28 Chapter 11 – Antoni Gaudi (part 1)

A Brief Summary: Antoni Gaudi

Rebecca Sevigny

Audio recording of chapter available here:



Antoni Gaudi, Casa Batllo, 1904

You know, there are artists who are well known for one of their many artworks. Like, everyone in general knows a specific piece out of the multitude creations the artist worked on during their lifetime. Take Antoni Gaudi for example, Antoni Gaudi was a Spanish architect known for his distinctive style in architecture during the late 1800s up to the 1920s in Barcelona, Spain. Some may have heard of him for his incomplete building – La Sagrada Familia – because he died before he ever got the chance to finish. [Okay, that sounds a bit depressing even without much context about how the architect passed away. That’s besides the point.] Some may recognise the building (or buildings) from looking through pictures on the internet. Some may never heard of the artist at all and have no clue on what I’m talking about. And that’s okay. It’s important to learn about the artist’s work and their impact on the art world because an artist’s work can influence other artists – even their not well known projects and incomplete ones too.

As mentioned before, Antoni Gaudi was indeed a Spanish architect born on June 25, 1852, in Reus, Spain; with numerous projects completed; and not completed during his lifetime. Though, one of Gaudi’s strongest aspects to stand out was indeed his consistent elements in the modernesque style consisting of free flowing movements inspired by nature and his own construction techniques he used throughout his lifetime.

During his lifetime, Gaudi had developed and changed his own style a few times, while art throughout Europe was generally more invested in the Victorian style. Basically he was one of the founders influencing the Catalan movement in the art world at the time. For instance, Gaudi’s style at one point was in a “Mudejar” style – a style consisting of a mix of both Spanish and Arabic artistic elements – to Neo-Gothic and even testing out Victorian and baroque styles in some of his earlier works.[1] It wasn’t until later on in his life he created his own modernesque style which can be considered to defy the traditional convention classification for stylizing. The main elements that are consistent throughout his work are his use of freedom, form, colour, texture, and organic unity. Although those elements are consistent, Gaudi’s style mostly emphasizes more of the natural movements and forms – and they’re inspired from his experiences growing up with nature around his birth place in Catalonia before moving to Barcelona. Construction wise, he developed a type of structure method he uses is the “equilibrated” – a structure designed to stand on its own without the use of internal support[2] – when creating both the Casa Batllo and the Casa Mila in his later life.

Antoni Gaudi, Casa Mila Rooftop, 1906

One of his completed works is the construction of two “apartments” called the Casa Batllo [constructed in 1904-06] and Casa Mila [constructed in 1905-10]. Well, the Casa Batllo was actually owned by a businessman, Josep Batllo, and granted Gaudi permission with full creative freedom in reconstructing the interior of the building. At one point, Batllo wanted the building to be destroyed but Gaudi convinced him to keep the exterior of the building.[3] Afterwards, the Casa Batllo was used for renting rooms out and owned by the Batllo family. Over the years after Batllo’s death, The Casa Batllo was owned by different businessmen in the 1950s until later owned by the Bernat family in the 1990s and is restored to its original designs to this day.

Casa Milà, general view.jpg
Antoni Gaudi, Casa Mila, 1906

On the other hand, The Casa Mila [also known as “La Pedrera”] was technically a residential house owned by a couple, Pere Mila and Roser Segimon, and Gaudi was commissioned to build their new home. However, during the construction there were a few complications such as Gaudi spending a bit over budget – which caused a bit of financial conflict between Gaudi and Mila and was taken to court. Gaudi eventually won the court case and Mila had to pay the fines for the property. Although Casa Mila was used to rent out rooms after completion, the public actually ridiculed the structure due to the unusual design and the relationship between Gaudi and Mila.[4] Casa Mila was also owned by different business companies and was generally used as another apartment complex. Currently, both the Casa Mila and Casa Batllo have become popular historical sights for tourists to visit in Barcelona.

Antoni Gaudi, Passion façade of the Sagrada Família, 1882-present

The most popular historical sight that Gaudi built was the Sagrada Familia – which was the one project he never had the chance to finish. Gaudi was working on the building in around 1883 and continued construction during the 1920s. Well, technically he ended up committed to completing the church due to the deaths and passing of family and friends throughout the 1910s; so he focused more on his work in the 1920s.[5] He was invested in completing the project to the point he moved his studio inside the building, declined any more commissions, plus changing personal habits like not taking care of his appearance and devoted more of catholic beliefs. If you think about it, the 1920s was around the time when work was starting to become a struggle prior to heading into the great depression and far after the First World War. It’s no wonder that his dedication, although impressive and determined, ended up costing his life.

