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Antoni Gaudí's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

The modernist or Modernisme Català (, Catalan modernism ') is a cultural and social renewal movement in the Catalan-speaking space, the, architecture, literature and music found expression in art. The architectural style that developed from around 1885 to 1920 in Catalonia , mainly in Barcelona , and of which Antoni Gaudí was the main representative , became particularly well-known internationally . Modernisme was part of a current that spread across Europe . This movement arose from a weariness with neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque aesthetics of the 19th century and ended with a turn to architectural rationalism in the 1920s and 1930s. Architecturally, this movement may have developed into the most advanced form of Art Nouveau.

Modernism in a European context

Modernismic buildings on Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona

At the same time as the movement in Catalonia, similar styles also developed in other parts of Europe and, occasionally, in America. The main parallel developments were Arts & Crafts in England , Art Nouveau in Germany , Art Nouveau in Belgium ( Victor Horta ) and France ( Guimard ), Vienna Secession ( Otto Wagner ) in Austria , arte nuova or stile floreale in Italy etc.

Towards the end of the 19th century, there was an increasing tendency in Europe to break with the traditional features of architecture and to look for forms of construction suitable for the 20th century. This urge arose from the industrial revolution and the spread of its developments such as steam engine , railroad, and electricity . This changed the life of the population fundamentally and led to the growth of cities, where industries settled and civil structures were formed. Modernisme (and Art Nouveau in general) is therefore an urban and bourgeois style.

In painting, the influences of impressionism and symbolism in particular shaped a movement that had no stylistic roots, but which had a common trait: the will to be modern. Characteristics comparable to Art Nouveau can be found above all in the advertising graphics by Gaspar Camps i Junyent , Ramón Casas i Carbó and Miquel Utrillo i Morlius .

From 1906 the modernism was replaced by the Catalan form of neoclassicism or rationalism, the noucentisme . Its representatives accused modernism of being an anarchic and decadent art form. In contrast to the “romantic chaos” of modernism, they advocated order, clarity, harmony, measure and rationality in architecture.

Traditional materials and techniques in architecture and handicrafts

Roof construction with "Catalan Arch" of the Museum of Technology in Terrassa

Modernism rejected the unattractive industrial architecture of the first half of the 19th century and developed new architectural concepts based on "naturalness" and "movement". This is particularly evident in the building materials and techniques used in accordance with Catalan tradition, in the shapes of the buildings and in the design of the facades . A special feature is the so-called " Catalan vault " in ceiling constructions or outside stairs. The bricks are walled on their broad side in an arch with quick-drying plaster of paris to be self-supporting. Then one or more additional layers of mortar are applied to this sufficiently strong sheet . The facades of the buildings are often adorned with decorative elements such as birds, butterflies, leaves and flowers made of stone or ceramic - often assembled from fragments using the Trencadís mosaic technique. The window and balcony grilles are often made of wrought iron and mostly have motifs inspired by nature.

Bourgeoisie and patronage

The development of modernism in Catalonia was driven by the bourgeoisie, who viewed themselves as Catalan , cultured and art-savvy . It wanted to transform the Renaixença culture into a modern and national culture and willingly opened itself up to modernism, as all its manifestations such as architecture, sculpture, painting, furniture or jewelry allowed art to be incorporated into daily life. Modernism thus developed into a symbol of economic power and a new cosmopolitanism of the Catalan bourgeoisie.

Barcelona and modernism

Simultaneously with the emerging modernism, the restricting city walls of Barcelona were torn down and the city expansion in the Eixample began . Therefore there are numerous witnesses of this architectural style, and Barcelona is one of the cities with the most Art Nouveau buildings in the world. The city became an artistic center. Modernist painters and writers such as Ramon Casas and Santiago Rusiñol met in the artist bar Els Quatre Gats . The possibility of using this architecture to satisfy the longing for modernity, to express the Catalan identity and to show one's wealth in a discreet way explains the patronage of the upper class that was widespread at the time, such as that between Eusebi Güell and Antoni Gaudí .

Several famous buildings by Antoni Gaudi can be visited in Barcelona. These include the Casa Milà ( La Pedrera ), the Palau Güell , the Parc Güell , the Casa Batlló , the Casa Vicens , the Casa Calvet and the still unfinished church atonement temple Sagrada Família , which has been built according to Gaudi's plans since 1882 . Since 1984 and 2005, these buildings are part of the World Heritage of UNESCO . Since 1997, two buildings by Lluís Domènech i Montaner , the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau and the Palau de la Música Catalana , have also been world heritage sites in Barcelona.

Even if Barcelona can be described as the center of modernism, there are also significant buildings by modernist architects in Tarragona, Reus near Tarragona, Comittas and on Mallorca in Palma (former Gran Hotel , Almacenes El Águila department store ) and Soller (Banco de Soller) and in Cartagena (Murcia province).

Els Quatre Gats

Ramon Casas: Ramon Casas i Pere Romeu en un tàndem ( Ramon Casas and Pere Romeu on a tandem ), 1897

The modernist world of artists created its center in Barcelona in Els Quatre Gats ('The Four Hangovers'), a bar in the style of the Parisian cabaret Le Chat Noir . The bar on the ground floor of Casa Martí by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch was opened in June 1897 and financed by the painter and graphic artist Ramon Casas . The bar was open for six years. In 1978 it was reopened.

The business partners were Pere Romeu , formerly a waiter at Le Chat Noir in Paris , Santiago Rusiñol and Miquel Utrillo . Lectures and art exhibitions were held in the bar, including one of the first by Pablo Picasso . The most famous painting from the bar is the self-portrait of Casas with Romeu on a tandem bicycle, which was replaced in 1901 by Casas' painting Commençaments del segle XX ('Beginning of the 20th Century') from 1901 . The 208 × 291 cm painting shows Casas and Romeu with the terrier Ziem on a Charrot automobile. Both paintings have been in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC), the National Museum of Catalan Art in Barcelona , since 2010 .

Just like Le Chat noir , the artists of Els Quatre Gats also published their own literary magazine, which, however, only had a short life.

Important representatives of modernism

Park Güell by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona

Among the more than 100 architects who created modernist buildings, three are particularly noteworthy:

Other important architects of modernism:

Among the best-known representatives of modernism in the visual arts

Ruta del Modernisme

The Ruta del Modernisme is a route promoted by the city council of Barcelona to 116 selected works of modernism in the city area. It offers a good cross-section of the work of various architects. Tarragona also offers a Ruta Modernista with 23 objects.

Web links

Commons : Modernisme  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Francesc Fontbona: El Modernista, Pintura i Dibuix . Edicions L'Isard, Barcelona 2003, ISBN 8489931259
  2. FAZ of August 7, 2010, p. 33