*Gaudi, Antonio


Antoni Gaudí i Cornet

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet

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Antonio Gaudi

Antonio Gaudi was a unique architectural talent, not easily compared with other architects in the terms used by architectural historians. Not only was his work strongly individualized, but Antonio Gaudi was fortunate to have loyal clients to support him. From early in his career, wide attention was given to his work, although Antonio Gaudi shunned publicity.

Antonio Gaudi has been indentified with the catalan Modernismo moevement of the late nineteenth century and, by extension with the international art nouveau style. His strong personality drew like-minded people of talent to him, and the collaboration of structural engineers, sculptors, and metalworkers was needed to carry out his ideas. It is often possible to identify the artists and engineers involved.
The nationalist desires of Catalonians had been a problem of long standing for Spain. By the late nineteenth century, Barcelona had developed strong trade relationships with the UK and Western Europe. The wealth created contrasted with the difficult economic times in the rest of Spain and the loss of its last possessions in the war of 1898. the artistic activity in Barcelona was supported by business clients who by their travels were well acquainted with other countries, particulary with the arts and crafts movement in the United Kingdom. The development of illustrated periodicals further spread the art news to Barcelona. The cafe Els Quatre Gats, where Picasso’s early work was shown and for which Antonio Gaudi designed menus in 1899, was an example of the international influences of the time.
Antonio Gaudi was born in Reus in 1852 and attended school there and in Tarragona. Antonio Gaudi left for Barcelona in 1869 for preuniversity studies. In 1873, Antonio Gaudi was accepted at the New School of Architecture and in 1878 opened his office. His first commission, archieved through a competition, was for lampposts for the Plaza Real in Barcelona. Antonio Gaudi undertook a number of commissions for furniture and altarpieces and a showcase for gloves for the Comella firm for the Paris Exhibition of 1878. An early house commission was the Casa Vicens (1883-1885) which used polychrome tile on the exterior and in the smoking room (fumador). Another early work was the villa El Capricio at the resort area of Comillas.
One of Antonio Gaudi ‘s loyal clients and friends was Eusebio Güell, for whom Antonio Gaudi designed many projects. For the housing development near Barcelona, Antonio Gaudi designed his famous park (1900-1914) on a sloping site. The Park Güell extends over a market area and is supported on columns sloped to reflect the transfer of loads from the plaza above. The use of colored tile is most remarkably evident in the curving bench at the edge of the plaza. The tile work was designed by Antonio Gaudi ‘s collaborator, Josep Maria Jujol I Gibert (1879-1940) and is considered an important work of art. The park was left incomplete because the development project failed to attract investors, particularly with the start of World War I.
Güell ‘s house was greatly expanded and remodeled from Antonio Gaudi ‘s designs from 1885 to 1890. The facades are more severe than in Antonio Gaudi ‘s other work, exept for the extensive wrought-iron work, the polychrome roof forms, and the principal internal event, a central space rising up through the house to the capping cupola. Drawings of sections of the palace were displayed in Paris in 1910.
Another project of Güell ‘s was a worker’s colony around his factory at Santa Coloma de Cervello. Antonio Gaudi made some designs for a chapel for colony, but it was not until 1908 that Antonio Gaudi became seriously involved in what had become a more ambitious undertaking. The design is closely related to Antonio Gaudi ‘s other important religious commission, the Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona. The Colonia Güell Chapel is irregular in form, with sloping brick and stone piers supporting the flat tile vaults in the cript, which is the only completed portion. The structure evolved from structural analysis of a model, which resulted in a powerful spatial effect. The crypt was completed by 1914, but the church above was never built. The use of structural analysis to determine the forces on the columns resulted in original forms, which were modified in detail during construction.
The Casa Mila apartment house was a late example of Antonio Gaudi ‘s apartment house was a late example of Antonio Gaudi ‘s commercial design. On a corner site, the building facade is curvilinear in form and based on organic concepts. The heavy facade is tied to the floors behind. The most successful portions of the design were the roof vaults, clustered chimneys, and balcony railings designed by Jujol. This design caused much public comment, and Antonio Gaudi was forced to defend his organic forms in general terms.
A new church, the Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona, was to be dedicated to the holy family. In 1883, Antonio Gaudi was recommended to replace the original architect Francisco del Villar, who had resigned. At age 31, Antonio Gaudi undertook what became his life’s work. During the years that Antonio Gaudi was working on the crypt, he was formulating design ideas to be expressed in the church above. The east transept was selected for a presentation of the Nativity, and work began on the apse, the lower part of the towers, and the entrance doors. By 1901, work began on the upper part of the towers, and there the shift from a more traditional beginning to a new style can be seen. The square base of the towers was modified into the round towers, which grew ever freer in design as the work progressed. After 1910, Antonio Gaudi spent all of his effort on religious commision, and the east front towers were completed after his death in 1926. Work continued until 1935, when it was stopped by the Spanish Civil War. Antonio Gaudi left a number of models for the completion of the nave and the two other main facades. His plans included a central tower higher than St. Peter’s in Rome.

