29 August, 2006

My Heroes: (12) Antoni Gaudi

1852 - 1926
Antoni (sometimes known as Antonio) Gaudi was an architect most of whose work is in Barcelona, Spain. As a child he suffered with severe rheumatism and had to ride on a donkey to move around. Because he consequently moved rather slowly he became very observant of nature and developed a keen interest in it. It is believed that this strongly influenced his architectural style, which is generally categorised as being Art Nouveau but it is really rather unique. Art Nouveau is characterised by flowing lines as found in nature and a kind of anthropomorphic look in architecture. In Great Britain it is exemplified by the works of Charles Rennie Macintosh and Aubrey Beardsley. In the United States Louise Comfort Tiffany is probably it’s most famous exponent
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
His most famous building is La Sagrada Familia (The Holy Family) Basilica in Barcelona. It is a huge church, not a cathedral, and it was Gaudi's last great work and his masterpiece. It was concieved in the nineteenth century and work began in the 1880's and it continues to this day. When I saw it a couple of years ago many parts were covered in scaffolding. It is the most amazing sight which is visited by many hundreds of thousands of people every year - the detail is remarkable and it's humble architect, a devout Catholic, spent his last years working on it. He was run over by a tram in 1926 and died a few days later. He had been taken to a paupers hospital because he was dressed in rags.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, bazza. I enjoyed this post. Interesting that you mentioned Charles Rennie Macintosh because when I visited Scotland in 2001, I quickly learned how admired he is in the U.K. and came home with a beautiful postcard book of photographs of his work. I became interested in architecture in my late 30s, when I audited an art history class over my lunch hour when I worked at another college. As I learn more, I learn to appreciate more.Isn't that the way life is?

I'm glad I visited. I'll be back.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006  
Blogger jim said...

Very good info on the man, Bazza, I really enjoy this post, I have always admired Gaudi without knowing much about him. This is the third encounter with a 'passing' in the past hour on blogs. I did figure Gaudi was passed, but not in such a sad way. The other I heard about was Dan, the legendary hang glider master pilot, in San Francisco, shot in a parking lot for no apparent reason. I hate to hear this about anyone, never would expect it about Gaudi, such a thing, how could it happen?

His work is remarkable, I don't think it is classifiable at all, like you say unique. It is not finished enough or symmetrically arranged enough to be Art Nuveau if you ask me, not so much the symmetry but the 'following suit' aspect that passes for symmetry in that art form, Gaudi is freer and more daring and fresh. Oddly I had not (or fail to remember) seen this most famous bldg, even tho I have had many many art history courses plus self-study. Also, I have never seen his picture either. Nor heard about the childhood realities. Amazing, Thanks, Bazza. I enjoyed it. He is something to really think about, the others tend to quickly get shoved back.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

Gem: Hi, thanks for visiting. I reccomend your new blog to anyone interested in books. Rennie Macintosh's work has an instantly recognisable quality. He was, of course, a Scot and the Glasgow School of Art is his greatest piece of architecture.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

Jim: I have been unable to discover why Gaudi looked like a pauper on that fatal day. He had continued to work on the Sagrada Familia over a perod of 43 years up to and including the day he was struck down. Taxi drivers had refused to take him to a hospital because of his appearance, fearing that they would not get paid. He was a modest and shy man and, consequently, there are few pictures of him. He would not give interviews or talk to the press. Even so, half of Barcelona turned out for his funeral.
I don't know anything about Dan the hang glider pilot. Sad story. I once skied off of a mountain in Switzerland on a hang glider and landed on a frozen lake in St.Moritz. I must have been nuts!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006  
Blogger dumbdodi said...

Dear Bazza

I thoroughly enjoy all your posts and specially your series on your heroes.
So much I learn and know from here. Thank you

Wednesday, August 30, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

Gaudi is one of my favourites too.

I hadn't realised that he was considered Art Nouveau.

I would like to know more about Art so I am pleased to get some inspiration from you.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006  
Blogger Raj said...

Hi, very informative post, well I don't know much about the famous architects but La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona in the pic is amazing. Really Mr. Antoni Gaudi must be one of the greatest architects.

I felt very sad about the way he died. How old was he when he died?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

Dumbdodi: You are too kind and if you enjoy these posts then I am happy.

Rob: There are a lot of Art Nouveau characteristics in his work but, as we have discussed elsewhere, labels are dangerous! He was really a one-off as so many of the 'greats' are. I am sure there will be lots more 'art' posts; it's my big subject.

Raj; Hi, Gaudi was 74 when he died but his father had lived to 93 and there was general longevity in family. Who knows how long he might have lived.
Barcelona is a remarkable city and the works of Gaudi are the icing on the cake.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006  

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