the United Nations building in Geneva, Switzerland.

As for how the artist described the work:

…Barcelo told the press that his 16,000-square-foot ceiling artwork reminded him of “an image of the world dripping toward the sky” (FoxNews)

Then he jumbles up his metaphors and images (much like the Prado director) in what sounds like a desperate attempt to explain his artistic ego trip:

“The cave is a metaphor for the agora, the first meeting place of humans, the big African tree under which to sit to talk, and the only possible future: dialogue, human rights.” (USAToday)

And just when you think Barcelo can’t bullshit anymore:

Barcelo said he intended to create a “grotto” with multi-coloured stalactites hanging off the ceiling to reflect “infinity and the multiplicity of viewpoints”.

“This space, it’s a sort of science-fiction. It’s like an Intergalactic Council, with totally different people and languages and utterly opposed viewpoints,” Barcelo told AFP in an interview. (GulfTimes)

One last juicy tidbit:

[Spanish Prime Minister] Zapatero…tried to keep the cost of the controversial project secret. But he was forced to come clean after Spanish newspapers published exclusive photos of the final product just a week before it was to be unveiled. (The Brussels Journal)

6 responses to “Miquel Barcelo’s Bizarre Sci-Fi Stalactite Ceiling”

  1. Oly Avatar


    Thing’s so ugly, it’s mama probably don’t even think it’s cute.


  2. hv Avatar

    It’s obvious they are trying to justify something that was a bad decision. It looks like something at Disney World.

  3. libhomo Avatar

    The work looks really interesting from the photos, but the PR engages in extreme hyperbole.

  4. hv Avatar

    I guess the question is the budget and the ideology (if any) behind it.

  5. Oly Avatar

    I really wouldn’t feel safe sitting under all that.
    Maybe it’s a way to get people to vote hastily– because they’re scared of being in the room.

  6. […] image reminded me of the recent Miquel Barcelo’s bizarrely colorful stalactite ceiling for the Room of Human Rights and the Alliance of Civilisations at the United Nations building in […]

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