Header image by Natalie Rapoport. Antoni Gaudi. Sagrada Familia. Barcelona.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Park Guell

This will probably be the last post in Antoni Gaudi series. Park Guell in Barcelona was his last public project before he committed all his entire time and talent to Sagrada Familia.


Gaudi was a talented artist and a craftsman as well as a visionary architect who was way ahead of his time. Not many understood and appreciated his genius.
But among the selected few who sincerely admired and supported Gaudi for years and commissioned the architect with significant projects was Count Eusebi Guell.
He was a prominent entrepreneur and a devoted friend of Gaudi.
As soon as the wast park area on the far outskirts of Barcelona was acquired in 1900 the idea to create and ideal futuristic village for the wealthiest was born. Or maybe it was the other way around. The architect had so many exuberant ideas that he needed the opportunity to present itself to implement the playful side of his many talents.

It was supposed to be 60 homes scattered on a hilly park area, but wealthy Barcelonans showed little interest in moving to the suburbs and only two cute gingerbread gatehouses with spiky wrought iron gates were completed by 1914 when hardships of WWI put the whole project to the infinite halt.

So far were accomplished the market area  with leaning columns and wavy ceilings with mosaic medallions, a query like promenade gallery, landscaping and the stairs with the psychedelic lizard fountain which became one of the landmarks of Barcelona much later.

And of course the famous serpentine bench on the esplanade over the market  covered entirely with unique mosaics. Bright colors and intricate patterns were created in collaboration with another Moderniste architect  Josep Maria Jujol. In fact  it was Jujol who put it together  using the technique of  trencadis , or broken bits of tile  (trencar  means to break in Catalan).

The mosaic serpentine bench.
Not to mention the tiny cozy pink castle like house built for Gaudi by his follower architect and right-hand man Francesc Berenguer i Mestres, were Gaudi lived for 20 years with his niece who looked after him. Unfortunately not much of original furnishings and décor survived, but ornamented tile floors, ceiling medallions and moldings did. And the views from the windows could be fantastic if it wasn’t for  later ugly building developments of 60-70 which inevitably are sticking out, making clean shots next to impossible.
The whole park today is beautiful and lush but in a high season heat there may be more visitors than trees. And it’s quite hilly, so be prepared for a good work out.

The main attraction of the park beside the unique landscaping and relief are numerous mosaics which are everywhere. There’re so many ornamental ideas for textiles. Every close  up could be turned into fashionable print, fantastic fabric pattern and very modern one. Sheer paradise for aspiring textile designer.

Needless to say that souvenir industry benefits heavily transferring the colorful fragments on t-shirts, umbrellas, glassware , ceramics and countless trinkets.

When all these mosaics are shining  and playing with colors on funny roofs, window casings, a bit squashed tower, harmfully ferocious lizard/dragon, serpentine border/bench, walls an fences and all this rainbow happens on the green backdrop of abundant vegetation, surrounded by palms and trees and exotic flowers it’s  breathtaking beautiful.

The ceiling floral ornament and the stairs in Gaudi's house. 
Promenade query-like gallery 

This necklace is inspired by mosaics. 
I acquired a couple of handmade artisan glass  beads recently and designed this shiny piece.

Thank you for coming.

*All imagers copyright by Natalie Rapoport.