“The Barcelona Face” by Roy Lichtenstein is the theme of this fridge magnet
One of the more surprising and popular pieces of public art in Barcelona is the “Barcelona Face,” designed by North American artists Roy Lichtenstein. Standing an impressive fifteen meters in height and overlooking the re-developed Port Vell neighborhood, the Face elicits strong opinions (both for and against) amongst both visitor and resident alike. The sculpture was erected for the 1992 Summer Olympic Games to serve as a “letter of introduction” from the city to the world. Lichtenstein is known as a “Pop Artist” and gained his fame in the 1960s along with Andy Warhol. His work drew heavily upon the American tradition of comic book art, which he used with great success to make parody of the stuffy, formalized art world. For the “Face,” Lichtenstein drew heavily upon the style and methods of Barcelona's most famous architect – Antoni Gaudí – especially in its use of tiled mosaics. One can also see the influence of another Barcelona artist: Joan Miró's surrealistic abstraction of the human form. Miró's desire to “assassinate painting” was a precursor of Lichtenstein's inversion of the norms of the art world. The construction of the Face was part of a larger attempt in the early 1990s to revive Barcelona's waterfront, including the construction of other nearby sites: the Museu d'Història de Catalunya (the Museum of the History of Catalonia), the city acquarium (Europe's largest), and the Port Vell Imax Theater. The neighborhood lies at the end of Barcelona's most popular tourist road, the Rambla. Along the Rambla, visitors are delighted by human statues, vendors selling flowers and birds and, of course, numerous souvenir stalls. A pavement mosaic by Miró can be found roughly halfway up the Rambla from Port Vell.