Modernisme


We’ve seen Roman, Medieval, and contemporary Barcelona.  The movement that has had the biggest impact is known as Modernisme.  Combining the historical past with new technologies at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century combined to make this a most interesting architectural movement. It is colorful, flamboyant, and honors natural and organic forms.  It began in 1888 at the Universal Exposition and culminated around 1930.  It parallels the artistic movements of Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts throughout Europe and the US.  In the 19th century the city expanded to the north creating Eixample, a new neighborhood that allowed architects to experiment, hence came Modernisme.  One of the best examples of this style is the Palau Musica de Catalunya.  The architect Domenech i Montaner designed every single piece inside and outside of this amazing musical venue that is a UNESCO site and has a variety of 300 musical performances annually.  It took only three years to fully complete which is unheard of but Montaner supervised every single thing and iron was used for the structure itself which made erecting the building more efficient.

The exterior corner of the Palau Musica de Catalunya. The building was completed in 1908 in the "old" part of Barcelona.
The exterior corner of the Palau Musica de Catalunya. The building was completed in 1908 in the “old” part of Barcelona. And of course, there is St. George slaying the dragon at the very top.
It's hard to get a true perspective on the exterior as it's crowded in among other buildings and until recently had a church right up against it's Western side that blocked the light. It was renovated in 2008 after the church was demolished.
It’s hard to get a true perspective on the exterior as it’s crowded in among other buildings and until recently had a church right up against it’s Western side that blocked the light. It was renovated in 2008 after the church was demolished.
You can see how this building is a combination of old and new (Modernisme).
You can see how this building is a combination of old and new (Modernisme).
The grand entry. One can imagine the elite of Barcelona parading up and down the stairs.
The grand entry. One can imagine the elite of Barcelona parading up and down the stairs.
The upper foyer houses busts of many famous performers (all local) and the next slide is one of the only ones I recognized.
The upper foyer houses busts of many famous performers (all local) and the next slide is one of the only ones I recognized.
Pablo Casals
Pablo Casals
Close up of the mosaic columns in the front balcony of the hall.
Close up of the mosaic columns in the front balcony of the hall.
From the upper balcony looking down. The hall seats about 2000 and is the only concert hall in Europe lit by natural light.
From the upper balcony looking down. The hall seats about 2000 and is the only concert hall in Europe lit by natural light.
The hall seats 2000 people. All performances are on the stage and opera is performed in concert form, no scenery changes.
The hall seats 2000 people. All performances are on the stage and opera is performed in concert form, no scenery changes.
Ceiling from below
Ceiling from below
Ceiling detail all around the central window.
Ceiling detail all around the central window.
The corners of the hall are covered in mosaic with very large sculptures projecting into the space.
The corners of the hall are covered in mosaic with very large sculptures projecting into the space.
Floor to ceiling windows add additional light into the hall.
Floor to ceiling windows add additional light into the hall.
The organ was played for us. The acoustics are quite remarkable.
The organ was played for us. The acoustics are quite remarkable.
On both sides of the stage are figures with protruding heads and instruments in relief and mosaic bodies. There are nine female figures on each side.
On both sides of the stage are figures with protruding heads and instruments in relief and mosaic bodies. There are nine female figures on each side.
Each figure is unique and depicts a different era or type of music.
Each figure is unique and depicts a different era or type of music.
To the left front of the stage is the original inspirational leader of Catalan music (Clave) who is responsible for creating this showcase. He represents the local music heritage.
To the left front of the stage is the original inspirational leader of Catalan music (Clave) who is responsible for creating this showcase. He represents the local music heritage.
On the right hand side is Beethoven, representing the international musical heritage which is also performed in this hall.
On the right hand side is Beethoven, representing the international musical heritage which is also performed in this hall.
In the newer part of town (Eixample) is another example of Modernisme.  It is a row of three building that occupy one block.  They are by three different architects and the block is called "Illa de la Discordia" because of the range of styles.
In the newer part of town (Eixample) is another example of Modernisme. It is a row of three building that occupy one block. They are by three different architects and the block is called “Illa de la Discordia” because of the range of styles.
First is by the same architect as the Palau Musica, Montaner designed in 1902.  You can see how the old and new mix together in this building.
First is by the same architect as the Palau Musica, Montaner designed in 1902. You can see how the old and new mix together in this building.
Next is Casa Amattler, designed by Puig i Cadfalch in 1898.  It has a stepped gable roof blending Moorish and Gothic windows with Modernisme.
Next is Casa Amattler, designed by Puig i Cadfalch in 1898. It has a stepped gable roof blending Moorish and Gothic windows with Modernisme.
The third building is Casa Batllo by Antoni Gaudi has the most unusual facade with its undulating natural forms.  It is a renovation of a previously existing building and the renovation was done in 1906.
The third building is Casa Batllo by Antoni Gaudi has the most unusual facade with its undulating natural forms. It is a renovation of a previously existing building and the renovation was done in 1906.
Here is a model showing the before and after renovation of the facade.
Here is a model showing the before and after renovation of the facade.
Notice the dragon form on the roof (remember St. George and the Dragon)...
Notice the dragon form on the roof (remember St. George and the Dragon)…

One thought on “Modernisme

  1. Mina:
    I can’t believe everything you have been able to see! You are so lucky to travel and see the world. The Palau de la Música Catalana is so beautiful. I am in love with the stained glass in the ceiling and I’ve never seen any stained glass quite like that before and I am amazed. Still enjoying your travels and all your pictures!
    ~Candyce

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