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Gaudi: A Biography Paperback – November 4, 2003
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The sinuous forms and lavish decorations of Antonio Gaudí (1852-1926) broke the mold in architecture. "His imagination burnt holes through the musty pattern books," writes Gijs van Hensbergen. "His gift was an amazing capacity to imagine a building and then transform it into reality." Gaudí's fantastical creations give Barcelona an appearance unlike any other city in the world. One of the paradoxes that informs his many-layered biography is that this most original of architects was politically conservative and profoundly Catholic, fired by the desire to celebrate the history and culture of his native Catalonia. Hensbergen, author of books on art deco and travel in Spain, devotes a good deal of his book to situating Gaudí's life and thought within the context of Catalonian traditions, particularly the 19th-century Renaixença, which sought to revive the region's language (Catalan) and to affirm its national identity against the Spanish government's desire to absorb it. He surrounds Gaudí, too often depicted as an isolated eccentric, with the friends and patrons who shared his vision, illuminating the architect's impact both within Catalonia and beyond its borders. (Admirers included the surrealists, whose atheism and radicalism were anathema to Gaudí.) Detailed knowledge of Gaudí's leisurely, wickedly expensive working methods and the complex use he made of previous architectural traditions gives us a better understanding of the unique nature of his genius, while Hensbergen's obvious (though not uncritical) affection for his subject as a man helps us appreciate "an extraordinarily creative and religiously charged life." --Wendy Smith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Gaudi (1852-1926) is the Catalan architect most renowned for his Sagrada Familia cathedral and Park Guell in Barcelona; both feature dripping organic forms that fascinate some viewers and repel others. Van Hensbergen (A Taste of Castille), a U.K.-based lecturer on architecture, was able to do his research in Catalan, an inestimable advantage for any writer on Gaudi. In 16 lucid chapters, Gaudi's life and work are examined, from his ardent Catholicism and patriotism to his celibacy, which resulted from a disappointment in love. The chapter titles reflect the architect's own high-flown ambitions, but the writing doesn't contain the flatulent prose sometimes produced by fans of builders and buildings. Gaudi's often combative dealings with civic authorities are recounted clearly, up to his death in a street accident involving a tram, and are reconstructed as thoroughly as possible, yet not elaborated on or fabricated, as many another biographer might have tried to do. The author's virtues of balance and good taste are evident everywhere in this book, making it a powerfully creditable testament to the permanent value of Gaudi's contributions. Work on Gaudi is scarce in English, so this is truly a landmark effort. The book will fascinate anyone interested in modern architecture and urbanism, Spanish art or the relationships between art, religion and social improvement. Color and b&w illus. not seen by PW.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.