The magic of color in Gaudi´s work.

The magic of color in Gaudi´s work.

17/03/2015

Gaudí has been considered one of the greatest architects of the twentieth century. The light, color and volumetrics are three characteristics that invade his dreamlike work.

In Gaudi´s early work in the late nineteenth century, like El Capricho or Casa Vicens, the interesting chromatic treatment that reached its highest expression in the work of his more mature stage, is seen. A treatment based on the use of different materials and the strategic placement of splashes of color that transform the appearance of some of his buildings greatly. When observing El Capricho and Casa Vicens, the architect combines colorful tiles with brick and stone to compose the appearance of a chessboard. Then it is at its most colorful work, Casa Batllo, where freedom granted by Josep Batllo allowed him to break the boundaries and unleash their creative freedom within him, especially with color.

Thus, contemplating the exceptional chromaticism of the facade of the Casa Batllo, it gives us the feeling that this is not an ordinary building, but rather a construction that is out of a dream. A bright multicolored facade, with a predominance of green and blue inspired by water and which refers to the sea surface, with small foam formations that make their way between the balconies and window frames.

Balconies of Casa Batlló

They are the rays of sunshine for Paseo de Gràcia, those that emphasize the effect of crystal water achieved thanks to the thousands of colors presented in small ceramic discs and the trencadís glass lining the facade. However is this facade, where we can also see a lily pond flower similar to the French painter Claude Monet that has been there since the eighties of the nineteenth century.

A sea where everything flows, which is topped by a striking roof with pieces that seem like fish scales, in this case they are the dragon’s back, ranging from pink and teal ceramics. On the inside of this roof Gaudí decided to place Trencadís warmer colours: white, yellow, orange and red. The closing of the roof, which evokes the backbone of a dragon, presenting a series of green and blue ceramic tiles, joined by other orange and red cylindrical pieces. A varied use of colours that far from being raucous, are very pleasent and demonstrate once again Gaudi´s high knowledge not only of construction techniques and how to use light and colour, but also to transmit powerful messages through color. For example, the successful use of green along the trencadís of the facade and the roof, evokes not only nature but also alludes to the spring, meaning the rebirth of nature after a hard winter. At the same time, it is also a colour that is associated with soothing and encouraging effects and feelings. Undoubtedly, Gaudí hoped that this piece of work would hold it´s name in the world of architecture and would be etched forever and he definately very much succeeded.

Rooftop Casa Batlló

Another of Casa Batllo´s characteristic features is its dynamic facade, a sense of movement that was achieved by the ripple effect that is on its surface. The result is a moving sea whose waters go out and fall back and continue to arouse the curiosity that turns into a unique emotional experience that is second to none. The surprises continue when you discover that the facade doesn´t answer to any prior plan from Gaudí, but the architect was showing his colleagues in the street, where to place each piece of glass reaching to design, paradoxically, a harmonious and balanced composition. It has been related to Monet, as well as the early abstractions of Russian avant-garde Wassily Kandinsky and even improvised dripping of Jackson Pollock.

What awaits us in this peculiar sea? We enter a large aquarium, a place full of surprises, a seabed of light and colour, including unpredicatable chromatic treatment in the courtyards of the house. With the provision of various ceramics pieces that have been smoothed and embossed that are gradually increasing their hue as you ascend from white on the lower floors, to a cobalt blue at the top. The result is a masterful size seabed with a tonal balance. Another prominent use of colour in the interior of this building, is the soft pearl-gray walls that softens the trencadís that travels and spreads to the columns and ceilings of the house. For Gaudí color was not only important in painting, also the proper colour of the materials was wisely exploited by the genius from Reus.

Inner courtyard Casa Batllo

This was not only in his early work and work that he did at the height of his maturity, like Casa Batllo but we can also contemplate the use of colour from Gaudí in unfinished buildings like the Sagrada Familia; where not only the interior stuns the viewer through the atmosphere colour of the stained glass, yet also outisde the magnificent buliding thanks to the colour dots arranged between the stones of its towers. A use of color that although criticized was championed by none other than Salvador Dali, even claiming: “Those who have not heard about the chromatic and shining essence of its colour, the astonishing polyphony of its towers as organ pipes and shocked by its mutant naturalism, are traitors.”