Antoni Gaudi, 1852-1926: Architecture, Ideology, and Politics

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Electaarchitecture, 2003 - Architecture - 346 pages

A critical re-examination of the Catalan master.

Antoni Gaudi is now recognized as one of the masters of modern architecture, with his organic, vinelike forms, sensuous wooden interiors, and brilliantly coloured mosaics expressing a synthesis of international modernism and local Catalan artistic traditions. A builder by instinct and practice, Gaudi's artistic sensibilities were among the most imaginative and baroque of any modern architect. His work is instantly recognizable, in particular his last, uncompleted work, the strange and massive cathedral of the Sagrada Familia, with its sandcastle-like dripping towers. His iconic Casa Batllo (1907), an apartment building resembling a pile of gracefully draped stones hugging a corner of the Paseo de Gracia, has become a symbol of Barcelona. His Guell Park (1915), built originally for an important patron and Catalan industrialist for whom the architect built several other works, has recently been restored and is open to the public. Despite his current renown, critical recognition of his talent and significance came late, as the architecture establishment had difficulty fitting him into the canon of the Modern Movement. Gaudi's was a truly unique oeuvre, and this account of his work examines his work in the context of his life and times. He came of age during a time of rising Catalan nationalism and the flowering of a uniquely Catalan culture that mixed art nouveau with Mediterranean traditions; Barcelona at the turn of the century rivalled Paris as a centre of art, music, literature, and avant-garde publishing. Gaudi absorbed this culture and was a committed nationalist as a young man, but in later life he turned to Catholicism and became deeply religious and ascetic. His eclectic practice mixed forms from the past in a complex experimentation with space, materials, and decoration: this kind of artistic freedom was made possible only by unusual social conditions including Barcelona's economic prosperity at the turn of the century and the existence of highly skilled artisans in Catalonia. This volume analyzes Gaudi's work systematically and in detail, from the Guell Palace to the Guell Park, through to the Sagrada Familia.

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