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During childhood Gaudi suffered from rheumatic fevers, which kept him at home a lot, due to this, he devoted much of his time to observing plants and animals and their structures (Browne 111). He focused on the forms nature took on, which can be seen in his works today. In Europe, where political and cultural renaissance was occurring, Gaudi looked to many inspirations to occupy his time and to find a direction for his work (Browne 108). There were many inspirations which influenced his designs. To name a few; he studied Mudejar style, medieval books, oriental structure, Gothic art, the Art Nouveau movement and especially the beauty and wonder of nature. All of these inspirations strongly influenced his designs and what made him a one-of-a-kind architect and revolutionary thinker. Including the styles and designs which had an impact on him, his religious faith played a major role on the reasoning behind the creation of his masterpieces, which can be seen especially in la Sagrada Familia.
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With an organic model in mind Gaudi based his work on the premise that if nature is the work of God, and if his architectural forms are inspired and derived from nature, than the best way to honour God is to design his work based on what God has created (David 25). Gaudi’s la Sagrada Familia is the most famous structure to be seen in Barcelona. Its immense and overwhelming force of spirituality and holiness makes it an unforgettable structure around the world. This building has become a symbol for the city and speaks volumes not only for his love to his city but to his devotion to religion. It seemed that as Gaudi grew older his views on society, culture and especially religion became more and more extreme. Gaudi felt that Barcelona and perhaps all of society should pay due to his Catholic God through repentance and prayer (David 31). The architect was so obsessed by this project that he even slept in the temple. Gaudi was a very complex and at times a misunderstood man. His architecture was radical and ground breaking, but he was a profoundly conservative Catholic. At a time when scholars in Barcelona were moving towards the left, Gaudi remained traditional towards his religion (Gomez 13).
His work reflects the natural curved forms which nature takes on. There are no straight lines in nature; therefore his work should have no straight lines. In his work he uses soft and fluid structures rather than harsh formations of solid lines. He noticed the strength the shapes of nature took, so he tended to mimic the shapes he saw in nature to his designs. An example of this is Casa Mila, which has no interior walls but pillars and arches to support the building (Pier 17). The exterior and interior mimics the flow that waves make in the sea (Pier 19). These waves are then carried out onto the roof which has a view of overwhelming irregular chimneys, which take on the form of soldiers standing tall. These chimneys, much like Gaudi’s other work are covered with multicoloured broken tiles. Many architects overlook the use of colour, which Gaudi certainly did not. He adorned many of his buildings with coloured tiles arranged in mosaic patterns, which added yet another important element to his architecture. His combination of adding vibrant colour, interesting shapes and stone framework to original designs gave Gaudi’s viewers a truly breathtaking and intense visual experience.
Another one of Gaudi’s famous iconic masterpieces is Casa Batlló. It amazes and awes anyone who looks upon this building with its swirling fantasy and creativity. Casa Batlló was not built from the ground up, but rather restored (Lafuente 72). The façade of the old house was transformed with Gaudi’s creative flair and vision. His ideas ran wild all over the building, producing a structure that engulfs Gaudi’s perfect representation of his own artistic image (Lafuente 75). Gaudi’s vision was about being able to push the boundaries of not only architectural structure but the boundaries of the society he lived in. The façade of the building has balconies which look like skulls, the pillars to support these balconies look like bones. Gaudi found the shapes and movement in marine life to be quite fascinating and became an inspiration not only for this building but for many others (Louis 10). He used the colours and shapes which would be found in the water by using shining glass tiles which adorn the front of the buildings walls (Louis 11). These tiles then carry on to the scaled roof, to emulate the large spine of a dragon. Nothing has ever come close to the meticulous adornment Gaudi sets into his designs and work. The power of his invention, desire, imagination and vision has never been united with such buildings to maintain their functionality and efficiency. Casa Batlló is able to capture child like fun and imagination among the blur of a chaotic urban city.
Gaudi used to say that only men drew straight lines and that God and nature much preferred curves (Radford 573). He was able to take concrete and stonework to make it flow, swirl, curve and surge into almost enchanted and magical forms that seem to have been born out of the imagination of a highly creative child. Looking toward the future, the lesson of Gaudi is not to copy his designs and ideas but to rather look at his work and nature for inspiration, for nature does not go out of fashion. Leading the Spanish Modernist movement, Gaudi had a desire to go beyond anything that had ever been done before. Defying labels, Gaudi’s work might be simply called, Gaudi-ism (Radford 574). During Gaudi’s life he was the main focus to a lot of criticism towards his unique ideas and styles. But, of course as with many truly gifted people, he was not completely valued and respected until after his death. He will be honoured for his work and for his creative visions towards art, design and life.
Browne, C. “Gaudi’s organic geometry.” Computer & Graphics, 32 (2008): 105-115
David, T. “Inspiration: Sagrada Familia, Barcelona.” Building Design, (2008): 18-32
Gomez, J. “The evolution of Sagrada Familia construction.” Informes de la Construction, 61 (2009): 5-20
Lafuente, P. “A world of his own.” Art Review, 54 (2003): 70-75
Louis, B. “Homage to Barcelona.” The Art Book, 15 (2008): 10-11
Pier, A. “Gaudi’s Quest for an Architectural Language rooted in Natural Form.” Sculpture Review, 59 (2010): 16-23
Radford, R. “Barcelona: Gaudi.” The Burlington Magazine, 144 (2002): 573-574
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