ISBN is

978-0-06-621065-0 / 0066210658

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About the book:

The sinuous forms and lavish decorations of Antonio Gaudí (1852-1926) broke the mold in architecture. "His imagination burnt holes through the musty pattern books," writes Gijs van Hensbergen. "His gift was an amazing capacity to imagine a building and then transform it into reality." Gaudí's fantastical creations give Barcelona an appearance unlike any other city in the world. One of the paradoxes that informs his many-layered biography is that this most original of architects was politically conservative and profoundly Catholic, fired by the desire to celebrate the history and culture of his native Catalonia. Hensbergen, author of books on art deco and travel in Spain, devotes a good deal of his book to situating Gaudí's life and thought within the context of Catalonian traditions, particularly the 19th-century Renaixença, which sought to revive the region's language (Catalan) and to affirm its national identity against the Spanish government's desire to absorb it. He surrounds Gaudí, too often depicted as an isolated eccentric, with the friends and patrons who shared his vision, illuminating the architect's impact both within Catalonia and beyond its borders. (Admirers included the surrealists, whose atheism and radicalism were anathema to Gaudí.) Detailed knowledge of Gaudí's leisurely, wickedly expensive working methods and the complex use he made of previous architectural traditions gives us a better understanding of the unique nature of his genius, while Hensbergen's obvious (though not uncritical) affection for his subject as a man helps us appreciate "an extraordinarily creative and religiously charged life." --Wendy Smith

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