At the age of 16, Gaudi left his hometown Reus to join the school of architecture of Barcelona. At that time Barcelona was a fast-growing city because of the start of its industry. It was the main city of Catalunya where at the time Gaudi arrived there was a large anarchist independence movement.
Like the followers of this movement Gaudi loved Catalunya above everything else. For that reason the major influences on his work were mauresque, oriental and gothic architecture, all of them traditional Catalonian styles. Although he did not travel around Europe he was aquantanced with French avantgarde movements because of the tight relationships between Barcelona and France. New foreign movements like the preraphaelites, arts and crafts, gothic revival, impressionism and Art Nouveau were also discussed in the intellectual modernist society. Gaudi met his friends regularly at the "cercle St. Luke" and "Ateneu Club". He was particularly befriended with count Guëll, who travelled a lot in Europe. Guell made Gaudi read Viollet-le-Duc's book "Entretients sur l'architecture" which influenced him quite a lot. Art Nouveau is the movement that influenced Gaudi the most, stimulating him to experiment with new materials and new shapes, thereby helping him to give up imitating historical styles and find his own way.
At the end of his life, Gaudi reached through his work a high state of personality and he became more and more isolated, building the work of his life: the "Sagrada Familia". When he was ran over by a trolleybus, nobody recognized this tramp, so no one took care. He died few weeks after the accident in the hospital where he was driven too late.
One could caracterize his work by an oriental, mauresc and gothic influence, an effort in plan design, a renewal in structure design, an overwhelming inspiration of organic nature (animals and plants).
For instance, see the tree-columns of House Calvet or Crypte Guëll: Gaudi was inspired by the natural tight relationship between shape and structure, decoration and function. See also the highly resistant shell structures. The use of parabolic arches is a result of an efficiency structure research with models. The enhancement of gothic columns to inward leaned, self carrying columns and vaults avoiding the traditional flying buttresses. The materials used by Gaudi ranged from stone, ceramics and tiles to wrought iron, glass and bricks. He invented solutions that proves his genius like for the snaked bench in Guëll Park. He used broken tiles for technical and financial reasons: square tiles could not match such a wavy shape and square tiles would have cost to much. It was cheaper to use broken tiles from the ceramics fabrics. The result is an absolute marvel.
His work has been forgotten till the fifties. Most of Gaudi's works are still uncompleted because of their costs. The Sagrada Familia is still under construction. Gaudi left a work that could not let unconcerned.
Main buildings by Gaudi
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