sagradafamiliagaudi

Much of Antonio Gaudi ‘s attention was given to the design of pinnacles of the towers. As completed, the tops of the pinnacles use colored glass set in concrete, which is lit by internal searchlights to glow at night.
Known for his understanding of structure and decoration using color, light, and sculpture, Antonio Gaudi ‘s work has been the subject of extensive investigation and analysis.
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Major works:
Casa Vicens, 1878 – 1880
Palau Güell, 1885 – 1889
Collegi de Santa Maria de Jesús 1889 – 1894
Santa Coloma de Cervelló, 1898 – 1915
Casa Calvet, 1899 – 1904
Casa Batllo, Barcelona, Spain, 1905 – 1907
Casa Mila, Barcelona, Spain, 1905 – 1910
Colonia Güell, near Barcelona, Spain, 1908 – 1915
Park Güell, Montana Pelada, Barcelona, Spain, 1900 – 1914
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain, 1882 – 1926
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Bibliography:
1. H.R. Hitchcock, Antonio Gaudi, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1957.
2. J.J. Sweeney and J.L. Sert, Antonio Gaudi, The Architectural Press, London, 1960.
3. E. Casanelles, Antonio Gaudi: A Reappraisal, New York Graphic Society, Greenwich, Ct., 1967.
4. C Martinell, Antonio Gaudi, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1975.
5. T. Benton, in “Spain: Modernismo in Catalonia,” F. Russell, ed., Art Nouveau Architecture, Rizzoli, New York, 1979, chapt. 2.
6. R. Collins and J.B. Nonell, The Designs and Drawings of Antonio Gaudi, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 1983.
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Antoni Gaudí i Cornet

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet

One of the most celebrated Spanish architects around the globe is Antoni Gaudí i Cornet. Yet as it is always, this is a testimonial of a great human being that was caught in the mires of his time, the petty political divisions of the Spanish politics of the turn of the century, and yet whose artistic creations have risen to international recognition. Gaudí, as we shall see, was not a pompous men, and his simplicity and character permeate his architecture, almost as if freeing architecture from the laws of physics and defying gravity itself; his style is often described as a blend of neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau, but it also has surrealist and cubist elements.

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet was born on June 25, 1852, in Reus, Catalonia; the son of Francesc Gaudí i Serra, a coppersmith, and of Antonia Cornet i Bertran, Gaudí was Christened Antonio Plácido Guillermo Gaudí i Cornet.
Gaudí was inscribed in the School Maestro Berenguer at the Monterols Street in Reus, where he met Eduard Toda Güell, who would become one of his life long best friends. By the time he was eleven (1863), Gaudí attended his secondary studies in San Francis Convent, which was run by Pairists, and spent his summers at Mas de la Caldereta de Ruidoms. He was afflicted many times by rheumatic fevers, and this maintained him in solitude from the youthful games; during this long periods of time, he spent observing nature.

By the time he was seventeen, he attended the College of Sciences of Barcelona, at the Regional School of Architecture. Together with his best friend Eduard, they sketched a project for the restoration and usage of the ruins of the monastery of Poblet. During early university years, he lived in the Casa Lonja de Mar at the old convent of the Carmen Between 1873 through 1877, Gaudí continued with his studies at the same time he did his military service in the infantry (July 1874 through January 1879). By 1874, Gaudí moved to the 2nd floor of the new building of the University in the Gran Vía–which became the School of the Masters’ Pieces and was the M.A. Studies School of Architecture until 1962. He was deployed several times–this was the time of the Third Carlist Wars–but he never was engaged in combat. At the university, he was a very unusual student mostly due to his independent character, and his particular situations; he preferred spending time alone in the library than attending classes, where he found an interest in the philosophical writings of Llorens, Barba, Milá, and Fontanals.

His parents were maintaining Gaudí’s older brother, Francisco, who died soon after his graduation in 1876 and him. Due to his modest means, Gaudí worked for master architects and master artisans, where he worked as a designer. Under the master Fontseré, Gaudí designed the Ciutadela Park. Gaudí worked with architects such as Emilio Sala Cortés, F. P. del Villar Lozano, Leandro Serrallach, Mas y Juan Martorell. During the time that Gaudí spent with Martorell, Gaudí was able to expand his studies into a branch of engineering (estática gráfica– or the study of equilibrium and its laws), which was not part of the program at the time. This opened new doors and contacts for him, as well as new aspects of architecture and applied construction.

