Monthly Archives: August 2011

Antoni Gaudí

Antoni Gaudí

gaudi Antoni

Architect
(1852 – 1926)

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet  (Riudoms or Reus, 25 June 1852 – Barcelona, 10 June 1926) was a Spanish Catalan architect and the best known representative of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí’s works are marked by a highly individual style and the vast majority of them are situated in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, including his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família.

Much of Gaudí’s work was marked by the four passions of his life: architecture, nature, religion and his love for Catalonia. Gaudí meticulously studied every detail of his creations, integrating into his architecture a series of crafts, in which he himself was skilled, such as ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry. He also introduced new techniques in the treatment of the materials, such as his famous trencadís, made of waste ceramic pieces.

After a few years under the influence of neo-Gothic art, and certain oriental tendencies, Antoni Gaudí became part of the Catalan Modernista movement which was then at its peak, towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. Gaudí’s work, however, transcended mainstream Modernisme, culminating in an organic style that was inspired by nature without losing the influence of the experiences gained earlier in his career. Rarely did Gaudí draw detailed plans of his works and instead preferred to create them as three-dimensional scale models, moulding all details as he was conceiving them in his mind.

casa-batlloGaudí’s work has widespread international appeal, and there are innumerable studies devoted to his way of understanding architecture. Today he is admired by both professionals and the general public: his masterpiece, the Sagrada Família, is one of the most visited monuments in Spain. Between 1984 and 2005 seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. He awakened to his Roman Catholic faith during his life and many religious images can be seen in his works, a fact which has led to his being nicknamed “God’s Architect” and calls for him to bebeatified.

Gaudí’s first projects were the lampposts he designed for the Plaça Reial in Barcelona, the unfinished Girossi newsstands and the Cooperativa Obrera Mataronense (Workers’ Cooperative of Mataró). He became well known through his first important commission, the Casa Vicens, and subsequently received increasingly more significant requests. At the Paris World Fair in 1878 Gaudí displayed a showcase he had produced for the glove manufacturer Comella. Its modernista design, which was at the same time functional and aesthetic, impressed the Catalan industrialist Eusebi Güell, who later on contacted the architect to request him to carry out various projects he had in mind. This was the starting point of a long friendship and a patronage which bore fruit with some of the most distinguished of Gaudí’s works: the Güell wine cellars, the Güell pavilions, the Palau Güell (Güell palace), the Parc Güell (Güell park) and the crypt of the church of the Colònia Güell. He also became a friend of the marquis of Comillas, the father-in-law of count Güell, for whom he designed “El Capricho” in Comillas.

la Sagrada FamíliaIn 1883 Gaudí accepted responsibility for the recently-initiated works of the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family, more commonly referred to in English as the Sagrada Família). Antoni Gaudí changed the original project completely, making this his world famous and much-admired masterpiece. From 1915 until his death he devoted himself entirely to this project. Given the number of commissions he began receiving, he had to rely on a professional team to be able to work on various projects simultaneously. His team consisted of professionals from all fields of construction. Several of the architects who worked under him made their own name in the field later on, such as Josep Maria Jujol, Joan Rubió, Cèsar Martinell, Francesc Folguera and Josep Francesc Ràfols. In 1885, Gaudí moved to rural Sant Feliu de Codines to escape thecholera epidemic that was ravaging Barcelona. He lived in Francesc Ullar’s house, for whom he designed a dinner table as a sign of his gratitude

During the Paris exposition in May 1910, Antoni Gaudí spent a holiday in Vic, where he designed two lampposts made of basalt and wrought iron for the Plaça Major of Vic, for Jaume Balmes’s centenary. The following year he was obliged to spend some time in Puigcerdà due to tuberculosis; during this time he conceived the idea for the façade of the Passion of the Sagrada Família. Due to his state of health, on 9 June he made his will at the office of the notary Ramon Cantó i Figueres; but luckily he recovered completely. Read the rest of this entry

Bolshoi Theatre

Bolshoi Theatre

Bolshoi TheatreThe Bolshoi Theatre (Russian: Большой театр, Bol’shoy TeatrLargeGreat or Grand Theatre, also spelled Bolshoy) is a historic theatre in Moscow, Russia, designed by the architect Joseph Bové, which holds performances of ballet and opera. The Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera are amongst the oldest and greatest ballet and opera companies of the world, respectively. The theatre is the parent company of The Bolshoi Ballet Academy, a world-leading school of ballet.

Hisotry:

The company was founded in 1776 by Prince Peter Urusov and Michael Maddox. Initially, it held performances in a private home, but in 1780, it acquired the Petrovka Theatre and began producing plays and operas. The current building was built on Theatre Square in 1824 to replace the Petrovka Theatre, which had been destroyed by fire in 1805. It was designed by architect Andrei Mikhailov, who had built the nearby Maly Theatre in 1824.

At that time, all Russian theatres were imperial property. Moscow and St Petersburg each had only two theatres, one intended for opera and ballet (these were known as the Bolshoi Theatres), and one for plays (tragedies and comedies). As opera and ballet were considered nobler than drama, the opera houses were named “Grand Theatres” (“Bolshoi” being the Russian for “large” or “grand”) and the drama theatres were called “Smaller Theatre” (“Maly” being the Russian for “small”, “lesser”, or “little”). Read the rest of this entry

Zdzislaw Beksinski

Zdzislaw Beksinski

Zdizslaw BeksinskiZdzisław Beksiński (24 February 1929 – 21 February 2005) was a renowned Polish painter, photographer, and sculptor who is best known as a fantasy artist. Beksinski executed his paintings and drawings either in what he called a ‘Baroque’ or a ‘Gothic’ manner. The first style is dominated by representation, with the best-known examples coming from his ‘fantastic realism’ period when he painted disturbing images of a surrealistic, nightmarish environment. The second style is more abstract, being dominated by form, and is typified by Beksinski’s later paintings. Beksiński was murdered in 2005.

Beksinski was born in the town of Sanok, in southern Poland. After studying architecture in Kraków, he returned to Sanok in 1955. Subsequent to this education, he spent several years as aconstruction site supervisor, which he hated. At that time, he became interested in artistic photography and photomontage, sculpture and painting. He made his sculptures of plaster, metal and wire. His photography had several themes that would also appear in his future paintings, presenting wrinkled faces, landscapes and objects with a very bumpy texture, which he attempted to emphasize (especially by manipulating lights and shadows). His photography also depicted disturbing images, such as a mutilated baby doll with its face torn off, portraits of people without faces or with their faces wrapped in Read the rest of this entry