Who was Gaudi

Antoni Gaudí - Architect of Modernism

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the very own style of Modernism blossomed in Catalonia. Barcelona was the center of Spanish Art Nouveau and to this day numerous buildings from this period can be admired all over the city.

From small circumstances

Antoni Gaudí was born on June 25, 1852 in Reus, a small town near Tarragona. As the son of a coppersmith, he grew up in modest circumstances. As a child he was plagued by rheumatism and the pain accompanied him all his life.

The illness prevents young Antoni from romping around on the street with other children. Doctors prescribe a strict diet and moderate exercise. So he roams the area on long walks - a rather unusual occupation for the 19th century.

During his school days in Reus, Gaudí began to be interested in architecture. At the age of 17 he finally went to Barcelona to study architecture. During his student days, Gaudí lived in modest circumstances and earned some money in the offices of some architects.

A very unique mix of styles

The teaching of the French monument conservator Viollet-le-Duc (1814 to 1879) had a great influence on the architecture of the time. This propagates the style of a "New Gothic", but warns against an uncritical adoption of old models. Instead, he advocates an analysis of large buildings from the past. New knowledge for contemporary architecture should be drawn from it.

Gaudí puts this theory into practice. As a student, he already showed his tendency to mix different styles and thus create buildings with a very unique character. It doesn't get him particularly good grades. At least one of his theses - a design for a university auditorium - just got the grade "passed".

The order

Gaudí was not known to the general public in 1883. He has not yet tackled the first spectacular buildings - the Casa Vicens, the El Capricho country house and the Palacio Güell - when he received his most important commission: the construction of the Sagrada Família, the cathedral of the Holy Family.

In November 1883, Gaudí took over this project from Francisco del Villar, who fell out with the client. This job will keep him busy all his life, and even exclusively for the last few years.

The ambitious architect wants to build a "church for the poor"; la Sagrada Família is to go down in architectural history as unique and revolutionary. It is typical of Gaudí's way of working that he changes and redevelops the plans several times during the construction work.

The financial resources, which are mainly made up of donations, are limited. During Gaudí's lifetime, only the crypt, apse, Christmas facade and one of the bell towers were built.

After Gaudí's death, the dispute begins as to whether and how the grandiose building project should be continued. The passion facade was added from 1952, and in 1954 the foundation walls of the west facade (passion facade) were tackled. On the 50th anniversary of Gaudí's death, the spiers on the west facade will be completed.

Today there are eight towers in total that tower high above the city. Antoni Gaudí's life's work is still unfinished, construction cranes and scaffolding surround the most visited monument in Barcelona.

The patron

A personal acquaintance influenced Gaudí's work for almost as long as the construction of the cathedral. At the Paris World Exhibition, where some of his projects can be seen, he met the textile manufacturer Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi (1846-1918). The cultivated industrialist becomes the young architect's friend and supporter.

In 1886, Gaudí began building Güell's house, which he expanded into a palace. Instead of starting the project with a finished plan, he is constantly developing it further during the construction work.

His peculiar way of working is reminiscent of plants that are constantly changing as they grow. The mix of different style elements is also typical for him. Carefree he mixes Art Nouveau metal ornaments, pointed arches reminiscent of Gothic, Moorish tile ornaments and bizarre figures that spring from his imagination. Gaudí also designed a wine cellar in Garraf and the fantastic Parc Güell for Eusebi Güell.

Art for living

Another of Gaudí's clients is the industrialist Josep Batlló, whose house he has completely redesigned. The Casá Batlló with its kite-like roof is a bold and revolutionary building for the time.

Gaudí began his largest residential project in 1906 with Casa Milà, which was completed four years later. The peculiar facade not only creates enthusiasm, but also ridicule. "La Pedrera" - quarry - is quickly the nickname for the unusual building. It will be Gaudí's last secular building. In 1914 he decided to devote himself only to the Sagrada Família church.

On June 7, 1926, Gaudí was hit by a tram while walking. He dies three days later in the Hospital de la Santa Creu in Barcelona. The whole city is in deep mourning. Thousands give him the final honor.

The government ordered his burial in the still unfinished Sagrada Família church, the Pope gave his consent. Antoni Gaudí finds his final resting place where he has worked for most of his life.