One of Spain’s most internationally recognized architects, Antonio Gaudi has left his mark throughout Barcelona and Catalonia. His whimsical vision and imaginative designs have brought a bit of magic to this historic region. Gaudi´s culmination of traditional elements with fanciful ornamentation and brilliant technical solutions paved the way for future architects to step outside the box. Born in Reus, Catalonia in 1852, Gaudi was the first in over four generations to leave the family tradition of metal working. As a child, Antonio never excelled in school. He suffered from arthritis, which kept his attendance low, and preferred to spend his time observing plants and animals, as well as studying forms in nature, which would eventually be so prominent in his designs. It was also during his early years studying with the Escolapius Fathers that Gaudi recognized the “value of the divine history of the salvation of man through Christ incarnate, given to the world by the Virgin Mary.” He later incorporated such beliefs into his greatest work, The Sagrada Familia. Around 1870 Gaudi moved to Barcelona to study architecture at the Provincial School of Architecture. His grades were again less than superior. However, the young student did earn special recognition in the areas of Trial Drawings and Projects, which allowed him to put his outlandish ideas to use. His professor proclaimed that what had been produced in these two courses was either the work of an insane man or a genius. In 1878 Antoni Gaudi was one of only four students to be granted the title of Architect by the school´s director. At a time of cultural and political renaissance in Europe, Gaudi looked to many sources of inspiration for his work. Medieval books, Gothic art, Oriental structures, the Art Nouveau movement, and, of course, the glory of nature, strongly influenced his designs. His deep love of music, as well as his interest in writers such as John Ruskin, who said that “ornament is...
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