Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Work of Antoni Gaudi

When I look at modern architecture, I just think, "what the hell is anyone thinking" and "who greenlights this garbage". There is nothing beautiful about the work. Some of the worst examples of modern ugliness are the add-ons of new wings to old buildings. One moment while I find a horrible example of this.

That is the Royal Ontario Museum. It looks like a Transformer in the middle of a change or maybe a robot eating the old building. Eyesores. I can't stand that kind of sickness. Guys like Frank Gehry can get shackled and thrown in jail for their crimes against our eyes. We are told his work is cool and amazing, so the herd goes along with it. It is weird, lacks symmetry, lacks anything tied to nature, and looks alien. "But it looks whimsical and fantastic." No, it's curved metal and poorly placed windows that do nothing with natural light.

There is an architect that I enjoy whether a house, a church or a park. He is long dead. If you go to Barcelona, you'll see his work all around you. It is Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi was part of the Modernisme movement centered in Catalonia, which ran parallel with the great Art Nouveau movement. His work is unique and different yet enchanting. One wonders how much of the special flavor that was that movement and Gaudi's work in particular comes from being in Barcelona and that special Catalan culture. It's not Spanish. It's peculiar. Shhh, it is also why their secession movement has legs.

You have to see the facades, the buildings, the churches and parks for yourself. Gaudi sprinkled his works throughout Barcelona, so you can see not just a variety of his work but his changing style. I love Park Guell. Just sit there and take it in. The view of the city, the gingerbread house looking buildings, the broken tile murals, the pillars under the terrace, and the stone work that looks like a natural formation. One night I was there, a couple was getting married under the terrace. They took pictures in different spots after the ceremony. I do not blame them as it was an interesting spot to commemorate the event. That is just one Gaudi spot in that magnificent city.

An ornate and interesting looking lamp post is his or just is influenced by him. The apartment buildings he created were genuine works of art. He could work stone, glass and iron into an organic looking structure. The face of Casa Batllo looks like it could be on Dagobah. Casa Mila looks like a scoop of ice cream on a summer day when the sun is blazing and there are no clouds. These creations look molded more than constructed. Gaudi had neo-gothic creations as well, and this shows his range. You can see his different periods and see his growth and where it took him.

Casa Batllo
Casa Mila
The tourist trap is the Sagrada Familia. It is supposedly on track for completion in almost a decade (I doubt it). It is kind of absurd looking, but Gaudi mixes the almost cartoonish with the natural and organic looking to create a super sandcastle for God. The highest towers have not been started. Still under construction, Gaudi's plans are a mash of different styles to praise the glory of God. I would recommend sitting in the park behind the construction zone and taking it in. You can spend hours examining the details. When it is complete, it should look absolutely amazing and irreplicable. I just hope the Spanish still attend church en masse to fill it as Gaudi intended.

La Sagrada Familia
Gaudi's work, and how he fit in with the movements of the time, really exhibit the last great flowering of Western art. World War One did murder the continent, and not just physically. The view that life was meaningless and absurd found ample ammunition in the mud of northern France. This carried forward with the Dada crowd, and the ridiculousness of modern art. Maybe that is why I enjoy the Art Nouveau crowd, the Art Deco crowd and specifically Gaudi's work. They are just close enough to our time to feel connected, but not part of the modern crowd that is increasingly disconnected with life and creating beautiful objects to last for generations.


allamerican1952 said...

The style of art for the "add-on" to the Royal Ontario Museum is not a problem to me, except for the fact that they added it to the old building and did not just give it its' own unique space. That is the main problem for me.

As for art, well, you know the saying "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." You like Gaudi ... me, not so much. But that is ok. Different strokes.

Suburban_elk said...

That Antoni Gaudi stuff is really neat, particularly the mosaics. The view from that terrace is all colorful and bright, as if it were fun to be alive and in the sun under the blue sky, here at this point in time maybe history is not so bad …

The face of Casa Battlo has the same candyland look, as if the people inside might be part of some fairy tale where the wicked witch has been banished … to the La Sagrada Familia. Maybe it is the clouds overhead and the construction cranes, but that place looks grim.

Architecture is similar to ballet and opera in that it is "high art" that is collaborate and puts together many forms. Architecture is not really "art", but that is probably a meaningless distinction. Art is the breadcrumb trail that someone leaves behind.


Speaking of Gehry and all that. It is all sad. He has a building in Minneapolis on the University campus and it is on the River. It was of course a big deal when it was being constructed - like a real "coup" for lame-o clueless Minnesotans so now we had a Gehry and could be a cool city like Chicago. And but of course it turns that the building is a joke. The word they always use is monstrosity, and that works, but you know, it is the whole picture of how it is out of place. The Gehry here is supposedly a museum, but no one goes there. Also it is on the banks of the biggest river in North America, which river is the reason we are here, and it does not have a patio. So that is genius? Any regular Joe with property and a five-hundred-billion dollar budget or whatever, is likely going to include a patio in his design.

nikcrit said...

Some of the worst examples of modern ugliness are the add-ons of new wings to old buildings.

That, I believe, is the singular genius and brilliance of the abomination that goes by "Los Angeles."

Some of the neighborhoods and their building designs induce nausea and damn-near makes on vomit.

PA said...

Building additions on college campuses contrast badly against classical or colonial architecture. You'll either get a self-conscious glass-and-light monstrocity, or a cheap-looking box with overly-literal stylistic nod to the original campus character.

GFC said...

The add-on to the Royal Ontario Museum is an assault on memory and identity and ultimately a declaration of war on the human race. An abomination that can spring only from the mind of a terrible pervert.