Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Barcelona - June 2012 - Gaudi

Barcelona - The city that wants to be its own country.  More on that later.  First, Barcelona needs to be broken into several posts because there is simply so much going on that the post would be way too long .  Tonight's post is about one of it's more famous citizens and his work - architect/artist Antoni Gaudi.

Gaudi was born in the 1850's to a family of iron workers.

This was his 3rd grade picture.  He was very mature for his age.  Iron work does that to a feller!

Two of Gaudi's most important works are the Sagrada Familia and the other is the Park Guell.  Neither were ever finished.

He was a founding father of Modernism in architecture.  My understanding of Modernism was that it seemed to reject lines and the norm.  For instance, Gaudi used wavy walls instead of straight walls.  He use broken tile in mosaics instead of bricks.  The colors he used colors remind me of someone on heroin or someone infatuated with Alice in Candy Land who is on heroin.

Around 1900, he tried to built a "new community" high in the hills overlooking Barcelona, but unfortunately, only one of the 60 plots sold and his city flopped, eventually becoming a park (part).

Gaudi lived in the Parc Guell for many years with his Dad and his sister.  "The Candy man can..." yeah! sing a along with me now!  "Yeah, the Candy Man can cause he makes the world go round!"

Park Guell was intended to be a residential estate in the style of an English garden city...  unfortunately, it was built in SPAIN!!  Helloooo! Anton, if Spaniards wanted to live in England they would have moved to England and changed their name from Juan to Ian.   (I wonder if Gaudi knew that it was England who  SANK the big Spanish armada in 1588 and basically made Spain a second world country for the next 300 years)  Great artist - weak businessman.
Word to the wise...it's okay to be different... just don't expect everyone to agree with what you are doing.

Frankly, I think Gaudi would have sold more houses if he'd pushed the, "view is astounding!"  Instead of the, "Hey I'm building some oversized gingerbread houses way the heck up a hill that makes walking to work an impossibility!"

He died in 1926, after being hit by a tram.   Ow!!   After his death, Gaudi's works suffered a period of neglect and were very unpopular because people considered them too excessively imaginative.... which is a polite way of saying that it looked like a child designed them.
Really??  I kinda like the lizard!

 Gaudi rarely drew detailed plans of his works, instead, he created clay models of them.
When Gaudi graduated from college, his Director handed him his diploma and said, "Either we've graduated a fool or a genius.  Only time will tell."  I do like the idea of a person who looks at something that has always been done a certain way and says, "Maybe there's a better way... or how about something different.  The curved walls can stay... the melted lava looking balconies - gotta go!  
"Honey come see this...Looks like a gargoyle heaved a giant loogee on our balcony!"

Barcelona has many Gaudi buildings, some were destroyed before people said, "Oh, he's a genius!".  This is a building designed by a Gaudi follower who also probably graduated from Candyland University.    " ...and here's your architectural degree.  We wrote it on a gumdrop for you!  And yes, you get a free can of play-dough!"

His first project as an architect were to design lampposts.  Kinda like being a student teacher and being allowed to grade the spelling tests.  I really liked Gaudi.  It seems natural that when you break from the norm, you might go a little overboard.  I think Zack liked Gaudi too, though it left him scratching his head!

In 1884, he was given the task of building a new cathedral for Barcelona called the Sagrada Familia.  He also started an wrought iron company... Hmmm.. can you say, "conflict of interest"?

It was kind of neat to see a cathedral actually being built.  However, not everyone felt that way.  Spain had a terrible civil war (the one Humphrey Bogart fought in) in 1936, and the Sagrada Familia was ransacked and most of the plans and models were destroyed.  But like all terrible civil wars (are there wonderful civil wars??), it ended, and work on the cathedral continued.  How cool to think that in 300 years from now, people will be walking by the cathedral and it will seem as though it's always been there.  And if I'm still around, I can say, "Yeah, I remember when they were building it and had giant cranes and..."

It wasn't until the 1950's, that fellow weirdo, Salvador Dali began to push Gaudi as a genius.  This is known as the One Enemy at a Time Effect.  The theory is that a bully can only pick on one person at a time, so Dali must have figured that as long as the press is blasting Gaudi... they'd lay off him!  Do I think it's weird to put fruit on top of your cathedral's spires, YES.  But it is different.  How many times have I heard people say, "I've seen one too many cathedrals... They are all starting to look alike."  Well, not this one.

Gaudi was extremely religious and due to his ascetic lifestyle, he received beatification in 2000.  Beatification for my non Catholic friends is the third step (of four) in being declared a saint.  To put that in perspective, I'm on step -48.