Els Mistos: The Matches Sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

Els Mistos is a twenty-two-metre steel statue of a book of matches, which was inaugurated in 1992 in the Vall d’Hebron neighbourhood of Barcelona.

The monument, which was created by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, depicts an open book of matches, one of which is burning with a blue flame. Some of the giant matches in the book are bent over, others have been torn off lie crumpled on the ground.

The statue stands at the junction of Av. del Cardenal Vidal i Barraquer and Carrer del Pare Mariana and the discarded steel matches litter the pavement of both streets.

Statue of a giant book of matches in Barcelona
Els Mistos: Match Cover by and Coosje van Bruggen

Oldenburg has been quoted as saying that he wanted people to interact with his works, which is just as well because, at the weekends, the matches statue is a popular hangout for skaters, who use the giant steel matchbook as a ramp.

The colourful, cartoon-like matches have been restored and repainted on several occasions, most recently in 2023.

About the artists

Sculptor Claes Oldenburg was a Swedish-born artist who grew up in Chicago and studied literature and art history at Yale University. His earliest works were abstract sculptures made from everyday items as well as performance art.

During the nineteen sixties, he began experimenting with pop art and began working on large-scale sculptures of everyday objects. By the nineteen seventies, he was working exclusively on public commissions. Perhaps the best-known sculpture from this period is Spoonbridge and Cherry in Minneapolis.

In 1976, Oldenburg began collaborating with Dutch-American writer and art historian Coosje van Bruggen, whom he married in 1977. From 1981 onwards, both artists’ names appeared on all of Oldenburg’s work.

Statue of a burnt match in Barcelona
Giant burnt matches lie discarded on the pavement


The match sculpture is located in the Vall d’Hebron neighbourhood of Barcelona.

Address: Av. del Cardenal Vidal i Barraquer, 32

How to get there

The nearest metro station is Montbau on Line 3 (the green line), which is a two-minute walk from the monument.

Sculpture of a giant match
Another discarded match

Other attractions nearby


Av. del Cardenal Vidal i Barraquer, Barcelona

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