While we're visiting The Alhambra in Spain we might as well drop into Barcelona and take a look at the incredible, the amazing, the absolutely awe inspiring works of Antoni Gaudí (1852 – 1926). Gaudi was an architect from Reus, Catalonia, Spain and like so many of the artists and works we have looked at over the past few blogs, Gaudi was influenced by nature and mathematics. And yes, those pesky fractals!
Guadi is best known for his creation of the church of La Sagrada Familia Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For those of you who haven't seen it-yes it's real!
The Church is still under construction 92 years after Gaudi’s death and 136 years after the building was started in 1882! Gaudi’s designs are being followed as far as is practical, but as Gaudi constantly altered the details as the building progressed, had he lived to complete it I think it would have looked very different.
One example of Gaudi’s fanaticism was to hoist a real donkey up the facade to make sure it looked right in the sculpted nativity scene!
The Massacre of the Innocents was modelled on plaster casts made of temporarily anaesthetised turkeys and chickens!
But back to those fractals. Gauge was fascinated with mechanical structural system in organic life forms such as found in tree trunks and human skeletons. You can see this from the incredible site of the interior of the Basilica, looking heavenwards.
These tree like structures used by Gaudi are called dendiforms. They have been used by many cultures throughout history as the shapes of trees are complex and fractal-like and have a set of physical, mechanical and biological functions. Gaudi was a pioneer in his ability to combine architectural form with structural rationality as inspired by nature.
Up close you can see Gaudi's vision imitating nature. Inside it is like being in an imaginary forest.
One of the largest statues on the basilica is this tree, emphasising its significance in the world. Interestingly Gaudi has covered his tree monument in doves of peace.
This photo, taken by me, also shows the continuing construction equipment that has been so much part of the on-going mechanical architecture. The basilica is a living monument to Gaudi!
Throughout the basilica motifs of nature abound. There is fruit.
Leaves housing insects greet you at the entrance.
He considered every detail of his creations and integrated into his architecture such crafts as ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry.
Gaudi also designed and constructed other buildings which are amazing in their testament to his imagination. This is La Pedrera.
And the houses in Parc Guell, Bacelona, are a delight for any child, of any age! This is the Hansel & Gretel house. I believe this park originally started out to be an English style residential area. A concept that I find delightful.
And I will leave you with a view from the park highlighting Gaudi's mosaic work which combines an order with extreme imaginative elements. And that, my friends, is what it takes to be declared a genius!
Where to next? Well a natural segue would be to drift across to meet
the English textile designer William Morris, whose works influenced Gaudi. William Morris is another one of my personal heroes. But then while we are in Spain should we tackle Picasso? Or Dali? The latter apparently loved Gaudi but Picasso hated his works from all accounts. Tune in tomorrow to see where we end up.