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The Architecture of Antoni Gaudi in Spain

Antoni Gaudi is my favourite architect. His organic, fluid forms that characterize his work are both easy on the eye and require thorough attention.

Antonio Gaudi

(b. Reus, Spain 1852; d. Barcelona, Spain 1926)

The son of a coppersmith, Antonio Gaudi was born in Reus, Spain in 1852. He studied at the Escola Superior d'Arquitectura in Barcelona and designed his first major commission for the Casa Vincens in Barcelona using a Gothic Revival style that set a precedent for his future work.

Over the course of his career, Gaudi developed a sensuous, curving, almost surreal design style which established him as the innovative leader of the Spanish Art Nouveau movement. With little regard for formal order, he juxtaposed unrelated systems and altered established visual order. Gaudi's characteristically warped form of Gothic architecture drew admiration from other avant-garde artists.

Although categorized with the Art Nouveau, Gaudi created an entirely original style. He died in Barcelona in 1926.

His first important job was the Casa Vicens in Barcelona (1883-1888). This summer residence of a ceramics dealer is a clear example of the furious work Gaudí did, which was reflected in the huge amount of details. Gaudí formed a strong relationship with the Güells, a family of industrialists who commissioned him with a good number of works and helped him gain prestige among Barcelona circles. The work he did for this family includes the Pavellons Güell (1884-1887) Palau Güell (1886-1888), Güell Cellars (1895-1898), the Crypt of the Colònia Güell (1898-1908) and the fantastic Park Güell (1901-1914). Gaudí’s other distinctive buildings include the austere Teresian College (1888-1889), Casa Calvet (1898-1900), one of the only works for which Gaudí won an award, Bellesguard villa (1900-1905), Casa Batlló (1904-1906), where he remade the facade into a brilliant work of color and texture, and Casa Milà (1904-1906), also known as La Pedrera and the architect's last civil work. Outside of Barcelona, Gaudí did other emblematic work, such as El Capricho (Santander, 1883-1884), the Episcopal Palace of Astorga (León, 1889-1893), Casa de los Botines (León, 1892) and the restoration of the cathedral of Majorca. Equally important were his links from when her was just a young man with the Sagrada Familia church which would play a role in intensifying his deep religiosity, and finally his exclusive dedication to resolving the problems which arose in putting his own architecture into practice. From the time he began to work on it, in 1884, he dedicated more and more time to it to the point that he stopped accepting other work in 1908 and worked on it up until his sudden death in 1926. The church, still under construction 115 years after work was begun, has since become one of Barcelona's most noteworthy landmarks. Nonetheless, all of his works are monumental enough to make them masterpieces.

Text kindly provided by Jonathan D. Meltzer from his excellent Gaudi Central website.

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