Modernisme in Catalunya

Contemplating Catalonian “Modernisme” and how it relates to what I think of as “modern art”, I think a sketch of Gaudi’s signature dragon is appropriate.

I think of Picasso when I think of modern art.  He has a strong connection with Barcelona, and I went to the Picasso museum here just a few days ago.  But does Picasso show up in the Museu del Modernisme de Catalunya?  Not even a mention.  Instead there are paintings and statues that look to me more Romantic or Art Nouveau as well as lots of furniture and decorative arts laden with flowers, marquetry portraiture, and stained glass.

Gaudi – a native son of Catalunya- was well represented.  Is he modern?  Well, he may have adhered to tradition in some ways – his catering to the bourgeoisie and his religious devotion, for example.  But I also find that his work resonates with the following statement which some take as an indicator of the postmodern in art.

“It would be better to think of art as a process that is started by the artist.  If successful, the work starts to live a life of its own, a work of art starts to work.” — Ibram Lassaw, 1952

What Gaudi Saw…

Learning about Antoni Gaudi and immersing myself in his constructions, I have become fascinated by how his observations of natural forms in-formed his architecture.  The branching forms of columns, the shell-like undulations of facades… So today as I walked the grounds of Park Guell including the environs (and interior) of the house where Gaudi lived while designing some of his most remarkable buildings, I kept seeing natural things that resonated with Gaudi’s built forms. The pine trees that branch just so.  Vines that spiral around themselves.  Ripe beans that hang heavily from above.  The rough bark of the trees, the blue sky and bluer flowers… It is all there, and he was surrounded by it every day.

Some people may find some of Gaudi’s work a bit gaudy, but I am absolutely enchanted…