Friday, 3 February 2012

Barcelona - amazing art and glorious Gaudi

You can't fail to be impressed with the general artiness of Barcelona.

Gaudi's influence is obvious, giving a green light to others to free their creativity (both official and unofficial), no matter how bonkers. In fact the more bonkers the better.

As I said in my last blog (Barcelona - survival tips), it's impossible to see everything in 48hrs. 

Unfortunately we didn't have time to visit Fundació Joan (pronounced Jo-an) Miró. However we did see his sculpture, 'Woman and Bird' while on the 'hop-on, hop-off' tourist bus. 

Picture source Wikipedia.
I've also seen his distinctive red iron sculptures displayed in Seattle and New York.

Joan Miró sculpture in Seattle.
Neither did we manage to visit the Picasso Museum, or in fact get into any of the museums of art and culture, which  was a real shame.

We did however see some amazing street sculpture and urban art (aka graffiti).

The Big head (El Cap de Barcelona) by Roy Lichtenstein.
La Gamba by Javier Mariscal (photo by Gill Raine).
Shop front in the Gothic Quarter (photo by Gill Raine).
'Urban art' in the Gothic Quarter.
Three little piggies - urban art.

And we did give Gaudi a pretty good go.

Casa Milá (La Pedrera) on Carrer Provença was Gaudi's last (non religious) building. If you can find a straight line (other than the windows) then I'll give you a prize!

Casa Milá.

Casa Milá.
I've been racking up my UNESCO World Heritage sites this month. Jemaa el Fna Square in Marrakech, the docks in Liverpool and Palau Güell in Barcelona.

According to the time line in the museum, painstaking restoration which began in 1945, was finally finished last year. The house looks nothing from the street and while only minutes from Las Ramblas, is in a fairly run down area. 

But step inside and you are in for a sublime treat.

When Gaudi qualified as an architect, his tutor proclaimed him to be either a genius or a lunatic. "Only time will tell". I suspect that he was right on both counts. The man was a lunatic genius.

Take one lunatic genius and partner him with Eusebe Güell, one of the richest men on the planet at that time and you have a powerful combination. Gaudi was only recently qualified when discovered by Güell. Imagine his glee when Güell arrived with a big fat wallet and blank cheque. "You're stuff's great - here you go son - fill your boots!"

And fill his boots he did, fulfilling his wildest architectural and interior design fantasies until his late 70's when he carelessly got himself run over by a tram.

Palau Güell is incredible - allowing Gaudi to try out all his design ideas. I've run out of superlatives to describe it. Imagine eating your favourite pudding and then times it by 100! 

I'm going to be crude here - basically the man has been allowed to masturbated over the inside of a building, and what he's created is just orgasmic.

I'm going to shut up now and post some pictures, which of course won't do it the slightest justice.

Palau Güell - stables / basement.

Looking out over the courtyard at the back.

Everything designed to maximise light and the illusion of space.

Looking all the way up to heaven.

I thought that Gaudi had peaked with  Palau Güell. I was wrong.

La Sagrada Família or Gaudi Cathedral takes that prize. It's been a work in progress for 130 years, with an estimated further 20 years to go, but it is absolutely breath taking.

As a vicar's daughter, I feel like I speak with a degree of authority on this matter. Over the years, I have been in many, many cathedrals - but never one like this.

From the outside it looks like it's been melted.

La Sagrada Família.
 But when you get up close, you realise it's got a whole community of people living on it.

The doors into the cathedral are covered in scripture.

While the inside just looks like it's been iced. The last time I felt so small was in the Grand Canyon. With the pillars stretched out like chewing gum soaring above me and massive daisy's on the ceiling - it was like stepping into Wonka-world.

Natural light directly over the alter.
 The light and colours created by the glass in the windows, which followed the order of the rainbow, are exquisite.

 If I haven't convinced you to visit Barcelona by now then I might as well give up!


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