Antoni Gaudi made it possible for the architects of today to think beyond straight lines. See why...
Gaudí studied every detail of his creations, integrating into his architecture a series of crafts in which he was skilled: ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry. He introduced new techniques in the treatment of materials, such as trencadís, made of waste ceramic pieces.
After a few years under the influence of neo-Gothic art and Oriental techniques, Gaudí became part of the Catalan Modernista movement which was reaching its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work transcended mainstream Modernisme, culminating in an organic style inspired by nature.
Leading the Spanish Modernist movement, Antoni Gaudí has been classified with Gothicism (sometimes called warped Gothicism), Art Nouveau, and Surrealism. He was also influenced by Oriental styles, nature, sculpture, and a desire to go beyond anything that had ever been done before. Defying labels, Antoni Gaudí's work might be simple called, Gaudí-ism.
Stricken with a rheumatic problem that made walking painful, young Antoni Gaudí often missed school and had little interaction with other children, but had ample time to study nature. While seeking his degree in architecture in Barcelona, Gaudí also studied philosophy, history, and economics. He believed that differences in architecture were caused by society and politics, rather than aesthetics.
Gaudí was granted the title of Architect and presented his first major project, the Mataró Cooperative (a housing project for factory workers), at the Paris World Fair in 1878. Far ahead of his time, only a small portion of the project was actually built, but Gaudí's name became known and he met Eusebi Güell, who would become a very close friend as well as a patron. This meeting was extremely fortuitous: Güell trusted his friend's genius completely and never limited or tried to change the architect's vision during his many projects.
In 1883, Gaudí began work on his greatest project, the Sagrada Familia church, begun in 1882 by Francisco de Paula del Villar. For nearly 30 years, Gaudí worked on Sagrada Familia and other projects simultaneously, until 1911, when he decided to devote himself exclusively to the church. During the last year of his life, Gaudí lived in his studio at Sagrada Familia.
Tragically, in June, 1926, Gaudí was run over by a tram. Because he was poorly dressed, he was not recognized and taxi drivers refused to take a "vagabond" to the hospital (they were later fined by the police). Gaudí died five days later, and was buried in the crypt of the building to which he had devoted 44 years of his life, the as-yet unfinished Sagrada Familia.
During Gaudí's lifetime, official organizations rarely recognized his talent. The City of Barcelona often tried (unsuccessfully) to stop or limit Gaudí's work because it exceeded city regulations, and the only project the City ever assigned him was that of designing streetlights. He received the Building of the Year award for his least impressive building, Casa Calvet.