Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Antoni Gaudí: Catalan Modernism in Barcelona

Few architects have left such a significant mark on a city as Antoni Gaudi did on Barcelona. A leading light of Catalan Modernism, Gaudi eventually transcended it with his nature-based organic style, part of a biomorphic design trend sweeping Europe at the start of the 20th century, such as the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements in both France and Britain. The son of a coppersmith, Gaudi took to architecture at a young age. Graduating from the Barcelona School of Architecture in 1878, he soon developed his own ornamental style, animating surfaces with patterned brick or stone, bright coloured ceramic tiles and floral metalwork. Influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion, Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his works, instead preferring to create them as three-dimensional scale models and moulding the details as he conceived them. As a maturing artist, Gaudí's designs soon began to defy conventional stylistic classification, as he created a type of structure that could stand on its own without internal bracing or external buttressing, such as Casa Batlló in 1904 and Casa Milà a few years later — both considered to be characteristic of Gaudí's style. His works, both finished and uncompleted, stand as testimony to his genius. Increasingly pious, Gaudí abandoned nearly all other work in 1910 to focus on the Sagrada Familia, which he had begun in 1882, cloistering himself onsite and eventually living full-time in its workshop. Nicknamed God’s Architect due to his profound faith and dedication of his greatest work to the Catholic Church, he dedicated the last years of his life trying to complete the cathedral until his untimely death in 1926. Gaudi was apparently untroubled during his life by the extremely long construction period of the Segrada, as he famously remarked: "My client is not in a hurry."

Gaudi's Casa Batlló, defined by its skeletal-like exterior and sculptural stonework, decorated with roses for the 'Festival of Sant Jordi', which is the Catalan equivalent to Valentine's Day

Casa Mulleras on Passeig de Gràcia by Enric Sagnier who restyled this 1868 building in 1906 altering the entire facade with a classical style combined with rococo inspiration 

Built for chocolate baron Antoni Amatller, this playful building by Modernist architect Puig i Cadafalch features this ornate window that was the baron's devoted daughter Teresa's bedroom

The central court of the belle étage of Casa Amatller with extraordinary staircase leading to the piano mobile, which at the time was the floor of the wealthy resided

Staircase leading the the piano mobile, which now houses the Amatller Institute of Hispanic Art

Casa Lleó Morera by Lluís Domènech i Montaner makes up part of the Illa de la Discòrdia known for its modernist buildings on Passeig de Gràcia, which also includes Casa Batlló and Casa Amatller

Casa Milà is the last building of architect Antoni Gaudí, before he devoted himself completely to the construction of the Sagrada Familia

With its curved limestone facade and handcrafted wrought-iron balcony railings, 
Casa Milà was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984

The Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudí's unfinished masterpiece, is one of Barcelona's most famous monuments and attracts 3 million visitors every year

Under construction for over 130 years, Antoni Gaudí's Sagrada Familia has entered its final phase of construction and is scheduled for completion in 2026

The Nativity façade was inspired by the gospels about the childhood of Jesus

'The Coronation of Mary' portrays Mary being crowned as Queen of Heaven by Jesus

Etsuro Sotoo, Japanese sculptor in the Temple since 1978, is the author of the sculptures of the six Musician Angels of the Nativity Facade

Full of optimism and joy, the bronze gates are inspired by nature and is full of leaves, flowers and insects, the creation of Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo 

A bronze salamander peers in through a window into the church

Inspired by nature, the pillars and branches symbolize trees rising up towards heaven,
with the central nave vaults soaring an incredible 150 feet in height

The nave in the Sagrada Familia with Gaudi's groundbreaking original hyperboloid vault

Sunlight steaming through the stained glass windows from the afternoon sun creates incredible light shows throughout the cathedral, like sun shining through a forests canopy

The columns are inclined as branched-like trees, such that the weight is routed directly over the pillars in the ground - all of this without using exterior buttresses

In the centre of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia stands the raised high altar with Christ on the cross, crowned by a glowing canopy decorated with vines and grapes

Gaudí said that colour was the expression of life, which is why he decided to make its presence felt in the Sagrada Familia

The gorgeous stained glass window of the Nativity Facade with a kaleidoscope of colours

Reflection on the polished marble floor

Resembling a dense forest of trees with sunlight shining through it, Gaudi said that everything he designs “comes from the Great Book of Nature”

Pillars and arches transform the interior of the church into a stone forest of palm trees and flowers saturated with light streaming in through the banks of stained glass windows

Spanish glazier Joan Vila-Grau has been working on the design of the windows of the Sagrada Familia since 1999, for none were completed before Gaudis death in 1926

 The light shining through the rose windows move up the columns like flames

Gaudi designed the windows with a spectrum of hues to create a symphony of colour 

The cathedral interior is most striking mid-morning and mid to late-afternoon when sunlight strikes the windows directly

Bronze statue of Saint George by Josep Maria Subirachs, decorated with roses for Sant Jordi Day

Giant clam shells donated from the Philippines serve as holy water fonts throughout the cathedral

In contrast to the highly decorated Nativity Façade, the Passion Façade is austere, plain and simple, with bare stone carved with harsh straight lines to resemble the bones of a skeleton

 Gaudí wanted the Sagrada Família to be a huge bible in stone, with the Passion Façade 
intending to portray the sins of man

Fanciful sculptural details crown each of the cathedral eight spires

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