ROWDY TOURISTS EXCHANGED HOOTS AND HOWLS as I turned into Calle Diputación. I saw Fidel shake his head in disapproval before returning to his reading, which I interrupted with my arrival. It was a Saturday morning and we had scheduled to meet at Fundación Francisco Godia. Established by Liliana Godia in memory of her father, the foundation occupies the magnificent Casa Garriga Nogués and houses up to 1,500 paintings, sculptures and ceramics from Francisco Godia's legacy. New pieces continue to be added to the collection each year, and yet it manages to still feel uncluttered in spite of its ever-growing size.
Welcoming us into the building was a white marble staircase, elegantly curving underneath a stained-glass ceiling. Upstairs can be found art and items from as early as the 12th century, in an eclectic mix including Romanesque statues, polychrome china, realist canvases and cubist compositions. Fidel de Tovar, the morning's photographer extraordinaire, shared his distaste for baroque. I secretly eyed an ornately-framed mural of a maiden on a swing. Fortunately, the collection covers a range of styles, balancing diversity and harmony while ultimately showcasing Francisco Godia's eclectic taste.
Francisco Godia Sales was an art enthusiast but he was more commonly known as Paco Godia, the gentleman racer who was the first Spanish to compete in Formula One. Driving for Maserati, he completed 14 races between 1951 and 1958, placing 6th in 1956. This was a success unmatched by any Spanish driver up until Alonso came along. Succeeding his retirement in 1969, Francisco Godia maintained ties with the world of motorsport, becoming influential in the development of Barcelona's Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya race track.
The foundation contains a few objects from Paco Godia's racing days but its atmosphere adopts none of that which you'd associate with speed racing. In here, it's calm and still, sacred almost, encouraging decorum and contemplation. Alain de Botton has in recent years suggested the idea of museums as the secular world's new churches; at least in their being "places of consolation, meaning, sanctuary, redemption." I found my sanctuary alright, at least from the occasional bad behavior outside. As for redemption, I may have found it in being clean and competent, after the occasional bad behavior the previous night.
Fundación Francisco Godia, Barcelona. www.fundacionfgodia.org Photos by Fidel de Tovar, www.fideldetovar.net