At the time of his death in 1926, Antoni Gaudi was arguably the most famous architect in the world. He had created some of the greatest and most controversial masterpieces of modern architecture, that were as exotic as they were outrageous. A precurser to the other great Catalan artists Picasso, Dali and Bunuel, Gaudi created dramatically original and daring art that was to surpass and reinvent all that had gone before. Gijs van Hensbergen's biography captures both the power and importance of Gaudi's work and the unique spirit of Catalan culture. In life and in death, Gaudi lived by extravagant gestures and a creativity that bordered on madness. Even his legendary death under a tram as he stepped back to admire his cathedral in Barcelona has the hint of absurdity and poetry. Today, Gaudi has become an icon of artistic integrity and genius, for religious piety and for unstinting love for his homeland, Catalonia.
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The sinuous forms and lavish decorations of Antonio Gaudí (1852-1926) broke the mold in architecture. "His imagination burnt holes through the musty pattern books," writes Gijs van Hensbergen. "His gift was an amazing capacity to imagine a building and then transform it into reality." Gaudí's fantastical creations give Barcelona an appearance unlike any other city in the world. One of the paradoxes that informs his many-layered biography is that this most original of architects was politically conservative and profoundly Catholic, fired by the desire to celebrate the history and culture of his native Catalonia. Hensbergen, author of books on art deco and travel in Spain, devotes a good deal of his book to situating Gaudí's life and thought within the context of Catalonian traditions, particularly the 19th-century Renaixença, which sought to revive the region's language (Catalan) and to affirm its national identity against the Spanish government's desire to absorb it. He surrounds Gaudí, too often depicted as an isolated eccentric, with the friends and patrons who shared his vision, illuminating the architect's impact both within Catalonia and beyond its borders. (Admirers included the surrealists, whose atheism and radicalism were anathema to Gaudí.) Detailed knowledge of Gaudí's leisurely, wickedly expensive working methods and the complex use he made of previous architectural traditions gives us a better understanding of the unique nature of his genius, while Hensbergen's obvious (though not uncritical) affection for his subject as a man helps us appreciate "an extraordinarily creative and religiously charged life." --Wendy SmithAbout the Author:
Gijs van Hensbergen lectures in architecture and is the author of Art Deco (Quintet, 1986) and of the highly acclaimed Spanish travel book A Taste of Castille (Sinclair-Stevenson, 1992). He lives in Dorset.
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Book Description HarperCollins, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 2556243