The pop Matches of Barcelona
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
'For many years Barcelona has had one of the world's most ambitious urban planning programs, interrelating architecture, parks, plazas, and outdoor works of sculpture. When we visited the city in 1986 in response to an invitation to become part of the program, we toured installations by Eduardo Chillida, Richard Serra, and Ellsworth Kelly. By the time we joined the program, it had been expanded for the 1992 Olympics to include work by an international array of architects, among them Arata Isozaki, Gae Aulenti, Richard Meier, and Frank O. Gehry.
Most of the new projects were located near the waterfront and the city center, but we were more interested in the residential areas being developed for the Olympic Games that would afterward become new neighborhoods. As our site we chose an open space in the Vall d'Hebron section in the hills overlooking the city. The only other cultural landmark in the vicinity was to be a reconstruction of the pavilion for the Spanish Republic designed by José Luís Sert for the Paris World's Fair of 1937, the building in which Picasso's Guernica first was shown. Our proposal was a 68-foot-high sculpture based on a matchbook cover. Folded back so that the cover formed a base, the matches were bent, as if by use, with the exception of one erect, flaming match. Loose matches, some "burnt," were scattered over the site. The front view of the Matches is reminiscent of the facade of Antoni Gaudí's cathedral of the Sagrada Familia, while the base recalls the underpinning of the untitled Chicago Picasso.' Two models of the work belong to the MACBA Collection.