Barcelona One Of The Historic Centers Of The Modernismo Movement
July 16, 2013
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As one of the historic centers of the “modernismo” movement, the city of Barcelona recently hosted a gathering of art, architectural and design historians for an international conference on art nouveau. The University of Barcelona and the international journal, Coup de Fouet, were the sponsor; I was fortunate to present a paper on Chicago as an Art Nouveau City.
Participants at the conference included many internationally recognized scholars from Paris, Glasgow, Brussels, London, Bucharest, Vienna, Bologna, and of course, many parts of Spain. One of the most intriguing aspects of the conference was the presentation of several papers on eastern European art nouveau work, a clear illustration of just how widespread this “early modern” philosophy was.
Barcelona proved to be full of unexpected late 19th century and early 20th century Catalan painters, designers and sculptors. A visit to the National Museum of Catalan Art revealed gallery after gallery of extraordinary paintings and decorative arts that have rarely been seen, much less recognized, outside of the Catalunya region. Another highlight was a private tour of the exhibition titled Spanish Japonisme at the Caixa Forum, where curator Ricard Bru presented his groundbreaking scholarship on the trade relationship between Japan and Spain as early as the 1600s.
No mention of art nouveau and Barcelona would be complete without acknowledging the work of architect Antoni Gaudi, whose projects dot the city and remind us all that good design never loses its power to create environments that encourage us to live fully and consciously. It was a special pleasure to present my paper in the auditorium of Casa Milà, Gaudi’s innovative apartment building in the heart of the city’s art nouveau quarter.