In the last year of his life, Gaudi got hit by a tram when he was heading to his daily confessional at the Sant Felip Neri Church. He basically was left unconscious after getting hit for a couple days until he was taken to the Santa Creu hospital. Gaudi died on June 10, 1926 from his injuries and later buried at the crypt of the Sagrada Familia a couple days later.[6] What’s even more depressing was passerbys didn’t recognise the artist after being struck – so basically people ignored him because of his appearance (Gaudi was neglecting his appearance, focusing more on his work than social gatherings, and devoting more of a religious sentiment) and he didn’t have any identification on him.[7] It wasn’t until the Priest of the Sagrada Familia recognised him at the hospital. After his death, his legacy would continue on through other architects working on his work and his tourists visiting to see Gaudi’s monuments.

Sagrada Família, Columns.jpg
Antoni Gaudi, Sagrada Familia columns, 1882-present

To this day, Gaudi’s work became important pieces of art in the Art world as one of the few founders for modernism – especially in this day of age. Antoni Gaudi was indeed a Spanish architect. Yet the impact he participated during and after his lifetime affected the art world in more ways than one – even by a little.

Antoni Gaudi, Sagrada Familia Vault of the Nave, 1882-present

Bibliography

 

Biography.com Editors, “Antoni Gaudi Biography.” The Biography.com website, A&E Television Networks. Accessed September 20, 2020. https://www.biography.com/artist/antoni-gaudi

Bourdi Roberto, “What was Gaudi inspired by? – Everything you need to know.” Lugaris.com. Lugaris. Published May 8, 2020. https://www.lugaris.com/en/what-was-gaudi-inspired-by-everything-you-should-know/

Clericuzio Peter, “Antoni Gaudi Artist Overview and Analysis.” TheArtStory.org. The Art Story Contributors. Published May 2017. Accessed September 2020. https://www.theartstory.org/artist/gaudi-antoni/

Collins George R; “Antoni Gaudi.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. Published June 21, 2020. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Antoni-Gaudi

GCR staff. “Work rumes on Sagrada Familia but Covid-19 will slow it down.” Global construction review. Published September 17, 2020. https://www.globalconstructionreview.com/news/work-resumes-sagrada-familia-covid-19-will-slow-it/

“La Pedrera – Casa Mila, History” lapedrera.com, Fundació Catalunya La Pedrera. Accessed November 7, 2020. https://www.lapedrera.com/en/la-pedrera/history

Raga Suzanne; “Gaudi’s Accidental Death: Why The Great Architect Was Mistaken For A Beggar,” mentalfloss.com. Mental Floss. February 11, 2016. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/72482/gaudis-accidental-death-why-great-architect-was-mistaken-beggar

“The history of Casa Batllo” Casa Batllo Newsletter. Accessed November 7, 2020. https://www.casabatllo.es/en/antoni-gaudi/casa-batllo/history/

“The Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain..” Atlas Obscura. 2020 Atlas Obscura. Accessed November 7, 2020. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/sagrada-familia

“The traffic accident that killed Antoni Gaudi.” romereports.com, Rome Reports 2017. Accessed September 20, 2020. https://www.romereports.com/en/2020/06/10/the-traffic-accident-that-killed-antoni-gaudi/

“Where did Gaudi die?” Barcelonayellow.com. BarcelonaYellow, updated June 10, 2019. https://www.barcelonayellow.com/bcn-tourist/785-how-when-where-did-gaudi-die


  1. “Antoni Gaudi,” Encyclopedia Britticanna, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Antoni-Gaudi
  2. “Antoni Gaudi Biography,” A&E Television Networks, https://www.biography.com/artist/antoni-gaudi
  3. “The history of Casa Batllo,” Casa Batllo Newsletter, https://www.casabatllo.es/en/antoni-gaudi/casa-batllo/history/
  4. “La Pedrera - Casa Mila, History,” Fundació Catalunya La Pedrera, https://www.lapedrera.com/en/la-pedrera/history
  5. “Gaudi’s Accidental Death: Why the great architect was mistaken for a beggar,” The Mental Floss,  https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/72482/gaudis-accidental-death-why-great-architect-was-mistaken-beggar
  6. “The traffic accident that killed Gaudi,” Rome Reports, https://www.barcelonayellow.com/bcn-tourist/785-how-when-where-did-gaudi-die
  7. “Where did Gaudi die?” BarcelonaYellow, https://www.barcelonayellow.com/bcn-tourist/785-how-when-where-did-gaudi-die

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