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.||
Front fachade of the Episcopal palace of Astorga in Leon.
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.
The Cathedral of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
|His parents were maintaining Gaudís 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.|
Fachade of the Casa Batlló
found in the Paseo de Gracia of Barcelona.
|Under Serallach, Gaudí worked on the project of the Villa de Arcadia, a recreational farm in Montjüic. Working together with Juan Salamera, he learned industrial design by working on the design of the trolley railways to unite the farm with the Peace Gate. Under del Villar, Gaudí designed the apse and the chamber of the Virgin of the Monastery of Monserrat. Under Punti, he learned the skills of carpentry, ironsmith, ceramist, and glassmaker. Gaudí was surrounded by masters who not only influenced him, but whose masterpieces have dotted Barcelonas and Spains icons (Liceo Palace, Plaza Real, and more).|
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 Gaudís 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, Gaudís 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: Martorells 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, Gaudís 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 Halls 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.||
Fachade of the Casa Vicens in Barcelona.
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.
"El Capricho" (The Whim) found in Comillas, Cantabria.
|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.|
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 Gaudís 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 Gaudís 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, Gaudís 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.
episode of this great man is one of the darkest of
contemporary Spanish History. During the Spanish Civil
War, Gaudís 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.
Crypt of the church of the Güell Colony which is harmonious the interior design found in Santa Coloma de Cervelló.
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