Antonio Gaudi – the genius of modernity

Church of Colònia Güell (1898-1914)
Church of Colònia Güell (1898-1914)

Antonio Gaudi left a deep imprint on world architecture. It is almost impossible to visit Barcelona and not see the buildings built by this brilliant architect. Houses designed by Gaudí are a hymn to modernity and a hallmark of the Catalan capital. No matter how big a fan of football, bullfighting and temperamental Spanish wines you are, acquaintance with Barcelona should start with architecture.

Antonio Gaudi is one of the few architects who have made an invaluable contribution to the architectural heritage of mankind.

Casa Milà (La Pedrera) (1906-1910)
Casa Milà (La Pedrera) (1906-1910)

Biography of Antonio Gaudi

The Art Nouveau style of Antoni Gaudí was formed under the influence of Ruskin (John Ruskin), who proclaimed the idea that the basis of architecture is decorativeness. Another inspirer of the great genius is the Neo-Gothic ideologist Viollet de Duc. When Antonio just started his career, neo-gothic was in fashion. It was from her that Gaudi moved to his architectural phantasmagoria, it was the neo-Gothic that served as the basis for them.

Gaudi’s creations are integral with the landscape, so much so that they seem to be works of nature, and not of human hands. Buildings and parks resemble streams of waterfalls and rifts of mountain rivers, exotic creepers and dunes of deserts. The architect’s favorite technique is parabolic arches, which are associated with the Holy Trinity.

The Chalet Of Catllaràs, La Pobla De Lillet (1905)
The Chalet Of Catllaràs, La Pobla De Lillet (1905)

The great Spanish architect was born in 1852, on June 25th. The birthplace was the Catalan city of Reus. He was a weak, sickly child. In early childhood, he suffered a serious illness, the result of which was almost disability. Not being able to play with peers, he diligently discovered the world of nature, whose forms inspired him all his life. At the same time, it was difficult for the future celebrity to even hold a pencil in his hands because of his sore joints!

Casa Batlló (1904)
Casa Batlló (1904)

Genius or crazy Gaudi

The father’s profession (he was a coppersmith) also left its mark on the formation of the tastes of a genius. For hours the boy could watch the work of copper boilers and stills in his father’s workshop. Interest in drawing and architecture manifested itself early – already being a schoolboy at the College de los Padres Escolapios, the future great architect painted the theater curtain of the school studio, and in 1867 several works of the genius were published in the school magazine.

Fountain in Plaça Catalunya (1877)
Fountain in Plaça Catalunya (1877)

After graduation, Antonio Gaudi went to the Catalan Barcelona to continue his education. The next stage of his development as an architect was the Provincial School of Architecture. Father’s money was not enough for training, so the master worked as a draftsman. Along the way, he continued to study architecture and even create his first creations – lanterns, fences, furniture.

This was followed by projects of fountains, the central Barcelona hospital, the sea pier, the assembly hall and the cemetery gates. An interesting story is connected with the gate, which exhaustively characterizes the architect. It is said that when the architect received the commission, he first of all set about drawing the funeral procession in every detail. The teacher of the young talent was outraged, but Gaudi called him a fool who does not understand a damn thing about beauty, and, slamming the door loudly, left the student audience. It was this episode that caused the label “genius or madman” to appear, which accompanies the name of the architect to this day.

Bodegues Güell
Bodegues Güell

Friend and best patron of Gaudí

In 1876, Antonio lost his mother and brother, which was a heavy blow for him. But two years later, the bitterness of loss was diluted by the first professional success, which received public recognition. The city commissioned a craftsman to design a street lamp for one of Barcelona’s squares. And already in 1878, Gaudi became a certified architect and got a place with Eudaldo Punta (Eudaldo Punta)

Alas, graduation did not bring any serious financial benefits. Antonio Gaudí took on any job to support himself. One of his first orders – the design of a glove shop (its showcase) – became the reason for the meeting that changed the life of the architect. The designer assembled whole compositions with scenes of city life from gloves. And his work was closely watched by Count Eusebi Güell y Basigalupi, a Catalan industrialist, and in addition, a man who was not alien to art, who later became the main patron of Gaudi for Gaudi. It was Güell who instructed the architect to make sketches of buildings, which were later recognized as masterpieces of world architecture.

Basilica of the Holy Family (1883)
Basilica of the Holy Family (1883)
Early modern Gaudí

Throughout his life, the architect was a devoted Catholic. He has many projects for churches and cathedrals, including the Sagrada Familia, the Colónia Güell church, the crypt for the Monestir Santa Maria de Montserrat, and others. In parallel, the master worked on secular buildings. The last of these was Casa Milà. Alas, in 1926 the architect died, hit by a tram.

A distinctive feature of Antonio Gaudi was the ability not to use blueprints. He used models created right in the process of work, or was content with sketches.

Antonio Gaudi. Casa Calvet (1898-1899)
Casa Calvet (1898-1899)
Antonio Gaudi. Casa Vicens (1883-1885)
Casa Vicens (1883-1885)
Antonio Gaudi. Finca Miralles
Finca Miralles
Antonio Gaudi. House of the Booty, Leon (1891-1894)
House of the Booty, Leon (1891-1894)
Antonio Gaudi. The Caprice (1883-1885)
The Caprice (1883-1885)
Antonio Gaudi. The Gardens of Can Artigas, La Pobla De Lillet (1905-1906)
The Gardens of Can Artigas, La Pobla De Lillet (1905-1906)
Antonio Gaudi. Transatlantic Company (1888)
Transatlantic Company (1888)
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