Fin-de-Siècle Architecture: Modernismo

Fin-de-Siècle Architecture = Seikimatsu Kenchiku by Riichi Miyake with photos by Tahara Keiichi is a beautiful oversize six volume set documenting architectural and ornamental styles from the end of the nineteenth century and beginning decades of the twentieth century. Each volume contains fantastic large color photographs of exteriors and interiors plus architectural sketches and renderings, elevations, details, and city plans.  Volume 2 Modernismo and Architectural Millennium documents buildings from the Catalan Modernismo movement in Barcelona which was synchronous to several design movements in other countries (Art Nouveau, Liberty, and Modern style in England and France, Jugendstyl in Germany, Sezessionstyl in Austria, Floreale and Liberty in Italy, and Modernisme in Spain) that were influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and Gothic revivalism, with the additional influence of the Moorish design prevalent in Spain. These design influences combined with Catalan nationalists’ desire to create a distinct national identity from Spain, bourgeois patronage with ample money and construction industry resources, and available land within the city of Barcelona produced one of the most vibrant and distinctive styles of architecture in history. The architects’ use of curved lines, vegetal and organic motifs, asymmetry, and dynamic shapes embellished with a fantastic combination of decorative ironwork, glazed tile, stone, exposed brick, colored glass, sgrafitto, wood, and marble created a rich mosaic of shifting shapes, textures, and colors unlike any other built environment in the world. You may not be familiar with the term “Modernismo”, but you know the style when you see it. 

Three of the most important architects of the Modernismo style are Lluis Domènech i Montaner, whose work incorporates many Moorish elements (Casa dels Tres Dragons, Hospital de Santa Creu i de Sant Pau, Palau de la Música Catalana), Joseph Puig i Cadafalch, whose buildings are heavily influenced by medieval style (els Quatre Gats, Casa Marti, Casa Terrades), and Antoni Gaudi, whose works incorporate fantastic organic forms inspired by nature (Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, La Sagrada Familia). Also of note are Joseph Maria Jujol, who collaborated with Gaudi on several of his most famous buildings, and Enrique Nieto, whose work as the city architect of Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North America, created the only large concentration of Modernismo style structures outside of Spain.

The six volumes of Fin-de-Siècle Architecture = Seikimatsu Kenchiku (V.1 Art Nouveau and Japonisme, V.2 Modernismo and Architectural Millennium, V.3 Stile Liberty and Orientalism, V.4 The Influence of Secessions, V.5 Arts and Crafts and the Garden City, and V.6 The Rise of National Romanticism) are available for use in the Architecture and Planning Library. Volume 2 contains images of the Palau de la Mùsica Catalan, which inspired the Charles Moore columns at the entrance to the Architecture and Planning Library.