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Gaudi, information

A short biography; for a more extensive biography, look at: www.gaudiclub.com Some pictures of several buildings designed by Gaudi in Barcelona 1883-1888 1884-1887 1886-1888 1888-1890 1898-1900 1900 1900-1914 1904-1907 1906-1912 1883-1926 Several interesting websites about Gaudi and his creations

Biographical information

1852 Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí Cornet is born on June 25, 1852, in Reus. He was the fifth and youngest son of a coppersmith. As a young boy he was fascinated by nature, it's shapes, colors and geometry.
1863 When he is eleven years old he attends the Collegi de les Escoles Píes in Reus, in the old monastery of Sant Francesc for his secundary education. He wasn't a brilliant student, but remarkably good in geometry.
1865 In 1865 (only 13 years old) Gaudi makes drawings for the magazine "El Arlequin". He makes friends with Toda, and together they make a blueprint for the reconstruction of the monastery of Poblet (which had been partially destroyed in 1835). These drawings are the first signs of his fondness of nature and the medieval arts.
1869 In 1868 Gaudi decides to study architecture in Barcelona. His father accompanies him and closes his workshop in Reus. Besides architecture, Gaudi also attends to lectures about philosophy, history, economy and esthetics, because he believed that the different architectonic styles were not only defined by ideas about beauty as well as by the social and political atmosphere of the time.
1876 Notes from a sort of diary have been preserved from this year. Between 1873 and 1876 both his brother Francesc and his mother died. His father had to sell the land he owned to pay for the study of his son.
Gaudi is very interested in the lectures of Francesc Llorens i Barba about philosophy and literature and the lectures of Pau Mila i Fontanals about the history of art. Gaudi works together with the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar on the monastery of Montserrat. He is also involved in making the decorations at the park La Ciuttadella in Barcelona (entrance gate) with the architect Josep Fontsere. He also works with the architect Joan Martorell Montells, who had a strong religious mind and many ideas about social reforms.

1878 In 1878, March 15, Gaudi graduates as an architect. In this year he also gets to know Eusebio Güell, the man who would become his most important customer and also his patron.
1878-1882 Gaudi makes his first designs, but biographers point this year out as an important one because he had a very disappointing experience in his love life. This should have brought about a profound spiritual change in him which would have a great influence on his whole life and his works.
1883 Gaudi makes a design for the chapel of the parish church of Alella, but the most important event is the denomination of him as architect of the Sagrada Familia. There had been established a committe in 1869 already, for the building of a 'temple of penance' and in 1882 the laying of the foundation stone took place. The first design was made by Francisco de Paula del Villar, but he renounced the job. Juan Martorell is suggested as his successor, but he hands the work over to Gaudi.
1883-1888 The first building projects of Gaudi: Casa Vicens at Barcelona where a clear Moorish influence can be seen with an abundant use of tiles and ironwork. The Moorish influences keep on strongly in Gaudi's later work, but integrated in a more personal style which Gaudi develops, in which certain aspects are emphasised and dramatised. Maybe the best way to describe it is by saying his style adapts to shapes common in nature, combined with a excuberant expressionism.
From 1884 on, Gaudi starts to carry out assignments for Eusebi Güell, like the pavilions at Pedalbres and Palace Güell in a side street of the Ramblas.

1888-1892 The name of Gaudi grows and he gets more assignments, also thanks to Eusebi Güell. In 1892 Gaudi makes a design for the catholic mission at Tanger and for the first time the pivot-like towers appear which would later dominate the image of the Sagrada Familia, an element which probably originated in Africa.1898-1914 As well as designing, restoring and rebuilding several houses (casa's: Casa Calvet, Bellesguard, Casa Batllo, Casa Mila and many others), Gaudi also often designs the furniture of these houses himself.
But the most important project in these years is undoubtedly Parc Güell. This park is situated on the Pelada-mountain and has a surface of 15 square hectares. Gaudi refuses to adapt the landscape, but let the art adapt to the existing nature. In 1905 he moved to the park to live there, with his father and his niece, in a house made by his colleague and friend Beringuer. Nowadays the house is a Gaudi-museum. Shortly afterwards his father died.
There are also 2 fairy-tale like houses in this park, but originally 60 of such houses had been planned. For lack of interest and financial reasons this project was stopped.

