Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Passion for Details: Antoni Gaudi

"Creation continues unceasingly through the Media of Man. But Man does not create he discovers. Those who search for the Laws of Nature as a support to their new works collaborate with the Creator. Those who copy do not collaborate. Therefore originality consists in returning to the origin.”

Antoni Gaudí

It has been said that original, new architecture, capable of changing everything, is produced by humanity only once every 700-800 years. With the suggested theme of It’s All in the Details at Splenderosa's International Blog Party, By Invitation Only, I could think of no better example than Antoni Gaudí as I strode through the beautiful streets of Barcelona. Gaudí's sincere devotion to his God and nature guided his inner sense, urging him to create with extreme details, down to each and every air vent not only having a function, but exhibiting beauty as well.

Antoni Gaudí the immensely creative, imaginative and controversial architect, was born in Reus, Catalonia, Spain on June 25, 1852 into a family of coppersmiths. He attended school first in Reus, later moving to Barcelona where he obtained his degree in architecture. 
At that time, the Romantic period was winding down and the Art Nouveau / Modern Style was exploding onto the scene, although Gaudí did not limit himself to any particular school of thought. Gaudí dedicated his work to cooperating with Nature and the Earth, described as organic naturalism; in his latter years, he also became devoted to his Catholic religion. He remained both a bachelor and a vegetarian. He defied the accepted building techniques, using nature as his inspiration. Gaudí combined the common materials of iron, concrete, brick, stones and mosaic with Arabesque geometry and elements of nature to express his deepest convictions. The architect had a close collaboration with his fellow Catalan artists: the stone masons, potters and blacksmiths, who carried out his instructions in great detail.


Gaudí was only 31 years old when he took over the already existing Sagrada Familia cathedral project. Although Sagrada Familia is considered his masterpiece, it is not his most personal creation. He was limited by the site (a small block in the middle of a crowded city) and the construction board, to whom he was subjected.

The forest of spires

The cathedral today presents two of the three facades that Gaudí had planned. The first, the façade of the Nativity, was begun in 1884 and finished in Gaudí’s lifetime. While the exterior is almost a Baroque profusion of statuary and organic elements, the interior is completely different with vast walls of geometry and light. 
The second façade, Passion, is now finished and the third, Glory, is under construction.

Nativity scene


 Snails and lizards were imitated to create these downspouts.

A bell tower with its “crown”

Gaudí’s work on Casa Batlló was actually a remodeling between 1906-1909 of an existing building. Its façade is clearly suggestive of human bones and an almost organic tissue. Gaudí’s use of color through mosaics is evident throughout.

Organic forms, such a the nose and human bones, were inspirations to Gaudi and can be seen in the building's facade.

Notice the human "masks "on the front of Casa Batlló

Park Güell, built between 1900-1910, was begun as a concept for a residential area, but the project failed, with only two of the proposed 70 houses built. Today it is a municipal park unlike any other in the world. Wrought iron, polychrome ceramic mosaics and a viaduct of stone and stalactites are part of the multi-level terrain that hosts gardens on different levels.

The vaulted ceiling of ceramics in the Hall of Columns supports the great square above, which provides great views of the city of Barcelona. Its circular benches, embellished with fragmented ceramics, appear as a modern art installation.

Park entrance

The ceilings in the Hall of Columns (meant to be a market place)

Ceiling medallion

Wrought iron and mosaics- popular themes in Gaudi's work

Palm tree inspirations for sure!

Wrought iron fence with palm fronds


Barcelona city view

La Pedrera (Casa Milá) has a stunning presence on Passeig de Gracia. Built between 1906-1910, it features undulating balconies with wrought iron appearing as sculptured elements and ornamentation. The building’s roof contains a surprising collection of vents and chimneys made out of white ceramic tiles that resemble conch shells. Definitely not the norm!

Surprisingly, Antoni Gaudí was run over by a tram at the height of his career on July 9, 1926, assumed to be a begger by his appearance and was left on the street for hours. He died the next day. His works were controversial then but, as the crowds indicate at every site, he is much loved and revered today.

 Please visit my fellow bloggers over at Marsha's fab Splenderosa blog for more definitions of It's All in the Details!


  1. Thank you Ann for these pictures, I have never visited Barcelona, and I don't think I realised just how much of Gaudi's remarkable work is visible there.
    Beautiful post

  2. OMG ! That's it!

    That's what I was hoping and waiting for!
    And now I'm speechless, so wonderful and brilliant! Well done, Ann!
    I must see Gaudi's work, and Barcelona is just 'down the road' from here (ha-ha). What a passionist for details - details - details, so unique and original. Truly god's architect.

    The most beautiful post for this theme, CHAPEAU!

  3. Ann, I'm so fascinated and exited by your pictures, that I made an update on my post with a link to your blog and inserted 3 photos.
    Hope you don't mind!

  4. Annie, this is astoundingly beautiful. Even though I have a degree in art history I did not know of this amazing man. And, your photographs which give such "detail" was a wonder to read. Thank you thank you thank you for participating in spite of your international travels. I really appreciate it. xx's

  5. Hi Dear Annie
    Wow.. fabulous.!! Did you visit Barcelona on this recent trip? I was there also but only half a day so didn't make it to the Parc Guell so thanks so much for sharing these with us.. I always wanted to see Gaudi and it was my main reason for visiting Barcelona... I must say I had mixed feeling about La Segrada Familia.. but agree 100% that it was the details that amazed me the most!! Thanks for the great post..

    And by the way.. thanks for the lovely comment.. but I have to admit the shots were taken on a dslr.. don't think the ipad is up to the challenge,.

    Have a great day.. you must be home now and missing Europe as I am.. ciao xxx Julie

  6. Forgot to say.. love the blue & white ceramics.. ciao xxx Julie

  7. I have a book about Gaudi's remarkable architectural creations. His intricate and organic designs are astonishing. Your superb expression of this months "By Invitation Only" quote, captures the essence of Gaudi...a "devil" for the details. Warm wishes.

  8. Astoundingly beautiful Annie, great photos. Gaudi definitely lived to the beat of his own drum and, obviously, in his own middle earth. What a guy!

    Thanks for these. I have never visited but it is on my list, although having seen your wonderful photos, do I now need to :-)

  9. Beautiful Barcelona...great photos Annie...such a brilliant man...breathtaking.
    Lovely post.

  10. Annie, These have to be some of the most incredible details on earth...talk about extreme vision. Fabulous post. I wish I was sitting with you right now hearing all the details of your wonderful trip. XO Mona

  11. Annie, what a brilliant interpretation....thank you.....xv



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