Happy Birthday Antonio Gaudi
Antonio Gaudi was born in 1852 in Baix Camp, in the province of Tarragona. Antonia Cornet and Francisco Gaudi had five children, the last of which was Antonio. His family was mainly one of artisans. Antonio was the first Gaudi in over four generations to leave the family tradition of metalworking.
As a child and throughout his life, Gaudi suffered from arthritis. Because of this, Gaudi had difficulty keeping his attendance up at school. Instead, he spent much of his time walking and observing animals, plants and forms in nature. Later, Gaudi attended the Escola Pia in Reus. Here, he achieved very good grades in geometry, poetry and Greek. Also, his religious nature probably came from his schooling with the Escolapius Fathers. At this school, he came to recognize the “value of the divine history of the salvation of man through Christ incarnate, given to the world be the Virgin Mary.” Then, later in his life as he worked on the Sagrada Familia, he incorporated many of these beliefs into the architecture.
Gaudi moved to Barcelona in 1873 and began his architectural education at the Provincial School of Architecture. Although he did not have superior grades, he earned “excellent” marks in the courses of Trial drawings and Projects. His drawings in these two courses was seen as the work of an insane man or a genius. Forever after, the descriptions of “insane” and “genius” were used to describe Gaudi. In February of 1878, Antonio Gaudi finished his architectural schooling and finally attained the title of Architect.
As an architect, Antonio Gaudi was influenced by many things. He found inspiration for his work within medieval books, in gothic-style art, and from organic shapes in nature. For Gaudi these subjects contributed to the development of his own architectural style. Also, Gaudi visited and studied monuments such as Roussillon Mallorca, Montserrat, Toulouse, and the peals of the Pyrenees. His personal love and interest in music also contributed to his style. In addition, Gaudi gained further influence from the writings of an Englishman by the name of John Ruskin. Ruskin conveyed to Gaudi his belief that “ornament [is] the origin of architecture.” Furthermore, writings about architecture contributed to Gaudi’s style. Specifically, a book on medieval French architecture by Viollet-le-Duc was of great influence to Gaudi. Lastly, in order to fund his architectural education, Gaudi assisted various builders in Barcelona; his projects with these builders only amplified his education in architecture.
Antonio Gaudi’s first major project as a professional architect was worker’s housing in the Coopertiva Mataronese factory. This project was presented at the Paris World Fair in 1878 and was seen as the beginning of his fame. Thereafter, he worked with the architect Martorell on projects such as the Gilbert pharmacy in Barcelona and the Sagrada Familia. However, Gaudi took control over the building of the Sagrada Familia in 1883. He ended up spending 43 years of his life working on this project. In addition to the Sagrada Familia, a few of Gaudi’s other large projects were the Palau Guell and the Palacio de Astorga. He also began the Park Guell, which was initially built as a garden-city. Additionally, Gaudi worked on many other projects throughout Barcelona. Two of his more famous projects, Casa Batllo and La Pedrera are located on the Passeig de Gracia. Both of these projects had be introduced to Gaudi by Pere Mila, a member of the Spanish Parliament.
Before his death on June 7, 1926, Gaudi attained additional fame in 1910, when he was requested to build a New York Hotel. Gaudi received further recognition because photographs and plans of his lifetime achievements were occasionally displayed in architectural shows and exhibitions. However, most important to Antonio Gaudi was his 43 years of work on the Sagrada Familia. He continued to work on its construction until the day of his death.