Modernism; why is Barcelona still its capital?
It is said that Gaudí’s death meant the end of Modernism in Europe. However Modernism is an art which is still alive and part of living in Barcelona.
In Catalonia in general and Barcelona more specifically, the emergence of the modernism movement was matched with a period of economic growth and national reaffirmation. During that grew in wealth and power (during the mid- 19th century) our region strove to reestablish its national identity, separate to Spain’s, by firstly restoring its own language (Catalan) and also by a vast injection of modern ideas.
Consequently, Gaudí, Domènech i Muntaner, Puig i Cadafalch and other artists, made Barcelona be a world referent in terms of modern art.
Modernism was a transversal movement across all of the arts, not just architecture, which co-existed with the Catalan Renaissance. The Renaissance’s main vehicle was Modernisme, which is simply the Catalan word for ‘Modernism’ and refers to the Art Nouveau movement, which was already taking place in England, France, Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
Broadly speaking, modernist style can be defined by the predominance of the curve, the asymmetry, the dynamism of forms, the detail of the decoration in search for aesthetics per se and the frequent use of natural motifs or women’s figure.
From the temple that has become a symbol of the city to impressive palatial residences, passing through everyday buildings, shops, streets, lampposts and benches: if you walk through Barcelona you can still feel the legacy and footprint that such artists left in our land.
That’s the reason why people who cherish art usually fall in love with this little city in Europe, where a piece of architectonic beauty can be found hiding behind every corner.