Antoni Gaudi, Modernisme and Barcelona

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. – Albert Einstein

Anything created by human beings is already in the great book of nature.– Antoni Gaudi

Do you wonder too, if with this novel and principal idea, did Einstein inspire the Art Nouveau movement? I wouldn’t go that far, although this thought of aligning art with nature seemed to be the most popular idea among geniuses in the late 19th century. From Victor Horta in Brussels to his contemporary Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, these artists had created masterpieces that continue to amaze us more than a century later.

While I have seen, observed, written and shared about Art Nouveau marvels in Brussels, there is a big repository in Catalunya (particularly Barcelona) as well. The Art Nouveau movement began in Catalan around 1888 and was named ‘Modernisme.’ Propagated majorly by Gaudi in art and architecture, this was also a literary movement until 1911. Gaudi is, of course, the most famous, since he managed to create a unique personal style outside the realm of Modernisme during the period. Born in Reus in 1852, Antoni Gaudi i Cornet always wanted to study Architecture and did so, graduating in Barcelona in 1878.

Gaudi believed that he had Mediterranean heritage and was deeply influenced by the nature and art there. If you notice the motifs and shapes closely in most of his works, there is a distinct flavour and fragrance off the sea – its waves, the flora and fauna. This set of seven tiles, repeated in a pattern to create this Mediterranean atmosphere is no less than a work of astounding art. They include fossil shell, starfish and algae. These tiles were meant to be used in Casa Batlló, but the plan was scrapped and they were installed in Casa Milà instead. I probably missed clicking these tiles on the Passeig de Gràcia, the footpath right in front of Casa Batlló.

Maritime tiles

The motifs and symbolisms in Park Güell are better examples of Gaudi’s work in this phase of naturalism. From the iconic mosaic Salamander to benches in shape of a sea serpent, Gaudi has bared his love for nature in this park commissioned to him by the industrialist Eusebio Güell. If you notice the bench closely in the photo below, there are little holes to collect rainwater for the park, designed by Gaudi. The bench has strategic curves too for hosting conversations between the visitors to prevent eavesdropping. If that does not display the genius of Antoni Gaudi, I possibly cannot fathom what else would!

Serpent bench
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Art Nouveau Walk : Hidden Gems in Brussels

‘If you happen to live in Belgium, you can’t escape the Art Nouveau architecture all around the cities, most of it in Brussels though.’

That opening is a repetition from my first article on Art Nouveau architecture in Belgium. We are blessed to be living in the EU quarter of Brussels, surrounded by wonderful Art Nouveau buildings from 1890-1910. We participated in an Art Nouveau walk on the occasion of World Art Nouveau Day, organised by Dorka Demeter and We Love Brussels. The purpose was to know each other in a group of AN enthusiasts on social media and find some hidden gems in the EU quarter. Presenting a few from the ones we spotted.

Palmerston Avenue 4 – Victor Horta (1895)

Victor Horta designed this famous house for Edmond Van Eetvelde in 1895. The house has four levels, designed symmetrically in riveted metal beams. The designs are subtly exquisite and the garden grill has interesting details. We haven’t been inside the house yet, but it has a stunning winter garden.

Palmerston Avenue 3 x Rue Boduognat 14 – Victor Horta (1896)

Dorka, our guide, shared an amazing story about this enormous house. Georges Deprez was the director of the crystal factories at Val Saint-Lambert. His wife Mrs Van De Velde liked the Hotel Van Eetvelde right across the street and they commissioned Victor Horta to design this house. Horta used his distinct style of waves and created this beauty. The façade has intricate blue stone carvings.

Rue Philippe le Bon 51, 53 – Edouard Elle (1902)

This set of twin houses, mirror images of each other were designed by Edouard Elle in 1902. In the last image, note the identical doors, stained glass windows, sgraffito and geometrical windows. I particularly liked the blue stone low arches over the doors. These are a delight to look at, number 53 has been recently renovated.

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Never Too Late to Learn a Stitch

I have been stitching for years, if I may be allowed to proclaim. And yet, my skills were limited to the basic run and cross stitches. Over the years, I have discovered that there are hundreds of other stitches, of which, a few might be grasped by the limited aptitude that I possess. Despite of having realised so, I did not consciously make an effort to learn those. A fishbone or herringbone stitch looks very beautiful but involves a bit of learning and patience. I found this Embroidery Bingo on social media by Jessica Long and decided to give it a chance. At the end of the year, this was one of the highlights of my otherwise trashy year (2021).

Bingo board 2021

I hadn’t played a Bingo ever, let alone an embroidery one! The task seemed daunting but the tutorial videos were so descriptive and assistive, that now I can assert of having mastered a few of these. Grasped, rather, not mastered. I can safely say that from the above board, French Knots have become my absolute favourite! Since then, I have been using them in my Embroidery Journal for 2022. More on that later. But let me show you the Bingo board for this year with more gorgeous stitches.

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