Exhibition: six crazy desires of Antoni Gaudi

♦ Floral

Grid of the Casa Vicens (1883-1885)

It’s not just the Sagrada Familia in Antoni Gaudi’s work, even though the famous cathedral occupied a large part of his life. While working there from 1882, when he was only 30 years old, the young architect also embarked on the construction of mansions for the wealthy bourgeois families of Barcelona, ​​then in full urban expansion. The first is Casa Vicens, a family country house designed in 1878 and then built five years later on land in Gracia, on the outskirts of the Catalan capital. Gaudi was inspired by the floral elements found on site: yellow marigolds, which he reproduced on the ceramic tiles of the facade, and palm leaves, which he made molds to make the motif of the grid of the building. ‘entrance. Vegetal allusions, the leitmotif of Art Nouveau, are numerous inside this summer residence, the style of which is also very marked by Orientalism and Mudejar art (Muslims of Spain who became subjects of the Christian kingdoms ).

→ CHRONICLE. Gaudi, the architect of God

♦ Animal

Güell Palace hairdresser (1886-1890)

Exhibition: six crazy desires of Antoni Gaudi

No Gaudi without Güell! The architect owes his artistic fortune to that of his patron, the eccentric industrialist and humanist dandy, Eusebi Güell, who discovered him in 1878. They share many points in common: their loyalty to the Catalan homeland, their religious faith and their attachment to nature. In the Güell Palace, built in the medieval quarter of Barcelona, ​​these commitments are reflected in the Mudéjar and Gothic references, the integration of a chapel in the main room under an openwork dome similar to a starry vault, and the vegetal and animals. Like Viollet-le-Duc, whom he admires, Gaudi likes to draw from a bestiary inspired by the Middle Ages. Resting on feet that look like deer legs, this wood and brass dressing table with whimsical curves seems to want to dance, as if animated by a natural movement. “A way of evoking the way in which the living constitutes its own energy”analyzes Élise Dubreuil, one of the curators of the exhibition at Orsay.

♦ Vernacular

Trencadis element of Park Güell (1900-1914)

Exhibition: six crazy desires of Antoni Gaudi

From a bare mountain northwest of Barcelona, ​​Eusebi Güell wanted to make an English-style garden city, a large park connected by tree-lined paths to common areas for culture and walking with a view of the city. . Intended for wealthy owners, the project was a commercial failure, but did not prevent the realization of the park where nature and architecture intertwine, in accordance with Gaudi’s thinking: rough stone and earth, trees and inclined pillars, perennials and parabolic arches. And along the belvedere, facing the urban horizon, undulating benches with a thousand bursts of color. With his colleague Josep Maria Jujol, Gaudi reinterprets an ancient and vernacular technique, the trencadíswhich involves covering a surface with ceramic shards. “This allows Gaudi to recycle scrap from industry but also to adapt the colored seat to its free forms, so much so that they seem directly sculpted in the ornamental material”comments Élise Dubreuil.

♦ Blue

Central patio of Casa Batllo (1904-1906)

Exhibition: six crazy desires of Antoni Gaudi

It is without doubt one of Gaudi’s most beautiful buildings. The architect is contacted by Josep Batllo, a textile industrialist, to redevelop a building on Passeig de Gracia, the central avenue of the new Barcelona. He kept the load-bearing structures but completely dressed the building in the colors of his dreams. With its shimmering shades and organic shapes, the facade, enhanced with wrought iron balconies that look like carnival masks, looks like something out of a fairy tale… Inside, the architect takes care of air circulation ( opening at the bottom of the doors) and light (parabolic arch at the top). Fascinated by the Mediterranean and the discoveries of underwater life, Gaudi multiplies the marine references on the doors, inlaid with woodwork and colored glass evoking seaweed and shells. The central patio is adorned with a gradient of ceramics ranging from pearly white to deep blue to direct the light to the lower floors. A splendor!

♦ Free

Facade of Casa Mila (1906-1912)

Exhibition: six crazy desires of Antoni Gaudi

In a caricature from the satirical press of the time, the Casa Mila was transformed, in the Barcelona of the future, into a garage hosting strange balloons in the gaps in its organically shaped facade. The building is out of the ordinary. Seduced by the Casa Batllo, the entrepreneur Pere Mila i Camps asked Gaudi to build him a huge building on the same Barcelona artery, at the corner of two roads. The architect uses reinforced concrete to design a free interior plan, rid of too many posts and partitions, replaced by elegant wood and glass screens. Animated by windows and undulating railings, the ocher facade evokes a perforated stone wall, which earned Casa Mila the nickname in Catalan of Pedrera (career). “These forms have an obvious relationship with the Baroque”, believes Isabelle Morin Loutrel, one of the curators of the exhibition. Others, like Dali, spoke of a “terrifying and edible architecture”

♦ Parabolic

View of the vaults of the Sagrada Familia (1882-1926)

Exhibition: six crazy desires of Antoni Gaudi

It is the project of his life. Gaudi knew he would never see his “big church” completed. It still isn’t, even though it was consecrated in 2010 in the presence of Benedict XVI. Very pious, the Catalan architect designed the Sagrada Familia as an expiatory temple after the anarchist attacks that rocked Barcelona in the 1890s and 1900s. neighbors of the site for the statuary of the Nativity facade. Anchored in modernism, the Sagrada Familia had to be current, therefore freed from the flying buttresses of Gothic buildings. A technical feat obtained thanks to parabolic arches and a forest of pillars dividing in height, like the trees and their branches.


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