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Architectural Art & Cadaqués

Cadaqués & Barcelona shaped by modernism

Art Nouveau - The buildings of this design movement always attract attention. Decorated with organic details, such as flowers, small birds and mosaics, the architects of this epoch were able to combine very different scenes in one building. Many examples of the style are still standing splendid today with all their elaborate details. Few places have more Art Noveau-style buildings than Barcelona, where every day they impress locals and visitors alike with coloured window glasses and ceramic elements. They are part of European art and architecture history.

Modernism (Art Nouveau) is a cultural-social renewal movement in the Catalan-speaking world, which found its expression in art, architecture, literature and music. The architectural style, which was internationally-recognised, developed from about 1885 to 1920 in Catalonia, mainly in Barcelona, and had, as its main representative, the eccentric genius Antoni Gaudí. Modernism was part of the Art Nouveau movement that encompassed all of Europe.


Origin of modernism

This movement aroused the neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque aesthetics of the nineteenth century and ended when there was a marked shift towards architectural rationalism in the 1920s and 1930s. Architecturally, this movement may have developed into the most advanced form of Art Nouveau.
  
  
Modernism in the European context
  
Towards the end of the 19th century, there was an increasing tendency in Europe to break with the traditional features of architecture and to look for suitable designs for the 20th century. This urge was fundamentally a reaction to the industrial age which had brought the steam engine, railway and electricity and had fundamentally changed the life of the population and led to the growth of cities where industries settled and, paradoxically, an urban bourgeois flourished. Modernism (and Art Nouveau in general) is therefore an urban and bourgeois style. In painting, influences from Impressionism and Symbolism were the main characteristics of a movement that had no stylistic roots, but as a common trait: the will to be modern.

From 1906, Modernism was replaced by the Catalan form of neoclassicism or rationalism, the Neocentrism. Their representatives accused modernism of being an anarchic and decadent art form. In contrast to the "romantic chaos" of modernism, they advocated the order, the clarity, the harmony, the measure and the rationality of architecture.

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Traditional materials and techniques in architecture

Modernism rejected the unattractive industrial architecture of the first half of the 19th century and developed new architectural concepts based on "naturalness" and "movement”. This is particularly evident in the building materials and techniques adapted from Catalan traditions which are found in the forms of buildings and in the design of facades.

A special feature is the so-called "Catalan vault" in ceiling constructions or staircases. The bricks are laid on their broad side in a bow with quick-drying plaster. Subsequently, one or more further layers of mortar are applied to this sufficiently strong sheet. The facades of the buildings are often adorned with decorative elements such as birds, butterflies, leaves and flowers of stone or ceramics - often composed of fragments using the Truncates mosaic technique. The window and balcony grilles are often made of wrought iron and display predominantly with nature-inspired motifs.

 

Modernism in Cadaqués

The Modernism movement also found favor in Cadaqués. The village was then, as today, a popular tourist location for the wealthy Barcelonese. Many of these summer residents harboured ambitions to create their own works of Modernism in Cadaqués.

One of the most famous Modernist buildings in Cadaqués is the Casa Serinyana, also called Casa Blaua or Casa Azul. This imposing building was commissioned by a successful trading family, the Serinyanas. The architect Salvador Selles i Baró dedicated himself entirely to modernism in this building, which is clearly recognizable by the many details and the elaborate construction. Soon we will publish an article dedicated to this grand dame of architectural art in Cadaqués at our website.

Another building of modernism in Cadaqués, which is in very good condition, is the 3-storey village house right on the Plaza of Cadaqués. The house with its dark green shutters, which was built nearly one hundred years ago, has always been family-owned and has been looking for a new owner for some time who wants to dedicate himself to the responsible task of maintaining this historic heritage of Cadaqués.

In addition to these impressive buildings, there are more Modernista houses in Cadaqués, mostly recognizable by their particular style of construction. Watch out for these magnificent buildings while strolling through Cadaqués and you will certainly discover them.

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