Continuing my exploration of Barcelona and the work of Antoni Gaudí, I made my way yesterday to the Sagrada Familia. Other than that it was a massive church still under construction, I didn't know a lot about it before visiting. I found it hard to reconcile the assortment of feelings i experienced, which in some way, I think would make Gaudí (or nearly any artist for that matter) pleased. The church, on the scale of a cathedral, began in 1882, with Gaudí taking over in 1883. It incorporates his familiar Catalon Modernisme and Art Nouveau styles, but is mainly a Hyperboloid interpretation of NeoGothic cathedrals. The first of 18 planned towers was completed just before his death in 1926, with 8 towers currently completed. Artists, architects, and sculptors have continued his work, using his models and sketches as guides and inspiration. Gaudí, who said "my client is in no hurry" of the project, was aware that construction would go on for hundreds of years and left parts of the church less defined in order to incorporate future architectural, artistic, and building styles. It's easy to dismiss newer polished parts of the church as not his or not keeping with older more elaborate parts, but seeing his models and sketches, you may discover that those parts are actually his design. I admit that I expected the design to be more freeform and playful. Though not the case overall, bits of that can be found in unusual elements like on the towers spires or in unexpected and easily missed details. Love it or hate it, the church completely envelops you into its space and light when inside and it's impossible not to be taken into its aura. The light and color play is especially dramatic. Every element contains symbolic meaning, whether obvious or not. Based on the models, its hard to comprehend the scale and complexity of what is still to come (in the last photo, the brown elements are what is complete, the white is yet to be built). I can't help but think he'd be pleased with what has come of his plan.
[note: apologies for blog posts before June 2009 that may not be correctly formatted]