BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  Entertainment: Arts
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 18:45 GMT
Barcelona wishes Gaudi happy birthday
The view of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia from his building La Pedrera
Antoni Gaudi left an indelible mark on the city he loved
Barcelona is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of Catalonia's most famous sons, the eccentric architect Antoni Gaudi.

The Catalan capital has declared 2002 the International Year of Gaudi, and will be launching a campaign to promote his importance as an artist.

It plans to use the year to advance construction on some of the architect's buildings, including the Park Guell and the Bellesguard Tower.

The event is due to be officially inaugurated in March, with a big party in the city attended by Queen Sofia of Spain and the American architect Frank O Gehry, who will make a speech in honour of Gaudi.

The Park Guell
Work continues on the bizarre Park Guell

Gehry's Guggenheim museum, in the Basque city of Bilbao, is itself an extremely ambitious building, and draws more than a million visitors a year.

"Finally, Gaudi is receiving the national and international recognition he deserves," a spokesman for the Year of Gaudi said.

"He hasn't always had the place he deserves in history."

"He dared to do whatever he imagined," a spokesman for the Gaudi Club in Barcelona said. "Some people consider that genius."

Gaudi's work is unique.

La Pedrera
La Pedrera: Open to the public, like all Gaudi's buildings

He was inspired by nature and imitated it, mimicking a sparkling pool of water with blue, mosaic tiles and using organic shapes of vegetation, animals and the human body as a basis for his designs.

Some of his terraces are made up of abstract swirls, and some of his balconies resemble skulls.

His work has always provoked strong feelings.

In his Spanish Civil War memoir, Homage to Catalonia, the English writer George Orwell called Gaudi's Sagrada Familia cathedral "one of the most hideous buildings in the world".

He laments that the building was not blown up during the war.

'Stone poem'

In 1915, Monsignor Ragonesi, Papal Nuncio in Spain, visited the Sagrada Familia when it was in the early stages of construction.

"Maestro, you are the Dante of architecture," he told Gaudi. "Your magnificent work is a Christian poem carved in stone."

The cathedral remains unfinished, and surrounded by cranes, as architects and builders continue to try to realise Gaudi's vision.

Gaudi was known as an eccentric during his own lifetime.

His appearance was so shabby at the end of his life that when he was run over by a tram as he crossed a busy street in 1926, taxi drivers thought he was a vagrant and refused to take him to a hospital.

He died three days later, having spent his final year living like a hermit inside his own studio.

See also:

09 Mar 00 | Europe
Gaudi's first steps to sainthood
06 May 99 | e-cyclopedia
Catalonia chic: UK pays homage
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Arts stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Arts stories