Gaudi

Source: Wikipedia

Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí i Cornet (25 June 185210 June 1926) – in English usually referred to by the Spanish translation of his name, Antonio Gaudí – was a Spanish[3] architect who belonged to the Modernist style (Art Nouveau) movement and was famous for his unique style and highly individualistic designs.

Biography

Birthplace

Antoni Gaudi was born in the province of Tarragona in southern Catalonia in 1852. While there is some dispute 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 3 miles (5 km) from Reus,[2] – it is certain that he was baptized in Reus a day after his birth. The artist’s parents, Francesc Gaudí Serra and Antònia Cornet Bertran, both came from families of metalsmiths. It was this exposure to nature at an early age that influenced him to incorporate natural shapes into his later work.[4]

Higher education

Gaudi, as an architecture student at the Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura in Barcelona from 1873 to 1877, achieved only mediocre grades but did well in his “Trial drawings and projects”.[5] After five years of work, he was awarded the title of architect in 1878. As he signed the title, Elies Rogent declared, “Qui sap si hem donat el diploma a un boig o a un geni: el temps ens ho dirà” (“Who knows if we have given this diploma to a nut or to a genius. Time will tell.”)

The newly named architect immediately began to plan and design and would remain affiliated with the school his entire life.

Early career

Later years

The Casa Milà, in the Eixample, Barcelona.

Gaudi was an ardent Catholic, to the point that in his later years, he abandoned secular work and devoted his life to Catholicism and his Sagrada Família. He designed it to have 18 towers, 12 for the 12 apostles, 4 for the 4 evangelists, one for Mary and one for Jesus. Soon after, his closest family and friends began to die. His works slowed to a halt, and his attitude changed. One of his closest family members – his niece Rosa Egea – died in 1912, only to be followed by a “faithful collaborator, Francesc Berenguer Mestres” two years later. After these tragedies, Barcelona fell on hard times, economically. The construction of La Sagrada Família slowed; the construction of La Colonia Güell ceased altogether. Four years later, Eusebi Güell, his patron, died.[7]

Perhaps it was because of this unfortunate sequence of events that Gaudi changed. He became reluctant to talk with reporters or have his picture taken and solely concentrated on his masterpiece, La Sagrada Família.[7]

On 7 June 1926[8] Gaudi was run over by a tram. Because of his ragged attire and empty pockets, many cab drivers refused to pick him up for fear that he would be unable to pay the fare. He was eventually taken to a pauper’s hospital in Barcelona. Nobody recognized the injured artist until his friends found him the next day. When they tried to move him into a nicer hospital, Gaudi refused, reportedly saying “I belong here among the poor.” He died three days later on 10 June 1926, half of Barcelona mourning his death. He was buried in the midst of La Sagrada Família.[7]

Although Gaudi was constantly changing his mind and recreating his blue prints, the only existing copy of his last recorded blue prints were destroyed by the anarchists in 1938 at the height of Franco’s invasion of Barcelona. This has made it very difficult for his workers to complete the cathedral in the same fashion as Gaudí most likely would have wished. It is for this that Gaudí is known to many as “God’s Architect”. La Sagrada Família is now being completed but differences between his work and the new additions can be seen.

As of 2007, completion of the Sagrada Familía is planned for 2026. However, this may prove wildly optimistic if the worst fears of many eminent engineers and architects are realized[citation needed]. These have pointed out the structural dangers posed by a tunnel for a TGV-style high-speed rail, which would run within feet of the church’s foundations[9][1]; one might note the precedent of one metro tunnel in Barcelona’s Carmel district that collapsed and destroyed an entire city block on the 27th of February 2005. Others of Gaudí’s works threatened by the city center route chosen by Barcelona’s mayor Jordi Hereu for the new rail line include Casa Batlló and Casa Milà.

Artistic style

Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece, Sagrada Familia

Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece, Sagrada Família

Gaudí’s first works were designed in the style of gothic architecture and traditional Spanish architectural modes, but he soon developed his own distinct sculptural style. French architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, who promoted an evolved form of gothic architecture, proved a major influence on Gaudí. But the student surpassed the master architect and contrived highly original designs – irregular and fantastically intricate. Some of his greatest works, most notably La Sagrada Família, have an almost hallucinatory power.

In Gaudi’s hanging model a system of threads represents columns, arches, walls and vaults. Sachets with lead shot resemble the weight of small building parts.

Gaudi spent ten years working on studies for the design, and developing a new method of structural calculation based on a stereostatic model built with cords and small sacks of pellets. The outline of the church was traced on a wooden board (1:10 scale), which was then placed on the ceiling of a small house next to the work site. Cords were hung from the points where columns were to be placed. Small sacks filled with pellets, weighing one ten-thousandth part of the weight the arches would have to support, were hung from each catenaric arch formed by the cords. Photographs were taken of the resulting model from various angles, and the exact shape of the church’s structure was obtained by turning them upside-down obtaining therefore the form, absolutely precise and exact, of the structure of the building, without having to have conducted an operation of calculation and without possibility of error. The forms of cords corresponded to the lines of tension of the prim structure and when inverting the photo, the lines of pressure of the compressed structure were obtained. An absolutely exact and simple method, giving an example of the intuitive and elementary methods that Gaudi applied in its architecture and that allowed him to obtain balanced forms very similar to which nature offers.

Interests

Gaudí, throughout his life, studied nature’s angles and curves and incorporated them into his designs. Instead of relying on geometric shapes, he mimicked the way men stand upright. The hyperboloids and paraboloids he borrowed from nature were easily reinforced by steel rods and allowed his designs to resemble elements from the environment.

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.

Gaudí loved for his work to be created by nature as he used concrete leaves and vine windows to create his ideas for him, so his work is not just because of him but because of nature as well.

Popularity

Gaudí’s originality was at first ridiculed by his peers. Indeed, he was first only supported by the rich industrialist Eusebi Güell. His fellow citizens referred to the Casa Milà as La Pedrera (“the quarry”), and George Orwell, who stayed in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, admittedly loathed his work. As time passed, though, his work became more famous, up to the point that he is now considered one of history’s most original architects.[citation needed]

Social and political influences

The opportunities afforded by Catalonia’s socioeconomic and political influences were endless. Catalans such as Antoni Gaudí often showcased the region’s diverse art techniques in their works. By mimicking nature, such artists symbolically pushed back the province’s ever-increasing industrial society.

Gaudí, among others, promoted the Catalan movement for regaining sovereignty from Spain by incorporating elements of Catalan culture in his designs.[3] Gaudí was involved in politics since he supported the Catalanist political party Regionalist League. For example, in 1924 Spanish authorities (ruled by the dictator Primo de Rivera) closed Barcelona‘s churches in order to prevent a nationalist celebration (11 September, National Day of Catalonia), Gaudí attended to Saints Justus and Pastor‘s church and was arrested by the Spanish police for answering in Catalan.[10] [11]

Major works

See also the List of Gaudi Buildings.

Influence

External links

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