It is difficult to stay away from Gaudi in Barcelona, especially if the closest metro stop to your apartment lets you off right at Casa Batlio. If you are not familiar with Antoni Gaudi, he was an amazing man. Born in 1852, he was an architect who came to epitomize the Modernista architecture movement. I could easily get caught up in talking about Gaudi himself but there are far greater scholars than I who have studied the man and his work, so I urge you to look him up and find out about him. (A good place to start is the website for the Casa Museu Gaudi.) Besides, this blog is more about what he left behind and how it inspires me. And hopefully he can inspire you through my blogpost!
Gaudi Part 1 showed one of the myriad of quotes that is on display at La Sagrada Familia. Today’s post will move outside that building (viewed from the ground) to show the dichotomy of Gaudi’s designs. I actually find it almost confusing when looking at the outside of this cathedral because on one side of the church the facade is absolutely covered in what first appears to be frippery. There is so much stuff that it is hard to see what the stuff actually is. My eye remains confused, even as it is delighted at the curlicues and the stories that it tells. (Disclaimer…While Gaudi was, by all accounts, a very religious person, I am definitely not and despite growing up Episcopalian, I have very little knowledge of the Bible…so don’t ask me what all those stories are.)
When I look at these pictures I am almost reminded of a confectioner’s store and think maybe this church is really made of sugar and just hasn’t had the food coloring added yet. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the awful ribbon candy that was in my Advent candy box every Christmas looked like a red and green version of what is in this last picture. It’s impossible to believe that Gaudi did not have a sense of humor, or at the very least a sense of whimsy.
What Gaudi did have was a huge repertoire of styles and designs. This is apparent when looking at the other side of the church. After walking through the admission gates, I was struck by the simplicity of the surface treatment. Instead of curlicues, there are block carvings of saints, words and patterns. Instead of ribbon candy, we get ice sculptures. Instead of stories we get pure emotion.
So from the very first I was confused by this amazing building. The confusion came from seeing such extremes on different sides of the same church. Perhaps if I studied more about the stories and ideas that Gaudi was trying to achieve the exterior would make more sense to me. I don’t know. Suffice it to say that the exterior of La Sagrada Familia, while impressive and memorable, was not my favorite part of the building. Stay tuned for what was…