Antoni Gaudi: A Multi-Faceted View - The Work of Gaudi in Contemporary Catalan Photography

Visions Within Visions: Catalan Photographers Explore Gaudí Architecture

In celebration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the birth of the visionary Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926), the Art Gallery of The Graduate Center, CUNY, will present Antoni Gaudí: A Multi-faceted View, The Work of Gaudí in Contemporary Catalan Photography. The exhibition will run from December 12 to February 7, 2003. Located on the first floor of The Graduate Center at 365 Fifth Avenue, the gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 12 to 6 p.m.

Also, a panel discussion on Gaudí's little-known design for a skyscraper hotel on what would become the World Trade Center site was presented in conjunction with the exhibition in January.

Organized by the Catalan Consortium for the External Promotion of Culture (COPEC) in collaboration with the Instituto Cervantes of New York, Antoni Gaudí: A Multi-faceted View offers fifty-two images by seven prominent photographers chosen for their long dedication to Gaudi's work. Interpretative rather than documentary, the photographs reveal the astonishing liberty and range of Gaudí's creativity, manifested in the formal exuberance of the colossal Church of Sagrada Familia, Casa Mil‡, Parc GŸell and many other celebrated buildings in Barcelona. The exhibition with be accompanied by an illustrated catalog and a continuously running twenty-five minute video will examine Gaudí's historic contributions and document his work.

The featured photographers include Manel Armengol, Toni Catany, Manel Esclusa, Marc Llimargas, Leopold PomŽs, Humberto Rivas, and Rafael Vargas. (bios attached)

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet was born on June 25, 1852, in Reus, Catalonia. His career was launched in Barcelona in the latter quarter of the 19th century, during the city's Renaixença, a time of economic prosperity and urban expansion supported by a middle class which wanted to be in tune with the new European styles. Gaudí was influenced by a generation that developed Catalan modernista, a movement corresponding to Art Nouveau which formed around the 1888 Barcelona World Fair. Soon, however, he went beyond stylistic classification to develop a unique aesthetic that defied either classification or imitation. Gaudí was a pioneer in his conception of architecture as a dynamic space joining the internal and external world and as a living organism growing out of the natural environment, as well as in his inspired use of materials, colors, and textures.

Gaudí's approach was, in fact, so individualistic that many question whether ongoing work should be continued on his unfinished Sagrada Familia, given the impossibility of realizing the ever transforming image of a man no longer alive --- he was killed by a trolley in 1926 before the structure was completed. On the other hand, the work has become a landmark symbol of Barcelona in the same way as say, the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Statue of Liberty in New York. Other, completed, Gaudí structures abound in Barcelona and their fantastic sculpted shapes are integral elements in the city's fascinating architectural landscape.

In turn, the photographers represented in Antoni Gaudí: A Multi-faceted View have viewed Gaudí's buildings through their own individual creative perspective, as influenced by their knowledge of Gaudí's work and their Catalan heritage.

The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of The City University of New York. According to the most recent National Research Council report, more than a third of The Graduate Center's rated Ph.D. programs rank among the nation's top 20 at public and private institutions.

Bios of Featured Photographers

Manel Armengol, Badalona (Barcelona), 1949

He worked as a journalist for various local and national media until 1976, when he started working as a graphic reporter, producing photojournalism for national and international publications. His pictures of the repression by police of a peaceful demonstration, taken during the period of the post-Franco transition, traveled the world and earned him the Flash-Foto magazine prize. After the 1980s, due to a serious accident, Armengol gave up photojournalism and began a new phase with night-time images of the chimneys of Gaudí's Casa Milˆ. These photographs were published in the book El jardín de los guerreros (Lunwerg Editores, 1987), and the experience turned him to architectural photography. He has worked for publishers in Spain, Japan, Germany, the United States, etc. and has had numerous solo as well as group exhibitions.

Toni Catany, Llucmajor (Majorca), 1942

He settled in Barcelona in 1960 and in 1970 exhibited for the first time, at the Sala Aixelˆ. In 1976 he started his series of calotypes and extended his creative work with still lifes, first in black and white and, after 1982, exclusively in color. In 1987, his first book, Natures mortes, made his extensive photographic work known to a wider public. Another book, Meva Mediterrˆnia, published in 1990, received the Prix du Livre Photo in Arles in 1991 and the Catalan Government's prize for the best illustrated book of the year. In 1997, Catany's book Fotografies, with portraits, landscapes, and nudes taken with Polaroid transfers, won the European Publishers' Prize. In December 2001 he received the National Photography Award from the Spanish government's Ministry of Education and Culture.

