Barcelona, capital of Catalonia, is a
very old city and even made its first appearance on a map in 133 B.C.. In the Gothic
quarter, it becomes obvious that the city has got a long history. There are still some
pieces left of a Roman wall, and there are lots of Gothic buildings . The city's
population kept growing trough the centuries, and soon the city was expanding outside the
From the beginning of the 18th century, Catalonia was under Spanish government. In the
middle of the 19th century, Barcelona became a rich and fast-growing city, and experienced
a cultural and economic revival. It was during this period that the city was expanded with
the area El Eixample. The Renaixença- movement was started and its purpose was to let
Catalan culture revive again. Catalonia wanted to escape from the Spanish regime, which
resulted in riots. The Spanish civil war started in 1934 under the fascist regime of
Franco, who destroyed Catalonian politics, economy, and culture. After 1945, Barcelona
revived again, the rich aristocracy cooperated with the fascists, but Catalan nationalism
was still alive among workers, students and intellectuals, resulting in strikes during the
fifties. Serious protest arose in 1971, and after the death of Franco in '75,
Catalonia became autonomous . No matter how hard the successors of Franco tried to keep a
fascist regime, democracy took over, under Juan Carlos I. During the eighties, Catalonia
became the strongest economic province in Spain, with 2 million inhabitants in its
capital. The city is flourishing again and got new impulses in all kinds of ways.
What linked all the works of the Catalan
Modernism, was a common background in the movement called La Renaixensa.
Since Catalonia finally lost all its independent rights to Spain at the end of the
eighteenth century, a slow growth of cultural and political nationalism had begun to
develop. By the 1880s, this Catalan revival had spread to all fields of linguistic,
literary and artistic expression. Rich merchants and the leading architects of Modernism
shared this nationalistic background. Architect Luís Domenech i Montaner, became the 1st
President of the Unio Catalana and took the chair at the Assembly in 1892 which
approved the statement of Catalan demands for independence. And Josep Puig i Cadafalch
became the president of the first regional government of Catalonia. Gaudi, Domenech and
Puig all belonged to the right wing High Church aristocrats, who formed the influential
Lliga de Catalunya in 1887. Modernism, to this newly formed aristocracy, meant freedom
from the Spanish domination,traditions and architecture. They struggled to revive the
Catalan language, history and traditional arts and crafts.Catalonia had always looked
North for its commercial and cultural nourishment. Spain had prohibited Catalonia from
sharing in the exploitation of the American colonies, and this now worked in favor of the
Catalans who developed local agriculture, textile industries and trading contacts. As
Spain declined, Barcelona prospered.
Barcelonan society wanted to see great changes and
make great advances, in every field. The great Catalan international exhibitions, like the
huge industrial exhibition of 1888 in Barcelona, demonstrated this national pride. But
even if Catalonia had its very special character, it was not isolated from other European
movements. Events in Britain, France, Belgium and Austria were closely followed in
Barcelona, through illustrated, artistic magazines. But although the influences flowed
freely, Barcelona imposed a change on all imported ideas. Modernism doesn't correspond to
the Art Nouveau which was popular in other countries at that time, although
the interiors of Gaudis Palau Güell, for example, are typically Art Nouveau. By
1893 decorative forms in ironwork, ceramics and stained glass could be seen in a number of
buildings in Barcelona.
Three buildings of the early 1880s seem to mark the beginnings of Modernism : The
publishing house of Montaner i Simon(1880), Josep Vilasecas factory for F. Vidal
(1884) and Gaudis Casa Vicens (1883- 5). All three flow from a revival of a Spanish
style : the neo-Mudejar, with the use of Moorish decorative forms and techniques as
characteristics. Modernism seems to have begun earlier and ended later than in most
countries in Europe.
|Very important in a Modernist point of view is
the neighborhood El Eixample, created during this period.
During the half of last century, due to an increase of population,
architect I. Cerda was commissioned to design new areas to house workers, but
especially to accommodate the aristocrats. His plans, were changed completely, all the
foreseen parks were deleted and the only thing that was kept, was the chessboard pattern
of the streets. However, El Eixample is still an area with great importance in
architectural way, where most of the Modernist masterpieces are situated.
The generation of architects who
studied at the new School of Architecture in the 1870s were taught from a Neo-Gothic
standpoint. This was because Barcelona was very religious, and because of the importance
of the great Catalan Gothic buildings which expressed the Catalan power, towards the end
of the Middle Ages. But nevertheless Modernism grew from the radical teaching of
Viollet-le-Duc and his followers. Many architects worked in both styles, mixing a Catalan
Gothic style with totally original Modernism detailing.
The Modernist architects expressed themselves in
different ways, some wanted to revive Romanesque architecture, others imported the French
neo-Gothicism of Violet le Duc, others still searching for a modern style in Germany,
Austria or France. What seems to be characteristic are the use of nature-forms : flowers,
plants and animals, decorative forms in ironwork, ceramics and stained glass. The aim was
to create a modern art based on Catalan traditions, mixed with the use of new materials,
like cast and wrought iron. It was only because of the invention of machines like special
saws, and the possibility to work with iron, that made these designs possible.
