Two of the most influential Catalan artistic minds in the last hundred years include Antoni Gaudi, architect and Salvadore Dali, painter. There are many reasons to hate and love both of them as their lives and art forms were both beautiful and provocative. Taking time to understand these influential figures in Catalan culture will allow you to make up your mind whether to love or hate these artists. By staying in Barcelona in an old town apartment you can explore these figures and their influences throughout the city.
Born in 1852 in Reus (or Riudom as it’s not fully confirmed), his ancestors are thought to have been from the Auvergne region of Southern France. After moving to Barcelona to continue his studies, his artistic nature started to develop and in 1878 he graduated from the Barcelona Higher School of Architecture, with barely passing grades. The director of the school told Gaudi, “we have given this academic title to a fool or a genius. Time will show.”
Gaudi’s earlier works were more influenced by an oriental style because of the influence he had during his official studies. The oriental movement in architecture can be seen in his earlier works such as Guell Palace, Guell Pavillions, and the Casa Vicens. His middle years were more shaped by the Gothic revival combined with the modernisme movement where structural form, function and artistic beauty were combined.
Related article: Casa Museum Gaudí in Barcelona
His later years were given over to a more natural and personal style that took its inspiration from the natural world. His magnum opus was the Sagrada Familia that has yet to be finished, even though he died in 1926. Several of his works have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and he has been beatified by the Roman Catholic Church and is generally accepted as a world-renowned architectural genius. Yet from his death until the 1970s he was considered persona non-gratis in architectural circles as his works were disdained for their excessive machinations. As a devout catholic and vegetarian it is hard not to love Gaudi as a person and his works.
It may be easier to hate Dali than Gaudi, as his public antics often overshadowed the genius of his artwork. His eccentricities included outlandish public displays in costume or with his pet Ocelot (a type of small leopard). He often avoided paying restaurant bills by simply sketching artwork on the back of the check assuming the restaurant owner would rather have a piece of his artwork than his money.
However as one of the most influential artists in the last 200 years known most famously for his paintings and artworks in the arena of surrealism of which he is best known for painting The Persistence of Memory. It is a surrealist painting depicting melting clocks and relates in dialogue to Einstein’s theory of relativity, where time is fluid and not fixed.
It is probably easier to hate Salvador Dali because of his eccentric behavior yet it cannot be denied he was an art genius. Consider this the next time you stay in an old town apartment in Barcelona.
If you have specific anecdotes or stories about these two great artists that can help others decide whether to hate or love them, please post below.