Antoni Gaudí i Cornet ( 25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926) was a Spanish Catalan architect born in the Catalonia, region of Spain and leader of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí’s works reflect his highly individual and distinctive style and are largely concentrated in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, notably his magnum opus, the Sagrada Familia.
Much of Gaudí’s work was marked by his big passions in life
Much of Gaudí’s work was marked by his big passions in life: architecture, nature, religion. Gaudí studied every detail of his creations, integrating into his architecture a series of crafts in which he was skilled: ceramics, stained glass…
After a few years, under the influence of neo-Gothic art and Oriental techniques, Gaudí became part of the Modernista movement which was reaching its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work transcended mainstream Modernisme, culminating in an organic style inspired by nature.
Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his works
Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his works, instead preferring to create them as three-dimensionalscale models and molding the details as he was conceiving them.
Gaudí’s work enjoys widespread international appeal
Gaudí’s work enjoys widespread international appeal and many studies are devoted to understanding his architecture. Today, his work finds admirers among architects and the general public alike. His masterpiece, the still-uncompleted Sagrada Família, is one of the most visited monuments in Catalonia.
Personal life – Gaudí devoted his life entirely to his profession
Gaudí devoted his life entirely to his profession, remaining single. He is only known to have been attracted to one woman—Josefa Moreu, teacher at the Mataró Cooperative, in 1884—but this was not reciprocated. Thereafter Gaudí took refuge in the profound spiritual peace his Catholic faith offered him. Gaudí is often depicted as unsociable and unpleasant, a man of gruff reactions and arrogant gestures. However, those who were close to him described him as friendly and polite, pleasant to talk to and faithful to friends.
Gaudí’s personal appearance
Nordic features, blond hair and blue eyes—changed radically over the course of time. As a young man, he dressed like a dandy in costly suits, sporting well-groomed hair and beard, making frequent visits to the theatre and the opera and visiting his project sites in a horse carriage. The older Gaudí ate frugally, dressed in old, worn-out suits, and neglected his appearance to the extent.
Gaudí left hardly any written documents
Gaudí left hardly any written documents, apart from technical reports of his works required by official authorities, some letters to friends (particularly to Joan Maragall) and a few journal articles. The only written document Gaudí left is known as the Manuscrito de Reus (Reus Manuscript) (1873–1878), a kind of student diary in which he collected diverse impressions of architecture and decorating, putting forward his ideas on the subject. Included are an analysis of the Christian church and of his ancestral home, as well as a text about ornamentation and comments on the design of a desk.
Gaudí’s professional life was distinctive in that he never ceased to investigate mechanical building structures. Early on, Gaudí was inspired by oriental arts.
The influence of the Oriental movement can be seen in works like the Capricho, the Güell Palace, the Güell Pavilions and the Casa Vicens. Later on, he adhered to the neo-Gothic movement that was in fashion at the time, following the ideas of the French architect Viollet-le-Duc. During his time as a student, Gaudí was able to study a collection of photographs of Egyptian, Indian, Persian, Mayan, Chinese and Japanese art owned by the School of Architecture. After these initial influences, Gaudí moved towards Modernisme.
This study of nature translated into his use of ruled geometrical forms such as the hyperbolic parabloid, parabloid, hyperboloid… which reflect the forms Gaudí found in nature.
Death – he was struck by a passing tram
On 7 June 1926, Gaudí was taking his daily walk to the Sant Felip Neri church for his habitual prayer and confession. While walking along the between Girona and Bailén streets, he was struck by a passing tram and lost consciousness. Assumed to be a beggar because of his lack of identity documents and shabby clothing, the unconscious Gaudí did not receive immediate aid.
Eventually a police officer transported him in a taxi to the Santa Creu hospital,, where he received rudimentary care. By the time that the chaplain of the Sagrada Família, Mosén Gil Parés, recognised him on the following day, Gaudí’s condition had deteriorated too severely to benefit from additional treatment. Gaudí died on 10 June 1926 at the age of 73 and was buried two days later. A large crowd gathered to bid farewell to him in the chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the crypt of the Sagrada Família.