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Gaudí through Gaudí's Exhibition

50th Anniversary Polytechnic University of Catalonia · BarcelonaTech — Beyond the ETSAB Archive 1875–2025

Josep Mª Sostres*

The exhibition currently open to the public in the Tinell Hall, organized by the ‘Amigos de Gaudí’ entity, has arrived at the right time—somewhat delayed in relation to the Centennial year coinciding with the universal appreciation of Gaudí—to be able to contemplate this broad set of Gaudí’s production with the greatest cultural objectivity, that is, without haggling our effort to appreciate what Gaudí means, nor letting enthusiasm exceed the limits of a subject that is already so exciting.

This splendid set of photographs, some of them enlarged to a larger than life size, the models of the Temple of the Sagrada Familia, original drawings by the Master’s hand, furniture designed by him and that in his day set the interiors of his buildings, they constitute the valuable content of this Exhibition. In it, unpublished pieces of great interest can be admired, such as the plans and sections of some of his works, now missing and which, if they existed, would surely not correspond to the exact present reality. As is known, Gaudí corrected, molded and improvised in the course of the work, frequently departing from the original project. The plastic takes on such a fundamental role in his work that certain effects could only have been achieved with direct molding working on the living matter of reality. And for this reason many of his projects remind us of the preparatory drawings of a sculptor, sketching on paper the volumes and rhythms that as a starting point he will later develop in the matter of his work. These exposed plans and sections, of the Colonia Güell’s crypt, the Casa Milà i Camps, the Convent of the Teresianas, the beautiful patio of the Casa Batlló, have had to be rebuilt in a delicate work of rethinking and thanks to the efforts of the architects Mr. Lluís Bonet Garí and Mr. César Martinell, so well known to all for their work to disseminate Gaudi’s work and who on this occasion offer us—as a tribute of respectful affection to the Master’s work—the opportunity to admire the complex anatomy of those buildings, their interior life and the dynamic planimetry that generates their shapes and structures.

Gaudí, always on the edge of Architecture and the other plastic arts, is reflected in the Exhibition in a way that we wonder if the future will take into account the great sculptor and painter that Gaudí was more than the architect himself. His work was, however, the fruit of a collaboration with a large orchestra. And it is a duty to remember at this moment the names of his best collaborators and who formed around him what today we would call a team, oriented and directed by the unitary vision of the Master. Gaudí, the most powerful genius of “Art Nouveau”, had the right intuition to choose those essential personalities without whom his work would not exist, or at least would not have such an overwhelming force of nuances and qualities. It is enough to remember that the Pedrera parapets, true iron sculptures, were the work of the architect Josep M.ª Jujol, as well as some of the chimneys of the same building, which remind us of ‘forms developing in space,’ and that they are an immediate precedent for Italian Futurist sculptures, particularly the work of Boccioni. Jujol, an extraordinary colourist, also took part in the realization of the Park Güell benches and the plastic findings of the rose windows in the hypostyle room. One day it will be advisable to deal extensively with this great artist, overshadowed by the glory of the genius and by the worship subsequently rendered to his personality, as has happened with other ‘partners’ such as Berenguer and Sugrañes, and duly assess the contribution of each of them to the Gaudinian opus.

Photography has been the great auxiliary of Architecture and without it, on the other hand, the work of an architect could not be presented as in the exhibition at hand. Photography has also had a considerable influence on the evolution of Architecture, as was the case with the other figurative arts from Impressionism to Cubism. It is interesting in the Gaudí Exhibition to follow through photography this ‘way of seeing’ that the objective has provided us, from the first contemporary photos of the Mas archive, descriptive, virtuous, balanced in contrast of light and shadow, to the most recent by Gomis-Prats and Català Roca, in which the influence of abstract art conditions technique and theme and space-time values, as well as a clearer awareness of the object.

As a final point to these comments, a reference to Tinell as an Exhibition Hall is mandatory. This room, the most beautiful space of civil Gothic architecture, its stones of historical evocations throbbing, represents practically a 570 m2 space placed in a central location and the latter is the reason why the Gaudí Exhibition is installed there. We have to affirm that the function of exhibiting requires a background that is as neutral as possible to avoid confusion and a free interplay between container and content that is not always favorable to granting the greatest importance to the quality of what is exposed. Fortunately in this case the game has turned out well and the sober and naked architecture of Tinell and Gaudí are fully identified as a timeless expression of the same constants.


* ‘Gaudí through Gaudí’s Exhibition,’ Diario de Barcelona, June 13, 1956. Reprinted in: José María Sostres, Opiniones sobre Arquitectura (Murcia: Colegio de Aparejadores, 1983) 73-76.


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