After the modernistic period
Modernism survived as a popular style well
into the1920s, and Gaudis influence was also kept alive by the work of his
young assistants and admirers. Later on, Modernism was followed by ' Noucentisme', a classicist
style, using large pieces of stone. During Worldwar II, many of the 'Art Nouveau'
buildings in Germany and France were destroyed, but Barcelona wasn't so devastated.
Modernist buildings however were forgotten, and deteriorated, until after the death of
Franco. Then they were renovated, and it became obvious that those magnificent buildings
were a real touristattraction. Most of the buildings are owned by investors, who are not
allowed to change anything at their property.
Biography and works of: Domènech BerenguerJujolPuigGaudi
Domènech i Montaner
Lluis Domènech qualified in 1873. He won almost
immediately, a successful competition in collaboration with Josep Vilaseca, for the
headquarters of the Instituciones Provinciales de Instruccion Publica, built in a free
interpretation of the neo-Gothic style. Domènech was one of the founders of modernism in
1878. He was against using styles from outside Catalonia and the only styles he called
acceptable were : Romanesque, Catalan- Gothic,and the neo-Mudejar. However, he realized it
was stupid to use these styles for buildings of a modern type requiring materials such as
steel or cast iron. Being an architect was one of the many things he did : he was
president of the literary organization : Jocs Floral, of the art organization Ateneo,
president of the Lliga de Catalunya and member of the parliament. Between 1888 and 1914 he
was very active, building several buildings in Reus and Barcelona. In 1914 he gave up
architecture and devoted himself to politics. He died in 1923.
Most important works of Domènech:
The publishing house of Muntaner i Simon
(1880)Address : Arago 255, Barcelona.
It is considered to be the first Modernist building but it has still some
néo-Mudéjar details. For the first time an iron skeleton was used in an ordinary
building. Bricks were used as material. The building housed the offices of the publishing
house of Muntaner i Simon. Now the museum Fundaçio Tapies is located here. The building
was renovated beautifully from 1986 - 1990.
Castell dels tres dragons parc
This café-restaurant and the international hotel located were built for the
worldexhibition in Barcelona of 1888. The building was never completely finished, and the
café restaurant houses now the zoological museum, the hotel was demolished. The austerity
of the main spaces contrasted with the original details of stained glass, ceramics and
Palau Montaner (1889 )Addres :
Carrer Mallorca at the corner of Carrer Roger de LLuria, Barcelona.
This was the house of one of the owners of the publishinghouse Montaner i Simon. The
building was started by another architect, but Domènech finished it.
Casa Thomas(1895 - 1898) Address :
Carrer Mallorca 291-293, Barcelona.
House and workshop for the engraverfamily Thomas. Later three extra floors were
built on top of the building by the son in law of Domènech.
The building has three small towers and a huge window with an elliptic arch.
Institut Pere Mata ( 1897 )
Domènech worked together with Reus' municipal architect Pere Casellas on the
building of this psychiatric institution. Functionality as well as the appearance of the
building got much attention. Every pavilion was built according to its function and target
group ( according sex, disorder or social status). Because a beautiful environment
was thought to have a good influence on people's psyche, much efforts were made to make
the building look good, every pavilion even got a small garden.
Casa de l'Arcadia
Carrer Santa Llucia, Barcelona.
This building was built in 1520 as a house for the Archdeacon. In 1902, the Lawyers
Association commissioned Domènech to redecorate the building. The Modernist
letterbox on the façade is his design. Since 1921 houses the building the Municipal
Casa Lamadrid, Address: Carrer
Girona 113, Barcelona.
Decorated with flowerdesigns on pillars and balconies, the building has a
Address : Passeig de Gracia 35, Barcelona.
This house was originally built in 1864, and renovated by Domènech from 1902-1906, for
the Morera family. This house won the first prize of the 'city's artistic building
contest', yearly held in the beginning of this century. In the 1980's it was renovated
once again, and it houses the headquarters of tourist information.
Hospital de Sant Creu i Sant Pau
(1902-12)Adress : Avinguda Gaudi, Barcelona.
The hospital needed to be expanded and Domènech was given a large budget to do this. He
surrounded himself with the best tradesmen and artists of that time, which resulted in a
building of extraordinary richness and harmony. The plan looks more like a city centre
than as a hospital, with all the different and separated parts. The building is eclectic,
but there are typical Modernist details used.
de la Musica Catalana (1905-08)
Address : Carrer Amadeus Vives 1, Barcelona.
This concerthall was built for a local leading
choir. In 1906 the constructionworks had to be stopped for some time until new financiers
were found to pay the building. This is one of the most brilliant buildings Domènech has
made. It is a really extraordinary building, on the inside as well as on the outside. The
façade is a masterpiece of ornaments, full of mosaicdecorations and sculptures. It seems
to lack order, but in fact it is build from strict rationalist ideas. The auditorium has
an inverted cupola in stained glass and mosaics. Natural light is used as much as
possible. In the1980's the concerthall has been renovated and expanded.
