Antoni Gaudi – Catalan architect and designer
Antoni Gaudi was the Catalan architect and designer.
Antoni Gaudi i Cornet was born on June 25, 1852, in the Catalan town of Reus near Barcelona. Antoni was the fifth and youngest child in the family and suffered from rheumatism since childhood. Limited mobility prevented the boy from playing with other children, and he became addicted to long solitary coastal walks. The boy liked to look at the sea and the clouds, carefully examined the snails – all this developed in him observation and love of nature.
Two his brothers died in infancy. The third brother died when Gaudi was 24 years old. Soon the mother died. In 1879, his sister died and left a small daughter to Antoni. In 1906, his father passed away, and six years later, his niece died too.
Gaudi was left alone. He was never married, he had no close friends.
He studied at the School of Architecture in Barcelona (1874-1878). “Gentlemen, we have either a genius or a madman”, said the director of the School of Architecture, handing the diploma of Gaudi.
His first important commission was a house for Manuel Vicens in Barcelona (1878-1880).
In 1884 Gaudi succeeded Francesco Villar as the architect of the Church of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. In it, Gaudı´ joined the Neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau styles to produce one of the most dramatic architectural compositions of the 19th century. Gaudi sought to recreate the whole cosmos in it. Critics wrote that the architect suffered from dangerous arrogance, inexplicable pride and vanity, and behaved as if architecture owed him its existence. The building of the cathedral was visited by King Alfonso and Infante Isabella, cardinals and papal nuncio, Dr. Albert Schweitzer and Pablo Picasso, who called it an architectural heresy. Gaudi wanted the building to resemble a huge organ. Then the wind, passing through the holes of the towers, would sound like a real chorus.
In 1885 Gaudı´ began a series of works for Eusebi Güell, a textile manufacturer. These include the Güell Palace in Barcelona (1885-1889); a chapel for the Güell Colony and an unsuccessful housing development in the city, now known as the Park Güell (1900-1914).
Two residential projects in Barcelona are among Gaudi’s major works. He remodeled a building as a home for the Battlo family (1905-1907). The Battlo House is known as the “house of bones” because the balconies of its front facade resemble bones and skulls. The Mila House (1905-1910) suggests the Mediterranean that washes the shores of Catalonia.
Gaudi was a lifelong bachelor. He was a strict vegetarian and believed that food only distracted from the fruitful work. During one particularly strict fasting, he nearly died of starvation…
Antonio could not stand geometrically correct and closed spaces, he avoided straight lines, believing that the straight line is from the person, and the circle is from God.
After 1914 he refused all commissions, to devote himself full time to the Sagrada Familia.
On June 7, 1926, 73-year-old Gaudi left the house to go on his daily journey to the church of Sant Felipe Neri. Walking absent-mindedly along the street he was hit by a tram and fainted. The drivers refused to take the untidy, unknown old man to the hospital without money and documents. In the end, Gaudi was taken to the hospital for the poor, where he received only primitive medical care.
He died on June 10, 1926, and was buried in the crypt of his beloved Sagrada Familia.
After his death the construction of the cathedral did not stop. The war broke out in Spain in 1936 and the construction was briefly interrupted. The anarchists destroyed almost all the blueprints and mock-ups left by Gaudi for the followers. But the construction continued in 20 years and continues to this day. Currently, the construction is headed by a Catalan architect and painter, Josep Maria Subirachs.
It is interesting that the famous English writer George Orwell believed that the architect’s works were the ugliest structures in the world.
Salvador Dali, on the contrary, admired the works of the architect and even organized the celebration of Gaudi in the Park Güell in 1956. This allowed raising funds for the continuation of the construction of the Sagrada Familia. The love of the whole life of Gaudi continues to live.