By 1878, Gaudí graduated as a master architect, and he participated in several excursions which emphasized the resurgence of Catalonia, visiting places such as Granollers, Olesa de Bonesvall, Sant Feliú de Guixols, Elna Carcasona amongst others. This places awoke in him an interest for medieval architecture. At the same time, Gaudí demonstrated an affinity for the political struggle of the workers. It should be noted that the only overt sentimental point of Gaudí’s life is the love he felt for Miss Pepita Moreu; yet due to his timidity, by the time he proposed to her, she was already engaged with some one else. From this point on, Gaudí seems to have dedicated solely to the study and furtherance of architecture.
In the span of one year, Gaudí’s brother, mother and sister passed away, greatly influencing him, and he moved in with his father and niece into an apartment in Barcelona. By this time, he was also working with Güell in two projects: Martorell’s house in La Rambla and the chapel of San Feliú de les Corts de Sarriá. Later on, he would work in the Palace Güell in the street Nou de la Rambla.

It is at this time that Gaudí is recommended for the direction of the new Cathedral of Barcelona, La Sagrada Família. He took on the project from his exmentor and master Villar, who had voluntarily abandoned it in 1883 because of several disagreements with the construction company. Yet at the same time, Gaudí works on projects with Martorell such as the Convent of Villaricos, the convent de las Selesas and the Jesuit Church of the Caspe Street.

Between the period of 1887 through 1893, Gaudí’s fame by now was rapidly rising through his clerical contacts in the world of the Barcelonian bourgeoisie, and this brought him a new set of projects to be done. The mayor of Barcelona, Rius y Taulet, charged him with the renovation of the Salon de Ciento and the City Hall’s staircase , where the Regent Queen would stay during the Universal Exposition. In the end, Gaudí was cheated of this project by Luis Domenech, known for doing so to his colleagues.

In the Expo of 1888, Gaudí was charged by the Marquis of Comillas the design of the Pavilion of the Transatlantic Company in the Maritime section. That same year (and subsequent others), Gaudí was flooded with a wide variety of projects Of these the Episcopal Palace of Astorga was the only one censored by the Royal Academy of the Bellas Artes of San Fernando. Because it was a public work charged by the then Ministry of Justice and Grace, that his plans were so minutely refined that the project began in 1893, two years after it had been proposed. By this time, the Bishop had passed away and Gaudí had antagonized the clergy, leaving the project.

It is also a fact that Gaudí was also a religious man, point which became increasingly more accentuated towards the end of his days. An example of this would be his self imposed Easter fasting which almost cost him his life in 1894. Upon recuperating from it, Gaudí designed the Nativity front of the Sagrada Família. His religious dedications is notable even in his secular creations such as Bellesguard, Finca Millares, Casa Clavet, Casa Batlló, and Casa Milá. These large stone and iron structures minimize traditional straight lines and flat surfaces by the use of rounded, irregularly spaced openings and a roof and balconies that have a wavelike appearance.

Casa Batllo Antonio Gaudi Vista general

By 1908, Gaudí was famed in masterpieces such as the Sagrada Família, La Pedrera, the Cathedral of Mallorca. At this time, one of the mysteries of Gaudí’s life takes place. According to Juan Matamala–the only person to record this incident–, Gaudí was approached by American gentlemen for the creation of a Hotel in New York. Nothing more is known of this event–in either side of the ocean–, and there are no blueprints of this proposed hotel; yet it is strange that such event would have been feigned by Matamala. The following year, Gaudí builds the school of the Sagrada Família with a conical roof, something which had not been seen before, mixing originality with simplicity.
The mid 1910s opened one of the darkest and most depressive time periods of the artist, who had from time to time suffered. Several of his best friends, both colleagues and contacts, passed away, making the artist to close in, and beginning to separate himself from the world. This however did not diminish his famed, yet quite the opposite bolstered it to new heights.

By 1922, the architect Teodoro de Anasagasti Asensio proposed that Gaudí’s Sagrada Família become a public work, thus be financed by the state. The motion was approved by majority, and Gaudí was asked to sign in the book of Illustrious Persons at the Orfeó Catala, at the Music palace of Barcelona. Four years later, Gaudí’s niece passed away and received constant visits at his home in Park Güell by Lorenzo Matamala. His last eight months, he spent solely working on the Sagrada Família, and would not accept any new projects. He had set up a cot in his study and would not move from there. On the afternoon of the 7th of June of 1926, when Gaudí was crossing the Gran Vía at the Gerona crossing, where tow trolleys line # 30 crossed each other in opposite directions, and Gaudí was hit. Three cab drivers negated taking him to the clinic until the Guardia Civil Ramón Perez Sanchez took him to the hospital. Three days later, not having regained consciousness, Gaudí passed away at the age of 74. On the 12th, a massive funeral was held for the great architect who defied conventional forms and even laws of nature in his works.
The last episode of this great man is one of the darkest of contemporary Spanish History. During the Spanish Civil War, Gaudí’s tomb was profaned in a police search and it remained opened until 1939. In which several of his friends gathered to identify the remains, and the coffer was sealed then.
The world has not known such prolific and well rounded architects, who have brought a freedom to this art form through simplicity and originality. many have aspired to copy him, few have achieved his level, none have been able to maintain his greatness through out their careers as he did.

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