Culture 16/10/2021

Moco, the museum for celebrity artists, opens in Barcelona

Two Dutch collectors open a new centre with works by Damien Hirst, Warhol and Banksy

3 min
Man, sweet man' by Banksy

BarcelonaSinger George Michael started collecting contemporary art when he met some of the controversial Young British Artists, such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. The experts who auctioned his collection at Christie's for charity after his death explained that it was common for visual artists and creators from the world of fashion and music to coincide at the same parties.

George Michael had The Immaculate Heart - Sacred by Hirst, one of the artist's signature animal offal pieces - in this case an ox heart and pigeon wings. It was bought by the couple formed by Lionel and Kim Logchies and it is the work that will receive the public from today onwards at the museum that these two Dutch collectors have opened in Barcelona, the Moco Museum, the second one after the one they have in Amsterdam, near the Van Gogh Museum, which is smaller than the one in Barcelona.

Damien Hirst's 'The Immaculate Heart: Sacred'

A stately and medieval venue

Barcelona's Moco Museum is housed in the former Palau Cervelló, on Carrer Montcada, a few metres away from the Picasso Museum and the Ethnological and World Cultures Museum, and opens with around thirty works by big names such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Takashi Murakami, David LaChapelle, Banksy and Julian Opie, 20% of which belong to the couple and the rest are loans from other collectors and artists. There is also an exhibition by Chilean artist Guillermo Lorca with a dozen paintings.

The energy given off by most of the works is that of creators who are also celebrities, from Warhol, a pioneer in playing with fame and the media, to David LaChapelle, who has portrayed a thousand and one celebrities. Takashi Murakami has done collaborations with fashion brands like Louis Vuitton and musicians like J Balvin, and Banksy is an anonymous celebrity who blows up auctions. The paintings, sculptures and videos also speak of creators who move fluidly between fine art, digital art and immersive installations, as can be seen in a room dedicated to crypto-art (the NFT archives) and with an installation by the Japanese teamLab, also on display at the Caixaforum. And some of these artists often play with politics, religion and sex as a lure to try to shake the conscience of viewers.

'Diamond room', by Irma de Vries

Nowadays, social networks are full of photographs of great works of art with a strong scenographic character, and this is the culmination of the Moco's tour, with an infinity room by Irma de Vries, which is a great place to take selfies.

The Moco Museum is a private space, so the entrance fee is high, 16.5 euros (for students, 11.50), above the 11 euros at Macba and 12 euros at Picasso. Lionel and Kim Logchies don't mind that the acronym of their museum sounds like the Spanish word "moco" (snot): they wanted to maintain the fusion of mo-dern art, his passion, and co-temporary art, her forte. They have rented the Palau Cervelló for 20 years, where the Maeght gallery was and later the Fundació Gaspar, and Kim Logchies assures that the building was the first and the key that made them decide for Barcelona instead of Florence.

"We have been in the sector for more than twenty years, and many people, and the young public, were asking for it and we thought it was time for a second museum", explains Kim Logchies. "Many people told us to open it in Barcelona, but we weren't sure. We came here a year ago and found this place and it was clear that we could set up here. We also took into account that it's in a museum area". Their Amsterdam museum has received nearly two million visitors of 120 nationalities since 2016, and in 2019 they received almost 640,000 visitors. But they have not made forecasts of the number of annual public they expect to receive in Barcelona.

A rare sculpture by Dalí

The tour is divided between the ground floor and the first floor, and later they plan to open the first floor. As for the exhibition, the part that belongs to other collectors and focuses on artists will change according to the number of months that the loans last (the temporary exhibition of Guillermo Lorca will last a year). Amongst all the pieces on show, a monumental sculpture by Salvador Dalí, entitled Woman aflame, stands out. It is on loan from The Dali Universe, an institution that has presented itself as a museum dedicated to the Empordà artist but which in reality functions more like a gallery. It is a piece that moves in the swampy terrain of what Dalí authorised and what he didn't, as happened in the engravings. Also striking is one of the drawings that Keith Haring made on advertising panels in the New York underground: experts estimate that only between 5% and 10% of the more than 2,000 he made have survived. 

"We believe that the art world and also the business world are changing", concludes Kim Logchies. "It used to be for a white elite, and now it's more for everyone".