The rich colors and textures of Antonio Gaudi
April 24, 2003
Through his work in the city of Barcelona, Antonio Gaudi (1852-1926), one of the world’s great architects, left an extraordinary mark on the world of design.
Among his works are the towering but still unfinished Church of the Sagrada Familia; the long flowing bench at the Güell Park, decorated with bright pieces of broken ceramic; La Pedrera apartment building, with its strange rooftop chimneys; the undulating exterior of the Casa Batllo, just a few blocks down the Paseo de Gracia; and the sculpted wood and attention to detail in simpler projects like the Casa Calvet.
Gaudi was born in Reus, south of Barcelona. His father was a coppersmith; in fact, there was a long tradition of craftsmanship on both sides of his family.
This rich tradition contributed to a body of work that has, as much as anything else, defined the image of Barcelona. But there were other factors as well: the availability of skilled workers throughout Gaudi’s working years; patrons like Eusebio Güell, who provided great artistic freedom as well as financial support; and, of course, Gaudi’s own genius.
In his later years, Gaudi became increasingly religious. When Güell died in 1918, work stopped on his projects and the architect focused the remainder of his life on the Sagrada Familia. He lived in his small workshop there at the end of his life, ragged and preoccupied, committing what little money he had left to this staggering, complex project.
Little would he imagine that today, almost 80 years later, his work has probably done more to drive the economy of Barcelona than that of anyone else in Barcelona’s history.
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Morgan Smith is a former Aspenite and part-time Barcelona resident. He can he reached at email@example.com