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The Mercury fountain stands in the Fundació Joan Miró (Joan Miró foundation) in the Montjuic hill of Barcelona, near the Olympic village.

It was made by Alexander Calder in 1937, specially for Spanish pavilion of the World's Fair in Paris in that year. It is a tribute to the Almadén mercury miners in Spain.

It was later donated to the Joan Miró foundation, as Miró and Calder were good friends.

At first glance, it seems a fairly nice water feature housed in a small glassed-off room. The fluid is pumped up a pipe and runs down the black metal chutes, churning with generated chaotic waves back into the pool. The falling stream bounces erratically from a flat black paddle, which counterweighs a waving pennant reading "Almadén". It's all done in a 20th century sparse and curvy abstract style.

It's soon clear that this liquid doesn't look or move like water, but is something heavier, shinier and with higher surface tension. The reason why the room is glassed off becomes clear. Little droplets on the stone surrounding the pool, like rain on a waxed car, tell a story of years of accumulation.

Our reaction was pretty much "how cool is that!" Is it important art with something to say? Who cares, our inner children liked it lots. Apparently it was somewhat political at the time, with the mercury miners holding out against Franco, and was originally exhibited at the fair near Pablo Picasso's Guernica.


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