Damla, Dali, Gaudi, Penn, Picasso and La Sagrada Familia

Damla sent me one of her SPAM round robin e-mails today which contained a Powerpoint presentation of the buildings of Antoni Gaudí. For those unfamiliar with the Catalan architect’s works there’s a pretty comprehensive entry about him at Wikipedia. Here’s some of what is written:

“During his youth, Gaudí suffered many times from the rheumatic fevers that were common at the time. This illness caused him to spend much time in isolation, and it also allowed him to spend lots of time alone with nature. It was this exposure to nature at an early age which is thought to have inspired him to incorporate natural shapes and themes into his later work.

“He designed La Sagrada Familía to have 18 towers, 12 for the 12 apostles, 4 for the 4 evangelists, one for Mary and one for Jesus. Completion of the Sagrada Familía is planned for 2026”

In 1948 it came to light that Gaudi’s work had some influence upon the young Picasso and the editors of Vogue decided to commission a piece about this and dispatched the photographer Irving Penn to Barcelona make some images to illustrate it. Shortly before leaving New York he mentioned the commission to Salvador Dali and a few days later was suprised to discover that Dali had also travelled to Barcelona where he hired a funeral cortege so that Penn could photograph it in front of La Sagrada Familía.

I had meant to relate this story to Damla in a private e-mail, but unfortunately was unable to find Penn’s photograph anywhere on the web to illustrate it. I’ve therefore posted it here as it is an image uncharacteristic of Penn’s usual simple style and perhaps owes something to Dali?

The original image may well have been hand tinted from a monochrome original? The colours seem muted for the Kodachromes of the day. In the original they are quite beautiful and subtle, indeed the web doesn’t do them justice.

The wires and cables form an essential part of Penn’s composition, and whilst relatively easy to remove in Adobe Photoshop, thus revealing the kind of setting Gaudi may have preferred for his masterpiece, the image itself would lack something from their omission.

The exposure was surely several seconds for not only are the horses feet blurred to ghostly apparitions, even the uniformed members of the cortège itself have moved a little during the exposure.

Damla thinks of Gaudi as a postmodernist, or perhaps a futurist? I am unsure of this. His designs perhaps might have been one of the ways medieval architecture could have developed? Certainly he is inspired by nature, the latice work in the towers of La Sagrada Familía from a distance are reminiscent of the termite mounds beloved by complexity theorists.

Funeral Cortège in front of La Sagrada Familía

P.S. Sabahat plans to visit Spain later this summer.

P.P.S. Damla is taking Spanish lessons, Por qué?

P.P.P.S. The previous (P.P.S), was deleted at the request of Irem, who thinks Damla will remove her name from her little black book for telling me of the ‘secret’ Spanish course 😉

Kindly Note: The image above is used for discussion purposes only in the context educational interest and the fulfilment of art appreciation and is the property of the original copyright holder Condé Naste Publications Inc. It is published here as Fair Use. Images on the Internet and elsewhere may be subject to copyright.

4 Responses to “Damla, Dali, Gaudi, Penn, Picasso and La Sagrada Familia”

  1. damla parkan Says:

    This was a great commentary on Gaudi. Thank you.
    I don’t think Irem could possibly hold anything a secret from you.. I am taking Spanish Lessons to be able to communicate with Sabahat in Spanish who will be fluent by the time she gets back from Spain.

  2. Stephen Bray Says:

    You could start a new trend . . . perhaps
    take over the tapas bar in Turunç :-)

  3. Reece Khan Says:

    I use both Picassa and Flickr for sharing photos over the internet but i use Flickr more often than Picassa.,;,

  4. Kanisha Smits Says:

    Thank you so much, this was a good read. I was actually born in Madrid ( not telling what year though!) but moved around various parts of europe and finally settled in England when I was 5. I dont remember much of the few years I was in spain, but the delicious smell of spanish food always seems to get me going or something. It’s weird how I dont remember anything except the smells,isn’t it! I actually found a internet site dedicated to spanish recipes, which gave me great delight and thought I ought to share with your readers. Anyway, thank you again. I’ll get my husband to add your website to my rss app…

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