One of the joys of working on a new book is exploring my archives and rediscovering images that have not been viewed for years - including the new possibilities they offer for layout and montage.
June 25, 2007, marks the 155th anniversary of Antoni Gaudi‘s birth. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the completion of two of his most important projects Casa Mila (La Padrera) and Casa Batlló.
Severely disabled by rheumatism as a child he developed a genius for observation and analysis of nature. In later life he was also deeply religious and was reputed to have said…
“Man does not create… he discovers”.
“Originality consists in returning to the origin”.
In his old age, Gaudí lived a modest life, satisfied with little and dressed without much care; so much so that the day of his accident nobody recognized him as he lay on the ground. On June 7, 1926, he was run over by a tram at the intersection of Carrer de Bailén and the Gran Vía, and the taxi drivers refused to take a poor vagabond to the hospital (the municipal police fined them later for not assisting an injured man). He did not seek out contact with journalists and he avoided cameras, so there were few photographs of the architect.
My photographs are of the vault of the Sagrada Familia Crypt where his body was laid to rest. The crypt being the one portion of the temple not designed by Gaudi. It is the work of Francesc de Villar, the architect who was originally commissioned for the project, before Gaudi took over. In contrast to the rest of the temple the crypt is built in neo-gothic style which was not compatible with Gaudi’s progressive ideas. He referred to flying buttresses as “crutches for buildings”.
The Casa Batlló roof is pure playful Gaudi fantasy which I compounded by introducing the flying bat – a design element borrowed from the street lamps on the Passeig de Gracia situated immediately beneath this roof. The invention of the broken ceramic tile idiom, “trencadís”, is attributed to Gaudi. It was a way of wrapping tiles around those complex structural curves.
The images below are from my unpublished book on Barcelona, shot on several trips to the city in the late 80s and early 90s.
Casa Batlló Chimneys
Casa Batlló Roof
Sagrada Familia Crypt
The individual elements of the spread are repeated below for clarity.