Aesthetics exploration – Catalan Modernisme in Arquitecture

I chose Catalan Modernisme in Arquitecture as an aesthetic to explore for two reasons: one is the admiration and appreciation I have for those buildings and the other is that I am Catalan. To me, all the buildings built during this movement share a relation with practicality and beautifulness that cannot be found in any other. This movement not only did its impact in architecture, it was also found in machinery, paintings, literature… But for the purpose of this post we will focus in the architecture.

Modernisme is an artistic renewal movement developed between the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century. This was present throughout Europe and it had different names for each country, for example in Spain was called Modernismo, in France it was called Art nouveau or in Great Britain it was also called Modern style. In Catalonia this movement had personality enough to differentiate it from others. This is due to the big number of pieces of art and the big number of world first class artists.

                        Interior of Casa Batlló (Barcelona)
                    La pedrera or Casa Milà (Barcelona)









This movement had the intention to create a new art, young, free and modern. A new art that broke up with the dominant styles during these times such as the academic traditionalist (historicism and eclecticism) and also the more disruptive ones (realism or impressionism). This new style had a predominant inspiration in nature but also was big influenced by the industrial revolution and its novelties such as electricity, the train and the steam engine. All of those novelties completely changed the lifestyle of society.

  Steam Engine room of a textile factory (Terrassa)

Some of the big players in the movement were Architects such as Antoni Gaudí (designer of exceptional buildings like the Sagrada Familia or Casa Batlló in Barcelona), Lluís Domenech I Montaner (designer of Palau de la Música Catalana) and Josep Puig I Cadafalch, among others.

    Antoni Gaudí 1878

Palau de la Música Catalana (Barcelona)                                                       

                                                                                                                   Casa Batlló (Barcelona) 

In general, it is agreed that the Catalan Modernisme begins on 1888 with the universal exposition of Barcelona, even though there are some precedents years before found in some buildings. During those years also the old protecting walls of Barcelona were torn down with plans of expansion so a lot of buildings following this art movement were built.

The end of the Catalan Modernisme was in the third decade of the XX century, like all the similar movements in Europe. Some of the causes of its decadence in summary were not being able to keep up with the necessity of standardizing that modern industrial production demanded and also with the demand for building social accommodation. Also its end was greatly influenced by the new avant-garde aesthetic of the beginning of the XX century. What we could consider as a following of the Catalan Modernisme was the Catalan Noucentisme and the Arquitectural Rationalism of the 20th and 30th decade of the XX century.

Casa Batlló



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