A WOMAN who believed she was the illegitimate daughter of surrealist painter Salvador Dalí has found out via the national press that the DNA samples did not match. But as neither she nor her lawyer have heard anything...
Antonio Gaudí: the triumph of imagination
THE greatest story of love between a city and an architect took place at the beginning of the 20th century, between Antonio Gaudí and Barcelona. This idyll continues to this day, given that the two names are inseparable from each other. Gaudí’s great work, Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Cathedral, is the most-visited monument in Spain.
Gaudí died before he could finish it, run over by a tram while he was supervising the works. Yet this amazing artist lives on in the hearts of Barcelona’s people and captivates those of everyone who visits this great city.
To get to know Gaudí, one must visit the residential homes he built in the Paseo de Gràcia, particularly Casa Batlló; and, of course, Güell Park, the first of his great creations.
To understand just how far the creativity and imagination of Spanish artists can go, one has to know Gaudí’s works. But, who was he, and what did he actually do?
Antonio Gaudí was born in 1852, son of a humble cauldron-maker. He was a fairly sickly child, suffering from regular rheumatic pains that on many occasions prevented him from enjoying such normal childhood activities as playing with his friends. These physical ailments would accompany Gaudí throughout his life.
It is still under debate whether he was born in Riudoms or Reus, two towns very close to each other in the province of Tarragona, although the majority of biographers believe he was born in Reus.
Gaudí relocated to Barcelona aged 17 with the intention of studying architecture, but due to lack of financial resources he had to combine his studies with working as a draughtsman and designer. This allowed him to work alongside well-known architects from a young age.
By the age of 26, Gaudí had qualified as an architect. Already, in Architectural College his great imagination caused him to stand out from the rest. Elies Rogent, director of Barcelona’s Architectural College, said at the time: “We’ve either given a diploma to a madman or a genius, but time will tell which one.”
Without doubt he was a genius, and like all of those, he was also a bit mad too. Although what the tourist wonders when he or she first sees the works of Gaudí in the flesh is whether the madmen were, in fact, the bourgeois Catalán businesspeople who agreed to build their homes completely according to Gaudí’s imagination.
What is important to understand is that these businesspeople – even if they were not geniuses – were indeed eccentric, very open to new ideas and without doubt in possession of great artistic awareness.
It was a Catalan businessman who discovered Gaudí: Eusebi Güell. The young architect had taken various of his more decorative works – among which was a stained glass window designed for a well-known glove shop in Barcelona, Casa Comella – to the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1878. Here, Eusebi Güell, a respected entrepreneur in the textile industry, was struck by the modernity and elegance of the window.
Such was the admiration that this work awoke in Eusebi Güell that, upon his return, he wanted to get in touch with the architect to give him a commission. This was the start of a friendship and business relationship that produced some of Gaudí’s most outstanding works, such as Güell Park.
A dragon of a doorman
The initial plan for Güell Park comprised the construction of a luxury model residential estate in the suburbs of Barcelona. This famous city-garden was supposed to include 60 family homes.
The area in which Güell Park is located today is almost free of any greenery – for this reason it became known as Montaña Pelada – with a rocky, stony, undulating surface and lacking in anything natural, so building anything here seemed like an impossible task in those days. Gaudí dealt with each of the obstacles in his way, one by one – from designing rainwater collectors to taking advantage of the steep slopes for
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