When the Corbusian International Modern style, with its contempt for ornament, imposed itself on architecture, figures like Gaudí (1852-1926) were relegated to the sidelines. In this volume, Lahuerta situates Gaudí in his context and vindicates his fin-de-siècle bohemian modernity.
Embodied in such powerful images as the spires of the Sagrada Familia and the flames rising from burning churches during the Tragic Week of 1909, the story takes us back to the Barcelona of the early twentieth century, when class struggle threatened to topple the prevailing capitalist model.
Drawing on rare original documents collected over several decades, the author shows that Gaudí was not an isolated eccentric but an architect who was keenly aware of the key theories and major works of his time and the creator of revolutionary technical innovations. His analyses of Gaudí’s writings reveal a pioneer in the use of industrial processes to produce ornamental details that seem handmade today.
Equally novel was the way that Gaudí exploited his status as a public figure, a ‘media personality’ whose fame is reflected in the many caricatures of the architect and his buildings in the popular press.
His influence on avant-garde artists like Dalí, who admired the edible appearance of the Milà house, and Picasso, who was fascinated by the eroticism of the Batlló house, attest to the importance of Gaudí’s contribution to culture.
This entertaining volume is part of Columns of Smoke, a series of publications in which Professor Lahuerta turns his perceptive eye on the official narrative of modernity and its protagonists and the relationship between architecture, decoration and the print media.