1914-1926 The last 12 years of his life Gaudi dedicated himself totally to the construction of the Sagrada Familia. In his personal life he seems to turn his back more and more on the earthly world and turns more to the spiritual world which is clearly visible in the building activities at the cathedral. On June, 7th 1926 he is overrun by a tram and 5 days later he dies. Nobody had recognised him on the street and was neglected for the first few days in the hospital.
We tried to visit as many builings designed and build by Gaudi in Barcelona but we didn't have enough time. Here are some of the pictures we made of the buildings we visited. This page will soon be updated with the photographs we made in September 2008!

Casa Vicens (Carrer de les Carolines, 1883-1888)

Casa Vicens was the first important building by Gaudi. It was build in assignment of the tile manufacturer Manuel Vicens Montaner. Gaudi recreates the mudejar-style, which was often used in Barcelona at that time, and surpasses it in this building. The combination of tiles and bricks is very eye-catching.

Casa Vicens
Casa Vicens
Casa Vicens
Casa Vicens
Teije before Casa Vicens

Pavilions Güell (1884-1887)

Between 1884 and 1887 Gaudi built the pavilions of the gatelodge and the horsestables on the land that the family Güell owned at Les Corts. This was the first assignment from Güell, who would later become his patron and best client. Unfortunately, the park was closed when we were there and we could only see what towered above the enclosure.

Finca Güell
Finca Güell
Finca Güell

Palau Güell (Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 1886-1888)

Palau Güell In the street Carrer Nou de la Rambla (a side street of the Ramblas) stands a majestic palace which Gaudi build for Güell and Bacigalupi. Güell didn't want a normal house, but a palace, to brag about against his friends and where concerts and exhibitions could be held.
Because the street is quite narrow it is almost impossible to make a picture of the whole building. Therefore only a picture of the dragon at the entrance.

Colegio Teresiano (1888-1890)

This building was an assignment of father Enric d'Osso, founder of the order of Teresian nuns. Unlike other projects, Gaudi had to submit himself to a rigorous financial accuracy. Because of that and the religious purpose of the building, it became one of the most sober buildings made by Gaudi. This soberness should be limited to the outside appearance of the building, but we couldn't get in, so we haven't seen it for ourselves. The building is very large and it is hard to get a good overview of it entirely.

Colegio Teresiano
Colegio Teresiano

Casa Calvet (Carrer Casp, 1898-1900)

This is probably the most 'boring' building Gaudi ever made and it is also the only one for which he received a decoration from the city council of Barcelona. Probably these two things are connected somehow, for the only assignments Gaudi ever got from the city were designs for lampposts. Nevertheless there are many symbolic details on and in this building, clearly showing Gaudi's personal style.

Casa Calvet
Casa Calvet

Bellesguard (1900)

In the beginning of the 15th century, Martin I (the Humane) ordered a country house to be build at the bottom of the Collserola mountains which he called Belleguard (nice view). On the same spot Gaudi, five centuries later, constructed a building in a remarkable neogothic style, for Maria Saques Molins. We had no time left to visit it in 2001, but in 2004 we were in the neighbourhood and the gate was open.

Bellesguard
Bellesguard
Bellesguard

Parc Güell (1900-1914)

Eusebi Güell wanted to build a residential area on an estate on the mountain Muntanya Pelada in the district La Salut, which had to be inspired by the garden-city concept. Here, the return to a healthful and natural state was propagated, a flight from the unhealthy city. Gaudi was busy with the construction of the park from 1900 until 1914 and went to live there himself, in 1906. Of the planned 60 houses, only two were build, for lack of interest and financial problems. The two houses that have been finished could have been taken unchanged from some fairy tale. Near the houses is a large temple with pillars. The lizard is connected to the water reservoir which is located under the colonnade. The several colonnades in the park appear to be natural formed caves and are strongly in contrast with other eye-catching and colorful elements, like the two fairy-tale houses.
The house where Gaudi lived from 1906 until his death in 1926 is also in Parc Güell. Nowadays it is a museum with furniture made by Gaudi himself. You can easily see the detail and craftsmanship that he put into his work. And unlike modern furnishings like recliners, conference room chairs and sofas that are built mainly for comfort first, the chairs and other furniture Gaudi built were all about style and how they looked.
We can surely recommend a visit to this park, but take your time when you are there, at least 3 or 4 hours. We think most of Gaudi's works are highlights, but this is probably the most pleasant to walk through.

