Gaudí's Vision: 140 Years After the First Stone
On March 19th, 1882 (St. Joseph’s Day), the bishop of Barcelona laid the cornerstone of present-day World Heritage Site and unmistakable city icon: the Sagrada Familia.
A Moment Lasts Forever
At the time, the foundation stone straddled the border between Barcelona and Sant Martí de Provençals, which was annexed just a few years later. Meanwhile, Francisco de Paula del Villar, who was to be replaced by Gaudí the following year, was the lead architect at the project’s inception.
An engraving replicates the scene that took place on March 19th, 1882. Bishop José María Urquinaona is performing the inaugural gesture surrounded by a group of people, among whom the young Gaudí, who had worked in the office of the architect Villar, is likely to be found.
At the turn of the century, residents of the surrounding area scratched their heads at the sight of the lonely facade erected in the middle of crop fields. Yet in this early stage Gaudí was sure that the building, still faintly outlined by unpaved streets, would eventually become the center of the new city.
Sagrada Familia, 1889.
A Groundbreaking Project
Gaudí came to the project when the plan was to construct a neo-Gothic church. Though before venturing in a different direction he made sure to preserve what had been built up to that point. The transformation was gradual, but over time he began to leave his indelible mark.
Seven years later, while Gaudí continued the construction according to the style expected by patrons. Surprisingly, something new was emerging: slender spires, fantastical gargoyles and innovative sculptures of shells and flowers.
Facade of the Birth made by Antoni Gaudí.
Fourteen years later, Gaudí sketched out the plans for the entire building in assembly drawings and began construction of the Nativity Facade. From this moment forward, the public had no doubt that the Sagrada Familia was going to become a temple of great significance.
The Big Picture
Gaudí was often inspired by geometries he observed in nature. According to Gaudí, all visitors would be able to find some evocative element, from mountains to plants to ocean waves or forests, in the temple.
Interior of the Sagrada Familia.
Even though it is still under construction, those who have visited the temple at any phase in its lifetime have been able to admire elements like the first altar dedicated to St. Joseph in the crypt or the sculptures of reptiles representing evil driven away by Mary. These figures already appear in Gaudí's 1890 drawing of the apse.
Past and Future
From the beginning, Gaudí expressed a far-reaching vision of the whole project through plaster models and drawings. In addition to this material, his instructions were collected by his successors in the form of reference texts and made available to generations of architects to come.
Left above: Demonstration of the visuality of the Temple: plan 1. October 1916.
Bottom left: Church of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Detail of the first floor, 1885.
Right: Holy Family, h. 1945. Original drawing by Gaudí, 1903-1926.
Those still working on his project use these sources of information daily to remain in keeping with the pioneering architect. Meanwhile, the first ideas about the Sagrada Familia, which seemed like an unattainable project at the end of the 19th century, are captured in Gaudí's drawings.
ARTIKA and Gaudí up close
- An artist's book that recovers the unpublished material legacy of Antoni Gaudí, until now dispersed throughout different archives.
- Limited edition of 4,998 copies showcasing drawings and projects containing the genius’ first traces of inspiration.
- The culmination of over ten years of research, this work reveals Gaudí as you have never seen him before.