Casa Fuster : (1908 - 1910).
Address: Carrer Gran de Gracia 132, Barcelona.
This building is a mixture of Neo gothic and Art nouveau forms. The overall composition
follows rationalist Neo gothic principles, an example of this is the tower at the corner,
but the detailing is exaggerated in a Modernistic way.
Casa Joaquim de Sola Morales(1913
Casa Navas (1901 -1907), City :
Berenguer i Mestres (1866-1914)
Berenguer was, like Gaudí, brought up in Reus. He
followed Gaudí to Barcelona in1881 where he attended the Schools of Art and Architecture.
He married in 1887 and was forced to give up his studies to earn a living. From 1887 to
1892 he worked as assistant for Augusto Font in the morning and helped Gaudí in the
afternoon. From 1892 to his death he worked in Gracia under architect Migel Pascal.
Assisting Gaudí, he seems to have been responsible for most practical matters, he was
dealing with the workmen and handling the accounts. He was also the best architectural
draughtsman in the office, preparing most of Gaudis important presentation drawings.
He helped to keep Gaudí's taste for the fantastic and the curvilinear within bounds, with
is logical and disciplined point of view.
Most important works of Berenguer:
Mercat de la llibertad ,1893, in Valencia.
Torre Matau ,1906, in Llinas del Valles.
Colonia Güell in Sta Coloma de Cervello.
Building for 'centra moral de Gracia',1909, a
In collaboration with Gaudi:
Berenguer assisted Gaudi at most of
his buildings, e.g. :
Finca Güell, 1900-1902, Bellesguard.
Crypt of Colonia Güell , in Sta Coloma de
Casa Gaudi in Parc Güell
Jujol i Gibert (1879-1949)
Jujol was a genius of invention, a man whose
spontaneous sense of sculptural forms was at least as developed as Gaudis. His own
works were very inventive but sometimes undisciplined. In all of his works he uses a
curvilinear approach. Jujols major contributions to Gaudis work were in the
fields of ceramic decoration and wrought iron work. Unfortunately much of his work was
thought to be Gaudi's. The serpentine bench and the fountain at Parc Guell are mostly his
Most important works of Jujol:
Torre de la Creu in Sant Joan Despi.
Casa Negre in Sant Joan Despi.
Casa Planells in Sant Joan Despi.
Iglesia de la Sagrat Cor, church
in Vistabella (1918- 1923).
Shrine of the Montserrat chapel, Montferri,
Casa Sole, Els Pallaresos (1927).
Dragon fountain in Parc Güell.
Jujol designed a big part of the decorative
mosaicwork Gaudi used : Especially at Parc Guell, most of the mosaicworks are Jujol's
Josep Puig i
Josep Puig i Cadafalch was a busy man, being
active in politics, architecture, arthistory and writing books on new European
architecture. He became president of the first united regional government of Catalonia.
Puig was a student of Domenech and shared the same interest in working with bricks and
colored ceramics. The Middle Ages were his inspiration.
Most important works of Puig:
: (1898- 1900),
Address : Passeig de Gracia 41, Barcelona.
This was an existing building, but renovated by Puig for chocolatemanufacturer Antoni
Amattler. It has a stepped gable, and a facade with floral Neogothic details. Symbols used
are a dragon and Saint George.
Casa Puig i Cadafalch,
(1897 - 1900) Argentona.
Casa Coll, Régas
Mataró (1897 - 1898).
Casa el Cross,(1899
-1900) El Cros d'Argentona.
Casa Marti =
Café els 4 gats,(1895-1896 )Address : Carrer Montsio 3,
The Medieval influences are very obvious in this building which is inspired on a Catalan
gothic style, with lots of decorative elements.
This bar became a famous place, because it was the meeting place of Modernist artists.
Picasso held his first exhibition here, and he visited the bar frequently.
Casa Avelli Trixet,(1903
-1904) Carrer Corsega, Barcelona.
(1903-1905), Address : Diagonal 416 - 420, Barcelona. This house is called 'Casa de les
punxes' : 'house with the towers'. It looks a bit like a castle, has six towers and
gables. It is a hexagonal block built with bricks and decorated with wrought iron and
azulejos( coloured tiles.)
Rambla de Catalunya 126, Barcelona. In this building many sculptures, murals and
medaillons were used.
Casa Macaya (1898
-1901), Address : Passeig de Sant Joan 108. This building houses the 'centre de cultura de
la caixa de pensiones', a cultural centre, where concerts an exhibitions are organized. It
looks like a Gothic palace, with richly decorated stairs. The patiowalls are in white
stucco, beautifuly contrasting with the decorations and ornaments around the windows.
Palau del baro de Quadras,
Avenida Diagonal 373, Barcelona. This building in neo-Gothic style has a sumptuous
Casimir Casarramora textile
factory in Barcelona.(1909-1911)
Palau Alfonso XIII,
was built for the worldexhibition in Barcelona in 1929.