Fairy tale house, Parc Gel
House of Gaudi
Bank, designed by Gaudi
Chair, designed by Gaudi
Fairy tale houses, Parc Güell

Fairy tale house, Parc Güell
Fairy tale house, Parc Güell
Fairy tale house, Parc Güell
Parc Güell
Parc Güell

Collonade, Parc Güell
Collonade, Parc Güell
Parc Güell
Collonade, Parc Güell
Collonade, Parc Güell

Collonade, Parc Güell
Collonade, Parc Güell
Collonade, Parc Güell
Collonade, Parc Güell
Collonade, Parc Güell

View from Parc Güell
View from Parc Güell

Casa Batllo (Passeig de Gracia, 1904-1907)

Josep Batllo Casanovas asked Gaudi to rebuild this house dating from 1877. The people of Barcelona at that time were very amazed about the building and soon it got nicknames like the house of caves and the house of yawns. The 2nd and 3rd picture have been made in 2001, the others when we could visit the inside of the building in 2004.
In 2004 it is 100 years ago thet Gaudi started the rebuilding of Casa Battlo and although the entrance fee is high (€ 16) we think a visit is really worthwhile. There is almost no straight line to be found iinside this amazing house and up to the roof it looks like coming from a fairy-tale.

Casa Battlo
Casa Battlo
Casa Battlo
Casa Battlo
Casa Battlo

Casa Battlo
Casa Battlo
Casa Battlo
Casa Battlo
Casa Battlo

Casa Battlo
Casa Battlo
Casa Battlo
Casa Battlo

Casa Mila (Passeig de Gracia, La Pedrera, 1906-1912)

The rich couple Mila-Segimon wanted a building on the Passeig de Gracia and hired the most famous (and most expensive) architect: Gaudi. The building not only created a monumental building, but also many differences of opinion between Gaudi and his customers. Gaudi was quite bitter by this and maybe that has made a contribution to the fact he never again made a non-religious building. More pictures will follow soon.

Casa Mila
Casa Mila
Casa Mila

La Sagrada Familia (1883-1926)

La Sagrada Familia is the life work of Gaudi, if only because he has been the main architect of this project for more than 40 years. The last 12 years of his life he was only working on this cathedral, not only as an architect, but also as an individual. The last years of his life it seemd as if the building directed his thinking and feeling more than the other way around. Gaudi shaped himself during the construction and the changes in the building plans seemed to affect and guide him personally. A human coming into being, never finished, always being formed and reformed.
Therefore, a lot of people are of the opinion the Sagrada should never be finished, if only for symbolic reasons. Architects either think the cathedral is hideous or are of the opnion that it's charms would be best showed by leaving it unfinished. And maybe that is how it would express Gaudi's views best. 'A finished painting is dead, it only lives while it is being painted,' Picasso once said (by the way, Gaudi detested Picasso). Maybe this is also true about this building. It is true the intended final result is based on sketches of Gaudi, and no matter how impressive the end result will be, it is certainly worth visiting this unfinished building while one still can fantasise about the result. The original building plans were lost during the Civil War.

The first time we came out of the metro station near the Sagrada Famila and we climbed the stairs to the surface, we had the feeling someone was watching us from behind. When we turned around we saw the Sagrada towering above us. A very impressive first sight.
For more information about the Sagrada Familia and the perception Gaudi had of it, we refer to the websites mentioned below. For us it will always be a miracle anyone could have ever come up with this idea to shape a cathedral like this. We can only admire such a unique and brilliant architect who has left this unfinished legacy to the world and the future...

La Sagrada Familia 2001
La Sagrada Familia 2001
La Sagrada Familia 2001
La Sagrada Familia 2004
La Sagrada Familia 2004

La Sagrada Familia 2001
La Sagrada Familia 2004
La Sagrada Familia 2001
La Sagrada Familia 2001
La Sagrada Familia 2001

La Sagrada Familia 2001
La Sagrada Familia 2001
La Sagrada Familia 2001
La Sagrada Familia 2001
La Sagrada Familia 2001

La Sagrada Familia 2004
La Sagrada Familia 2004
La Sagrada Familia 2004
La Sagrada Familia 2004

Websites about Gaudi


Gaudiclub Extensive site about Gaudi
Sagradafamilia Nice flash-site about the Sagrada Familia
Gaudi2002 2002: Gaudi-year in Barcelona
Pictures Many nice pictures
Picture gallery Fototour (in Spanish)
© Teije and Elisabeth 2000 - 2014
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with Elisabeth and Teije