Antoni Gaudi Term Paper

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Antoni GAUDI

As some who has visited Barcelona, one would perhaps always remember the historical area around Los Ramblas, the old Gothic Cathedral or the Olympic Stadium, as well as the special charm of the city, proud in its Catalan spirit, but there is little chance that something is likely to impress you more than the presence of Antoni Gaudi in the city, his modernist creations, his dedication to the city and, even more so, the intrinsic relationship between the city and the architect. Indeed, Gaudi has only worked and created in Barcelona and the city represented to Gaudi something that Aix-en Provence was for another artistic genius, Cezanne: place of inspiration and artistic evolution, but probably also the only place where the interior effervescence could be properly exploited.

Brief Biography of Antonio Gaudi

Gaudi was born in 1852 in a family of coppersmiths, with long traditions in this field (his father was a several generations coppersmith and his mother came herself from a similar family). The physical rheumatism he was born with and which made walking hard and painful stuck with him his entire life. As a child, his rather stationary activity developed a keen sense of observation and an inner vision he was to carry with him his entire life. The observation spirit became one of his trademarks and was developed as a child: he used his free time observing animals and plants, their shapes and behavior, later to use them in his work. A true naturalist, drawing inspiration from the animal, vegetal and mineral world around, Gaudi would exploit everything that he learned in his early days.

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Legends incline us to believe that Gaudi's genius had manifested itself early during his primary education, as well as later on in University, through his keen observation spirit and his interest for detail. While any such stories should generally be looked upon with the same circumspection we would regard any legends about artists, three are two we should briefly mention. If true, they give a note on the inclinations of the artist in his childhood.

Term Paper on Antoni Gaudi Assignment

One such anecdote tells of one of the teachers in primary school giving a lecture and explaining that birds had wings for flying. Upon this information, Gaudi is said to have responded that the "chickens they had at his house had wings but didn't fly; they used them to run faster." As we would be discussing later on when referring to Gaudi's style and creations, as a naturalist, observing, depicting and representing in his works the world around in the clearest way possible was one of his works' general characteristics. The fact that he had such inclinations ever since his childhood is relevant in this case.

The second fact dates from his days at the Collegi de les Escoles P'es (Pious School) in Reus, where, even if not by far the most outstanding student in his class and school, he was remarkable in his achievements in Geometry, where he had constant excellent grades. No doubt that his early geometry inclinations would later turn him to studying architecture and evolving along this path. Additionally, the objects around him would be transform later on into columns, decorations, ornaments, etc.

It would be during his university years that Gaudi was impacted by the first architectural influences. Studying medieval books, he came in contact with the Gothic style, which would be stylized in his maturity works and, most notably, in the Sacrada Familia. The Gothic, however, was only a starting point, because, as we read in one of Gaudi's later declarations, "the gothic is a dead system. We have to give him back life and treat the construction as naturalistically as possible"

It was also during this period that he became acquainted with the works of the British architect John Ruskin, who sustained that "ornament was the origin of architecture." Indeed, Gaudi would write in his diary later on that "ornamentation plays an essential part, in that it gives character, but nevertheless it is no more than meter and rhyme in poetry." In many ways, the foundations, both theoretical and practical, and sources of inspiration for his creation were discovered in his early years.

His first largest project upon the completion of his studies was the workers' housing in a factory called the Cooperativa Mataronense ("Matar Cooperative"). The vision was "ahead of its time" and the beneficiaries had some reticence in accepting the project. As such, only part of the factory and a kiosk was in the end built, but the project was entirely presented at the Paris World Fair in 1878 and Gaudi's reputation began to pick off. It was during this period that he met his lifelong protector, patron and friend, Eusebio Guell, who would later finance much of his work and whose name remains intrinsically related to Gaudi's and to the creation of modernist Barcelona.

In 1883, Gaudi took charge of the Sacrada Familia project, which would occupy, in total, 43 years of his life, and which would remain the gem of his entire creation. Even if unfinished, the visionary ideas in the project, the colossal enterprise and human resource used entitles it to claim this position. It was by no means the only one. Gaudi worked on several other projects, many of them under the patronage of Eusebio Guell, but also under command from different other prestigious inhabitants of Barcelona at the turn of the century: Josep Batll (Casa Batll) or Pere Mila, member of the Spanish Parliament (Casa Mila).

Antonio Gaudi's work and creation: general characteristics, influences and styles

Gaudi's creation is so complex, so imaginative and visionary that deciding to describe its general characteristics and, perhaps, classify it in any way, is a serious task in itself. This is not the intention here, but having a look at some of the main components is a necessity before going on to describe some of his most important works.

It is just as difficult, because of his versatility, to strictly include Gaudi in a contemporary artistic style. Certainly, most tend to see Gaudi as belonging to the Catalan modernist current. This was characterized by originality of shapes and style and by strong influences present in the works, going back to the Arab occupation and the Spanish Renaissance.

I have already anticipated previously when referring to the architect's biography the importance that Gaudi attributed to decoration and ornamentation. This went as far as some critics denied him the quality of being an architect and preferred to refer to him as a decorator. Nothing falser: he invented the oblique column which he used to replace the traditional supporting arches in many of his buildings and especially in the Sacrada Familia, but also the parabolic arcades, abundant at the cathedral.

However, distinct of this mention, his taste for ornament and decoration would be primordial and would guide his creation. Indeed, one of the most relevant details about his methodology is the fact that he combined concrete with traditional decorative means, such as ceramics or bricks. The use of ceramics in combination with concrete was a break with the traditionalism and an adherence vow to the modernist school, which allowed Gaudi to properly exploit his creed in a slow, painful, but fulfilling process of creation. Perhaps the best example of ceramics use in Gaudi's works is at the Guell Park. Deemed by some "obsessing," ceramics used in different colors and shapes makes for a beautiful aesthetic achievement.

On one side, we had the functionalist school, which sustained the idea that the best, cheapest and easiest construction means and material needed to be used, while on the other, architects such as Gaudi and Frank Lloyd Wright were classified as "megalomaniac and inclined to ruin." However, at last in Gaudi's case, his excessive inclination towards details and towards a constant improvement of his work came from the material security that the presence of his friend and patron, Eusebio Guell, brought about. The constant supply of work from him assured Gaudi the security he needed in order to complete his style and work according to his own time and credo.

This tendency and inclination towards ornamentation and decoration, following the Classic Gothic tradition (if we remember some of the most notable French cathedrals of the 12th and 13th centuries - all these have lots of decorative work on the outside facade), went hand in hand with naturalism, which seems to have formed the other strong characteristic of Gaudi's work.

Indeed, his sources of inspiration revolved around things he noticed in every day life and which he then represented, ad - literam or stylized in his buildings. In terms of structure, he used two natural elements to rely on. First, it was the tree and Gaudi himself once said that "the tree is my master." The tree allowed for the architect to use it as stylized columns or structural elements of support in his work. For example, if we look at the Guell Park, we will see petrified and stylized trees all over,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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