May 13, 2012

Antoni y GABROEN in Park Guell

After exploring Picasso and Barcelona's old town (see the post Pablo y GABROEN in El Born), I had some more time to spare from the conference. So it was time to check out the other influential genius who's name and legacy is almost synonymous with this city: the architect Antoni Gaudi. His whimsical, fairy tale style is probably best seen in Park Guell, on one of the hills surrounding the city, and definitely a stiff walk up.
The use of colorful mosaics, and the grand views on the city make this park one of the most popular spots in the city, and in the late afternoon sun it is a very pleasant place to enjoy the mild mediterranean climate and indulge in people-watching.

Less colorful than the mosaics or the people, but more striking as an architectural style are the organic forms that support the main square in the park. This organic style is what defines Gaudi, and what better place to see this than at La Sagrada Familia, his masterpiece which remains unfinished after more than a century of construction. Gaudi got involved a year after construction began in 1882, and he transformed the original high-gothic design of long vertical parallel pillars supporting an open structure to a so-called hyperbolic style of curved shapes that can carry more weight and thus allows for an even more airy design. The exterior is like a manmade corral reef of overwhelming sculpturing on one facade. In stark contrast, the other facade is decorated in art deco style with strong straight lines, almost in the cubist style of Picasso.

The interior reminded me most of a huge skeleton, particularly because Gaudi poured his signature organic sauce over the whole structure. And what is more fitting for a huge curved building than the good-old fisheye lens that I got for my birthday. Just look at the examples below of what great field of view you can capture..........

Construction is still ongoing, but oh so slowly because it depends on private donations. The 1992 olympics have certainly peaked interest in completing the building, which is still missing the central spire that is supposed to soar to 170 meters (560 ft), or twice as high as the current 8 smaller spires that were finished. When Gaudi died at age 73 (hit by a streetcar when crossing the street, and left for a homeless beggar because of his shabby clothes), the project was not even 25% completed, but he did live to see the crown top the first spires. The project is now racing towards completion by 2026, 100 years after his death. They are behind schedule, but what is a couple of years on one and a half century.

La Sagrada Familia - the Holy Family - was officially consecrated by the pope two years ago, and is a celebration of motherhood. Happy Mother's Day!

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