Antoni Gaudi (25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926) was a Spanish Catalan architect, who worked during the Modernism (Art Nouveau) and became famous for his unique and highly individualistic designs regarded as beyond the scope of Modernism. As in the rest of Spain, each town and region of Catalonia prides itself on its distinctly individual characters or flavour. While there is some conflict as to his birthplace official documents state that he was born in the town of Reus, whereas others claim he was born in Riudoms, a small village Reus it is certain that he was baptized in Reus a day, after his birth. He attends school in Reus where the secondary institute is now named for him. His penchant for drawing and architectural studies was already illustrated in schoolboy’s projects.
I believe that Gaudi’s was modernist and in my opinion, this appears during his youngth; Gaudi was suffering many times from the rheumatic fevers, that were common at the time. This illness caused him to spend much time in isolation and he preferred to stay nature alone.
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Because of his rheumatism, the artist observed a strict vegetarian diet, used homeopathic drug therapy, underwent water therapy, and hiked regularly. Long walks, besides suppressing his rheumatism, further allowed him to experience nature. It was this exposure to nature at an early age which is thought to have inspired him to incorporate natural shapes and themes into his later work. Gaudi’s first works were designed in the style of gothic architecture and traditional Catalan architectural modes but he developed his own distinct sculptural style soon. As Gaudi says, “he was so inspired by nature” because:
– Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the Creator.
Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, a French architect who promoted an evolved form of gothic architecture, proved a major influence on Gaudi. The student went on to contrive highly original designs – irregularly and fantastically intricate. Some of his greatest jobs, the most notably is “La Sagrada Familia”, that has an almost hallucinatory force.
I would like to say about the parabolic arches, the mushroom columns an helical shapes all of these are the best for him… the most important who demonstrates that modernity means a lot in his life as architect as and his works. Gaudi, throughout his life, studied nature’s angles and curves and he incorporated them into his designs and mosaics. Instead of relying on geometric shapes, he mimicked the way men stand upright. The hyperboloids and paraboloids that he borrowed from nature, were easily been reinforced by steel rods and allowed his designs to look like elements from the environment.
As you say, and then many of the projects had elements of modernism that seemed to change his style from the influences and the various events in life everyday… everytime. The Spanish art-nouveau developed within the Catalan Renaixenca over the turn of the century. It was stimulated by the art nouveau of Paris where many Catalan intellectuals resided and by the similar Jugendstil movement of Germany. Gaudi had already employed some of the most characteristics Art Nouveau elements such as long curvilinear forms and free-stylized plants in his buildings as early as the mid 1880 well in advance of Art Nouveau where else. We have noticed this in the Palacio Guell and it is particularly vivid in his furniture of this epoch.
The Casa Calvet (1898-1904) is the building by Gaudi that best typifies the nascent Modernismo. The facade is a rather conventional Barcelona one, enlivened here and there by the fluid rococo and Art Nouveau details that appeared together at this moment. The latter are most advanced in the iron derricks at the top in the plant motifs of the owner’s oriel window and in tiny fronds amongst the iron balconies. Gaudi scholars agree that this building is the most conventional of his works, partly because it had to be squeezed in between older structures and partly; it was sited in one of the most elegant sections of Barcelona. Its symmetry, balance and orderly rhythm are unusual for Gaudi’s works. However, the curves and double gable at the top, the projecting oriel at the entrance almost baroque in its drama, and isolated witty details are modernista elements. Columns flanking the entrance are in the form of stacked bobbins an allusion to the family business of textile manufacture. Lluis Permanyer claims that the gallery at ground level is the facade’s the most outstanding feature, a daring combination of wrought iron and a stone in which decorative historical elements such as a cypress, an olive tree, horns of plenty, and the Catalan coat of arms can be discerned.
The Casa Batllo and the Casa Mila demonstrate that Gaudi was pursuing something more universal in Nature than the flowery ornament and whiplash lines of his Modernista compatriots. The Sagrada Familia church and the Colonia Guell chapel, in favor of which in 1910 he withdrew from almost all his other work. His reason still needs to be explored psychologically for the latter action. Taste in Catalonia was veering away from him in a typical classicistic reaction against Modernismo.
The Sagrada Familia, is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi (1852–1926). Although in complete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in November 2010 it was consecrated and proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI. Though construction of Sagrada Familia had begun in 1882; Gaudi became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming the project with his architectural and engineering style combining Gothic and curvilinear, Art Nouveau formswith ambitious structural columns and arches. Gaudi devoted his last years to the project and at the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Familia’s construction progressed slowly as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the mid-point in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges remainingand an anticipated completion date of 2026 the centennial of Gaudi’s death.
In November 2010 consecrated Sagrada Familia and the interior of the church is open and accessible giving a spectacular view of the expansive forest like interior. The use of external light through the stain glass windows and the ‘Glory of God’ window in the roof is ever changing and dynamic. The elevators that take you up to the various viewing points in the spires give access to a multitude of viewpoints that provide unique vistas of the Cathedral a Gaudi’s first jobs that were designed in the style of gothic architecture and traditional Catalan architectural modes, but he soon developed his own distinct sculptural style.
In my opinion, another interested project is the church of Colonia Guell which is obvious that it has passed the age of modernity. This is illustrated by the details of the building like the shapes that have given in every part of it.
The Church of Colonia Guell, an unfinished work by Antoni Gaudi.
The technique that Gaudi used to design the church was to hang little bags of birdshot from chains. Gravity would pull these bags downwards, giving even weight distribution and stretching the chains to form a model structure, thus showing him the shapes and angles his pillars would need to be. By using a mirror placed under the model, then Gaudi could see the model as it should be looked. A replica of his model for the crypt is in the Museum under the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The model looks dated; however this would allow Gaudi to perform designs, it could be done only by the computers, at this time. It put him a good 75 years ahead of the designs of the time.
The art of Antonio Gaudi is not easily reduced to the scope of a book or a photograph even in color.
Frederike Muller, Lars Wendt: The Architect Antoni Gaudi. Myth and Reality, wendtfilm
& Cine Canard, Germany 2006.
Rainer Zerbst – Antoni Gaudi, Taschen, 2002..
– Antonio Gaudi by George R.Collins (masters of world archeticture).
– Antoni Gaudi (James Johnson Sweeney and Josep Lluis Sert)
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