16 May 2010

GAUDI AND CERAMICS: ONE HUNDRED COLOURS OF WHITE

Josep Aragay, water fountain, Barcelona























I took a break in Barcelona after completing my new workshop. The tin-glazed peasant pottery in the gift shops is similar to the 18th and 19th century work in the expensive antique shops, from ancient pottery places like Manises. There is some nice architectural tile work in the azulejo style, like this water fountain in Santa Anna Square, made in 1918 by Josep Aragay (1889–1973).

Antoni Gaudi's exotic buildings in the Modernisme style (Barcelona Art Nouveau, not to be confused with the modernism of Mies van der Rohe) employ smashed tin-glaze tiles and tableware in their mosaics. This is seen to very good effect in Parc Güell (early 20th century) and on the ventilation shafts (picture below) on top of La Pedrera, the fantastical block of flats (1880s) in Passeig Gracia.  The same decorative trick was used by Lluís Domènech i Montaner on the Palau de la Música, built at the same time as Parc Güell.  I don't know who did it first, or whether it was already established before the architects of Modernisme took it up.

Gaudi, ventilation shafts on La Pedrera
Gaudi has large areas of white mosaic made from miscellaneous tin-glazed tiles, which are in one hundred colours of white, from potteries using different recipes over different shades of pink and red clay.

















In a funny back-formation, the tourist shops sell gaudy Gaudi pottery this, with printed surfaces pretending to be mosaics of broken pottery.