Architectural style and politics during the catalan fi de segle
Document typeConference report
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The purpose of this paper is to analyze the stylistic responses of Catalan fin-de-siècle architecture as an effort to strengthen national identity. This research will focus on the Catalan scenario as a case study for the general perceived condition of international efforts to create national modern styles that represents the local character in a word that suffers the effects of changes in the late modern age. Some examples include: the annex of Scotland to the UK in the 1700’s, the Belgian division between Walloons and Flemings, the newly unified Italy and Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire in process of division, and Turkey's modernization process. The names associated with these movements and the criticism they prompted reflects a need to establish a new style, partly based on hybrid mythologies between the popular tradition and romantic creations, on a Wagnerian way. This condition can be seen throughout Belgium and Turkey’s Art Nouveau, Germany’s Jungendstill, the Austro-Hungary Sezession, Italy’s Liberty, Scotland’s Modern Style or Catalonia’s Modernisme. The investigation’s approach will implement the study of relationships between relevant Catalan architects of the Fi-de-Segle - Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, among others - with the Catalan cultural project. The Catalan expression Fi-de-Segle is adopted here to refer the specific situation in Catalonia, in contrast to the european ambience that the term Fin-de-Siècle represent. The scope of the study will focus on the Ateneo Barcelonés. While not directly related to any official institution of conservative catalanism, like the Catalan League, the Ateneo is a representative sample of the thoughts of Barcelona architects during the period, several of then directly or indirectly linked to the Catalan ideals. Part of the research methodology for this study will focus on conducting a thorough review of the Ateneo’s records on open sessions of academic courses imparted in the years between 1860 and 1914, all the while looking for clear allusions to the use of architecture and style as a instrument for building Catalan national identity. The founding of the Ateneo in 1860, though it was first named Ateneo Catalan, coincides with several of the discussions that formed the basis of conservative catalanist ideology during the fi-de-segle. More so, the year 1914 coincides with the end of the presidency of the architect Domènech i Montaner in the Ateneo, the Great World War in Europe, and the emergence of a more left-wing political orientation in Catalonia, that ended with the hegemony of conservative catalanism. Within these records is contained a detailed review of the activities of the institution in the previous academic year - relating to architecture or fine arts - and official documents, such as the speeches given by the presidents elected each year, which serves as an thermometer for reading a general ideology of the Ateneo. Also, program records are available that describe courses, contests and awards granted there. Many works and projects show a distinct relationship with the disciplines of architecture and applied arts, and it is this investigation’s purpose to study these relations and better comprehend how architecture helped shape the Catalan national identity project.
CitationRamon, A.; Cardoso, D. Architectural style and politics during the catalan fi de segle. A: Archist '14 / History of Architecture Conference. "Movements & Outsiders in the history of Architecture". Istambul: DAKAM, 2014, p. 23-34.
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