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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Proto-Saint Antoni Gaudí

I've just been reading an article at the Tablet about Barcelona architect Antoni Gaudí, who may become the first professional artist to be made a saint.

There are no professional architects – let alone musicians, artists, or novelists – in the ranks of the saints. No Mozart or Michelangelo. No Titian. There is only the Blessed Fra Angelico – but he was a friar who painted rather than a painter. Hence the excitement over the fast-track cause for the beatification – the first stage of the journey to being declared a saint – of one of the great modernist architects of the twentieth century, a scruffy mystic whose most famous work is the awesome, unfinished church of the Holy Family in Barcelona.

- read about La Sagrada Família

Wikipedia writes of the artist ...

Gaudí was an ardent Catholic and a fervent Catalan nationalist. (He was once arrested for speaking in Catalan in a situation deemed illegal by authorities.) In his later years, he abandoned secular work and devoted his life to Catholicism and his Sagrada Família. Soon after, his closest family and friends began to die. His works slowed to a halt, and his attitude changed. Perhaps one of his closest family members – his niece Rosa Egea – died in 1912, only to be followed by a "faithful collaborator, Francesc Berenguer Mestres" two years later. After both tragedies, Barcelona fell on hard times, economically. The construction of La Sagrada Família slowed; the construction of La Colonia Güell ceased altogether. Four years later, Eusebi Güell, his patron, died ....

On June 7, 1926, Antoni Gaudí was run over by a tram. Because of his ragged attire and empty pockets, multiple cab drivers refused to pick him up for fear that he would be unable to pay the fare. He was eventually taken to a pauper's hospital in Barcelona. Nobody recognized the injured artist until his friends found him the next day. When they tried to move him into a nicer hospital, Gaudí refused, reportedly saying "I belong here among the poor." He died two days later, half of Barcelona mourning his death. It was, perhaps, fitting that he was buried in the midst of his unfinished masterpiece, La Sagrada Família.

Antoni Gaudí worked on his great project for over 40 years, devoting the last 15 years of his life entirely to it ... work was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War in 1935 and then began again in the 1950s, after the end of World War II. Today, though still under construction, it is one of the most visited sites in Barcelona. When people would comment on the fact that La Sagrada Família would not be finished in his lifetime, Gaudí would say, "My client is not in a hurry."

- detail from the Passion facade of La Sagrada Família


Blogger Susan said...

Crystal, once again you've introduced me to the unfamiliar. And once again visual beauty is part of it--in this case stunning beauty.

6:44 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Thanks, Susan ... you've introduced to many wonderful things yourself :-)

7:00 PM  
Blogger Liam said...

Hmmm... I thought I comment, but there must have been some technical problem. I said that I had been lucky enough to take tours of several modernist buildings in Barcelona (Gaudi was one of several innovative Catalan architects of his generation) and what impressed me about Gaudi was how much his almost whimsical forms followed architectural function -- he didn't, in other words, just design decorated boxes.

Thanks for the post, Crystal.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Darius said...

"My client is not in a hurry..." great line!

That aerial shot is especially striking.

It's interesting to think about the relationship of art to spirituality.

8:11 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Liam, I wondered if you had been to Barcelona. I've seen pictures of his other buildings - they look almost organic.

Darius, yes, I think there could be a strong connection between anything creative, like art, music, writng (heh), and the spiritual.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Sherri said...

I just added you to my bloglines account. Love the pictures you post. I too am a converted Catholic and look forward to reading more.

1:49 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Sherri, thanks for dropping by :-)

4:08 PM  

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