GAUDÍ, Antoni
(b. 1852, Reus, d. 1926, Barcelona)

Biography

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet, Spanish Catalan architect. He was one of the most original designers of his generation. Beginning with a deep interest in Catalonia's medieval history and architecture combined with a respect for craftsmanship and structural logic, he used nature as a source of inspiration for structure and ornament to develop a highly personal, organic style. This style is characterized by sculptural plasticity, the manipulation of light and the use of mosaics and polychromy. Later he was acclaimed as a genius of Catalan Modernisme, a style related to Art Nouveau, but his work went far beyond ornament to embrace a more fundamental representation of nature through a structural form.

Gaudí was both devout and socially committed. In order to be able to translate his ideas into practice, he decided to become an architect, and from 1873 to 1878, he went to the Escola Superior d'Architectura in Barcelona. Even while he was still a student, he gained his first commissions. In 1883, he took over the site management of La Sagrada Familia church, financed entirely from offerings and donations, and this project remained closest to his heart to the end of his life. In the same year, he became acquainted with his patron and later friend, Count Eusebi Güell, for whom he built the Palau Güell in 1886-89. In 1900, the Count commissioned him to build a garden suburb (now the Parc Güell), which reflects Gaudí's endeavours to design and build his structures that have the effect of being an organic part of nature.

Gaudí's architecture is different not only from anything that had gone before in Barcelona but also from the work of his contemporaries. His stylistic borrowings are mainly from Catalan Gothic. His efforts to improve Gothic structural systems statically, coupled with his love of experimentation and fantastic imagination, produced some unusual structural forms. His use of multi-coloured mosaics in ornamentation and the play of light and space transform his buildings into monumental sculptures. His mosaic, furniture and other craft objects are likewise distinguished for their abstract forms and the recreation of objects in unfamiliar guises.

Antoni Gaudí's major architectural works are the following.