The Andalusian Contemporary Art Centre, Seville

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Even rain has its advantages. If it had not been quite so wet, I might not have sought shelter in a former Carthusian monastery. And so I would have missed a fascinating morning exploring the Andalusian Contemporary Art Centre in Seville. Locally known as CAAC (Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo), the centre holds exhibitions of modern art within the old monastery buildings.  

A Historic Building

As is so often the case, the Andalusian Centre of Contemporary Art is of interest as much for the building in which it is housed, as for the art itself. The site has had a long and varied history: in ancient times it was used to extract clay for pottery and the first monastery was built here in the 14th century. In later centuries it was variously a temporary burial site for Christopher Columbus, a barracks during the Napoleonic Wars, and a porcelain factory.

The historic building and the art exhibitions have been designed to complement one another perfectly.

Cloister at the Contemporary Arts Centre, Seville
Walking through the old cloisters at the Contemporary Arts Centre

Monasterio De La Cartuja

Also known as the Monasterio de Nuestra Señora Santa Maria de Las Cuevas, the Monastery of La Cartuja was built in 1399, based around an icon of the Virgin Mary. It was later occupied by a Franciscan order, and then by monks of the order of St Bruno. The monastery was sacked during the Napoleonic period, and finally dissolved in the 19th century.

Icon at the Contemporary Arts Centre, Seville
An original icon from the monastery

The rooms of the monastery are clearly visible today, including the church, chapter house, chapel and refectory. You can walk along the cloisters and into the outer courtyards. And the original religious relics can be seen beside the contemporary art.

Courtyard at the Contemporary Arts Centre, Seville
I didn’t entirely miss the rain, as some of the courtyards were outside!

A Ceramics Factory

The building fell into disuse, until it was purchased by an English merchant in 1840. Recalling its earliest use, it was transformed into a porcelain and ceramics factory. La Cartuja china became famous and won many awards. The factory ceased production in the 1980s.

La Cartuja ceramics factory, Seville
The chimneys of the old ceramics factory are still visible

The kilns and tall chimneys of the factory can still be seen.

Exhibitions At The Andalusia Contemporary Art Centre

Finally the monastery became the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, which today houses a permanent collection of contemporary art, as well as hosting temporary exhibitions. But many of the features of the original monastery remain, creating an often stunning contrast between modern and mediaeval.

Modern art and medieval ceiling, Andalusian Contemporary Art Centre, Seville
The modern sculpture makes an intriguing contrast with the medieval surroundings

At the time of my visit, there were displays by a number of modern artists. The major exhibition was of the controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, including his famous Sunflower Seeds, formerly exhibited at London’s Tate Modern. A number of his works were made from porcelein, which seemed appropriate in this setting!

Porcelein Jars, Contemporary Arts Centre, Seville
A number of Weiwei’s works were made from porcelain

Visiting The Contemporary Art Centre

  • The Contemporary Art Centre is around a 40 minute walk from the city centre. You can also get there by bus.
  • It is possible to take a private guided tour of the monastery and art gallery.
  • While in Seville you might also like to visit the Real Alcazar (Royal Palace) and the Metropol Parasol.

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4 thoughts on “The Andalusian Contemporary Art Centre, Seville”

  1. What a fascinating place! I love the contrast between the art itself and the art of the venue. Made both seem to much more…. well, they are awesome on their own… I think the word I am looking for is sacred. Honored.

  2. So beautiful! And you are so right..if it hadn't rained, you might have missed this special place! Fabulous photos. Thanks for sharng!

  3. What lovely images! And how unexpected the beauty is, when we allow ourselves to follow paths we might not have taken had we not been forced to change plans 🙂 Thank you for this great post and pictures of how you shifted and stayed open to possibility.

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WorldWideWriter is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…

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