170th anniversary of Antoni Gaudí, an icon of modernist architecture in Barcelona
June 25, 2022, marked 170 years since the birth of Antoni Gaudí, the greatest exponent of Catalan modernism, and we celebrate this day by sharing the story of his life and remembering his work.
Gaudí was born in 1852, in Reus, Tarragona, then the second most important city in Catalonia, spending much of his childhood in the countryside of the province. The geology of the site, its flora and fauna, exerted a great influence on his later architectural ideas. His father’s profession, a coppersmith, also had a great influence on his personality on a formal and constructive level: he constantly saw him mold and bend copper plates with his hammer to create vessels in which he would later distil spirits. .
From primary school, Gaudí showed a particular interest and skill in subjects such as drawing, geometry and arithmetic, so it is not surprising that he ended up moving to Barcelona to study art. architecture. During his studies, he worked as an assistant to notable architects of the time and in craftsmen’s workshops, where he had his first glimpse of how to work with materials such as wood, ceramics, glass and stone.
In 1878 he graduated as an architect and from then on he began an uninterrupted professional career until the day of his death in 1926 when he was knocked down by a tram.
Gaudí is an international figure in architecture, there is no doubt about it. But his story wasn’t always like that. For many years his projects were generally misunderstood, his own fellow citizens did not understand the originality and exceptionality of his work, his proposals were considered arbitrary and a waste of forms.
It was not until the middle of the 20th century that many scholars began to visit the Catalan capital to see this outstanding work, and an international current of interest in Gaudí began. Salvador Dalí was the first voice of modernity to raise the voice of the architect, followed by Le Corbusier, Josep-Lluís Sert and many other important figures in the discipline.
“Originality consists in a return to the origin: originality is what amounts to the simplicity of the first solutions” – Antoni Gaudí
It cannot be denied that the originality of his work surpasses that of his contemporaries in Catalan modernism. Here are some of his most important projects and articles.
AD Classics: The Sagrada Familia / Antoni Gaudí
Known as the most representative work of Catalan Art Nouveau (Modernism) and the architect’s most important work, the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Familia, a large Catholic basilica, is located in Barcelona, Spain. Construction began in 1882 and is still ongoing.
AD Classics: Casa Milà / Antoni Gaudí
With its undulating facade and surreal sculptural roof, Casa Milà looks more organic than artificial, as if it had been carved directly into the ground. Located in the center of Barcelona, and better known as La Pedrera, the building, like Casa Battló and Parc Güell, is inspired by the modernist movement, the Spanish Art Nouveau style.
AD Classics: AD Classics: Casa Batlló / Antoni Gaudí
Casa Battló was built between 1904 and 1906. All the architecture of this work is based on animal forms, especially the ocean, through a work with curves, suggestions to the skeleton and bright colors, which constitute together a masterpiece in Barcelona.
AD Classics: Park Güell / Antoni Gaudí
Parc Güell is a large park designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí at the request of Count Eusebi Güell, who wanted to build an elegant park for the aristocrats of Barcelona. In this park, Gaudí mixes his extravagant style with nature to propose structures that rise from the ground like trees, but are identifiable as built elements.
AD Classics: Colonia Güell / Antoni Gaudí
The Colònia Güell was a workers’ colony located in Santa Coloma de Cervelló, today a town of about 7,000 inhabitants, 20 kilometers from Barcelona. The area was an industrial suburb that grew rapidly in the late 19th century.