Manel Esclusa, Vic (Barcelona), 1952

His father, a professional photographer, introduced him to photography when he was eight years old. He had his first exhibition in 1973 at the Sala Aixelˆ in Barcelona and since 1975 he has devoted himself to teaching photography. Esclusa exhibits regularly in galleries and museums around the world. His book Barcelona Ciutat Imaginada received the 1988 Prix du Livre Photo in Arles and the Premi Laus-ADG FAD for photography in 1988 in Barcelona. In 1992, Ediciones Tristan produced an edition of 25 copies of the object/book Flors de Claus: Joan Brossa-Manel Esclusa. In 1994, the Centro de Arte Palacio Almudi in Murcia published his book Aquariana. His latest work, Scantan, has been exhibited at the Galeria Carles TachŽ in Barcelona and at the Musée de l'Histoire de la Médecine in Toulouse.

Marc Llimargas, Barcelona, 1947

An art photographer and publisher, he has illustrated and produced numerous art books, and he has published several books jointly with such publishers as Abrams of New York, Flamarion of Paris, Jaca Books of Milan, Seuil of Paris, and Thames & Hudson of London. He is a founding member of the multimedia publishers of art books, La Mirada Sonora. Specifically on Gaudí, he has illustrated Gaudí: l'home i l'obra for Lunwerg Editores in 1999 and La Pedrera for the Fundaci— Caixa de Catalunya, also in 1999. His work was recently shown at the Milan Triennial in the exhibition Gaudí: l'home i l'obra, produced by the Reial Cˆtedra Gaudí in Barcelona.

Leopold PomŽs, Barcelona, 1931

He began taking photographs in 1954, and one year later he presented his personal work in an exhibition at the Galerias Laietanas. This was one of the first exhibitions of photography to be held in Barcelona and was well received by critics. In 1960 he opened the Estudio PomŽs, specialising in advertising photography and film. Among his best-known professional activities are the planning and production of the World Football Ceremony in 1982 and the communication strategy for Barcelona's application for the Olympic Games, as well as Christmas publicity spots for Freixenet. He has published several books; in 1997, his retrospective exhibition Leopoldo PomŽs. Imatges 1955-1997 was held at the Palau de la Virreina in Barcelona and in March and April 2001 the exhibition Leopoldo PomŽs: 95 fotos y 6 zapatos was presented at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid.

Humberto Rivas, Buenos Aires, 1937

Though he has studied drawing and painting, Rivas has devoted himself entirely to professional photography since 1957. Since 1976 he has lived in Barcelona, where he works as a photographer, doing personal and commercial work and also teaching photography. In 1988, the Centro Cultural Ciudad de Buenos Aires put on his first comprehensive exhibition. His work is included in a number of significant museum collections, he has exhibited in several countries, and in 1996 IVAM organized a large retrospective of his work. In 1997, he received the Premi d'Arts Plˆstiques Ciutat de Barcelona and the following year the Premi Nacional de Fotografia.

Rafael Vargas, Barcelona, 1959

His work is focused primarily on portraiture, architecture, and publicity. His photographs of architecture and interior decoration have been published in leading magazines, he frequently collaborates with many important architectural studios, and he has photographed all of Antoni Gaudí's buildings for the Espai Gaudí in La Pedrera in Barcelona. He exhibited his own work for the first time at the Sala Montcada in Barcelona in 1987, and subsequently in different galleries and museums all over the world, and his photographs are in several public and private collections. His work has also been published in leading photography and art magazines. His personal work earned him the Kodak Grand Prix for European Photography in 1989 and his commercial work the Laus de Oro in 1993 and 1995.

Panel Discussion Explores Gaudí Plans for Skyscraper on World Trade Center Site

Thursday, January 23, 6 pm.
The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue/34th Street

In 1908, the visionary Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí sketched preliminary plans for a skyscraper hotel to be built on what eventually became the World Trade Center site. A panel discussion of this fascinating, never-realized proposal will be held in conjunction with the Art Gallery of the Graduate Center's current exhibition Antoni Gaudí: A Multi-Facted View. The program will feature Joan Bassegoda i Nonell, Curator of the Real Catedra Gaudí at the Polytecnic University of Catalonia, and Marc Mascort i Boix, author of a recent study on this little-known project. The program and exhibition both are presented in collaboration with the Instituto Cervantes and The Catalan Consortium for the External Promotion of Culture.

Among other features, the plans called for parabolic towers, reminiscent of Gaudí's famed Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, around a central structure soaring more than 1,000 feet high, with a 375 foot interior exhibition space and a series of dining spaces large enough to accommodate the accompanying strains of a symphony orchestra. It would have been the tallest building the world at the time, and just a few hundred feet shorter than the World Trade Center. (Some, in fact, are proposing that the structure be built on the site now.)

Images on this page are modern interpretations of Gaudí's concept for the project, courtesy of

Submitted on: DEC 12, 2002

Category: James Gallery