The word Moderisme is the Catalan word for Modernism. In the early 1900’s the city of Barcelona had a sort of artistic revolution. Although painting, sculpture and writing was part of this movement, the real objective was architecture. The region of Catalonia Spain was trying to create its own identity within the country and within the entire continent of Europe. Art movements were taking place right and left throughout Europe during this time and Catalonia was eager to express itself. Catalonia’s capital Barcelona was in the midst of major urban development and decided to put its artistic spirit into the streets in the form of architecture. The city wanted to beautify itself while having a distinct Catalan personality. If you visit today the architecture will jump out at you immediately. It is inhabitable art. Barcelona indeed has some of the most fascinating architecture and art in the world and certainly achieved its intention of being distinctive and unique.
This Renaixença movement had many great artists as members but the star would have to be Antoni Guadí. He was an architect with a truly unique vision. His pieces are inspired by nature and appear to have grown out of the ground rather than have been built of stone or brick. The round fluid shapes of his work are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The ornamentation of his pieces are spectacular. His famous mosaic lizard (left) is one of his iconic pieces. He helped bring Barcelona into its renaissance with and fascinating geometrical approach to designing buildings, facades and ornamentation. La Sagrada Familia (pictured below) is his staple design and is Spain’s most-visited site and one of the world’s most awe-inspiring cathedrals. Upon first glance it looks a bit like gigantic (558 feet tall) irregular mushrooms or fungi. Very unusual and very beautiful. Gaudí did in fact gather inspiration from such plant-life and fungus which is apparent in a lot of his pieces. A very alternative approach to architecture but also one of the best and most fascinating. His pieces are timeless and have given Barcelona the trademark it longed for in its search for artistic identity.
Elaborate decoration is another staple of Modernisme Barcelona. All around the city there is an abundance of spectacularly decorated buildings. Something called Viennese Secession Style was a major inspiration to the artists and architects in Barcelona. This style is emulating illustrated magazines which were highly fantastic, decorative and vibrant. The decoration and facades of building seem to be as important as the building itself. Special attention was paid to every detail but the intention was not to pander to the elite but to root Catalonia and Barcelona in its own history. Paying due to the middle and working class to bring the area into a more modern world where more than just elitist art was appreciated. This was achieved by associations with local industries like tile making, textiles and plaster moldings. These feats of architecture and decoration kept a lot people employed through creative endeavors. The growth of these industries helped usher in a new reality in Catalonia. And through exploring its roots, Barcelona grew even more beautiful. the result of this way of thinking has created one of the world’s most beautifully artistic cities. Seeing it up close one can’t argue with the unique beauty of Barcelona and its stunning architecture. Modernisme is one of the most interesting stories in European art.
Güell Park is Barcelona’s natural refuge for city dwellers and tourists. It was also designed by Antoni Guadí and is one of Spain’s great marvels. Every inch is covered in beautifully and meticulously placed mosaic tiles. This park is so surreal it’s almost like walking through a painting. It certainly is the architectural equivalent of a Miro (another of Spain’s great artistic masters). All the forms and shapes are warped and seem to lack any consistency. However, these warped and wavy surfaces create a ton of visual interest. Güell Park is a world renowned public park for good reason. The mastery of Guadí and other Spanish architects can forever be enjoyed in this amazing space. Another great thing about this park is the fantastic view of the whole city. As a whole, Barcelona and the Mordernisme movement are captivating. Just walking down the streets of Barcelona is like an outdoor museum experience. Barcelona is truly captivating and its artistic history has shaped it into one of the world’s most unique cities.