Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
For the first time in its 130-year-old history, the first house designed by Antoni Gaudí will soon be open to the public. Casa Vicens, built between 1883 and 1885 in the Barcelona neighborhood of Gràcia, will open in October as a museum following a major two-year restoration led by a trio of Spanish architects. With an interior as decorated as its dizzying facade, it’s one more stunning stop for visitors to check out on the city’s so-called Gaudí Route, which comprises a dozen other publicly accessible buildings by the Catalan architect, from the dragon-like Casa Batlló to the towering La Sagrada Familia.
Commissioned by tile manufacturer Manuel Vicens i Montaner as a summer home, Casa Vicens remained a private residence until 2014, changing ownership only twice in its history. The Jover family, who purchased it in 1899, decided to sell it in 2007, and the family bank, MoraBanc, purchased it seven years later with the intention of opening it up for public visits. Restorations led by architects José Antonio Martínez Lapeña, Elías Torres, and David Garcí began in 2015 to transform the four-story building into a cultural center that both showcases Gaudí’s original designs and hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Casa Vicens represents one of Gaudí’s earlier works, designed by the architect when he was only 31, and when he was heavily influenced by oriental arts. An early masterpiece of Art Nouveau, it stands out from many of his more famous buildings, which feature mind-melting curves, for its linear structure and Moorish elements — from its many interior and exterior arches to its incorporation of vegetative designs and decorative tiles. Gaudí found inspiration while at the Barcelona School of Architecture, where he had a chance to study photographs and prints that documented examples of architecture in Egypt, Morocco, India, and the Iberian Peninsula.
The house has undergone a number of transformations over the years, most significantly in 1925 when the Jovers enlisted an architect to nearly double it in size. Now listed as a UNESCO World Human Heritage Site and an Asset of National Cultural Interest, though, Casa Vicens may only receive certain structural edits. For this two-year project, none of the spaces originally designed by Gaudí were modified, but those constructed in the 1925 enlargement were altered to better accommodate crowds and serve new functions in the forthcoming cultural center.
In addition to transforming certain sections into exhibition spaces, a bookstore, and a gift shop, as well as the garden into an outdoor cafe, the restoration team also worked on beautifying the building’s decorative elements. Gaudí covered Casa Vicens’ facade with cheery, ceramic tiles decorated with marigold and dianthus motifs, and many had to be replaced through a detailed process to replicate the careful casting technique of the original manufacturer. The building also houses a variety of lamps, some of which are attributed to the architect’s contemporaries, and many of these, too, required restoration. The dining room itself presented a massive undertaking: it features 34 paintings Montaner had commissioned Barcelona artist Francesc Torrescassana i Sallarés to create, and these were carefully revived to their original colors by a team of painters. Gaudí, however, maintained control over most of Casa Vicens’ appearance; the jewel-like structure we observe today, sandwiched between two modern, monochrome buildings, emerges from his idiosyncratic vision.
“In Casa Vicens, Gaudí recreated the figurative worlds that were fashionable at the time, but in a highly personal way,” the project’s organizers said in a statement. “The house is built following Catalan construction traditions, which the architect interpreted in unexpected ways, while he also incorporated decorative and symbolic elements, also in his highly personal way. As a whole, it heralds and displays the creative freedom that would become the hallmark of his entire future oeuvre.”
To showcase this work exactly 500 years after Magellan’s conquest of the Philippines in a space that, 134 years ago, was a “human zoo” of Indigenous people from the Philippines, is certainly poignant.
Since 2014, Alison has been visually dissecting Monique Wittig’s novel The Lesbian Body, which theorizes the split subjectivity women experience in language, an inherently patriarchal structure.
This exhibition in Great Falls, Montana addresses the concept of intention in contemporary fiber art and its complex relationship with the history of women’s art as craft.
N.I.H., short for No Humans Involved, was an acronym used by the LAPD to refer to “young Black males who belong to the jobless category of the inner-city ghettos.”
Cha, who was murdered at 31 years old, explored the nuances of forced migration and language.
Explore new avenues in artistic practice and scholarship amongst a diverse cohort of peers while gaining leadership skills both academically and professionally.
Taping a banana wasn’t enough, so the art world had to do something even more stupid with food.
Stoner jokes, unexpected pop culture references, and an unlikely love story jangle against each other like charms on a bracelet.
In this exhibition, curated by Patrick Flores and presented by Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Paiwan artist Sakuliu reflects on interspecies co-sharing and coexistence.
The plans for Munger Hall may just be the most ruthlessly efficient way to house 4500 students.
The Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation says tribal leaders were not consulted regarding the relocation of the statue.
The autumn holiday of Sukkot continues to offer solace and community for new generations.