ART NOVEAU (Modernisme)
Art Noveau as an art style was mainly displayed in architecture and the visual arts at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. A particular ideology accompanied this artistic movement, rooted in a complex historical pathways and traditions, strongly influenced by the romantic tradition where ancient cultures, idealism and exoticism played together the new cards of art.
The manifestation of Art Noveau in Barcelona contributed to a unique period of time in the history of the city where the artistic effervescence went parallel to the economic expansion and the demolition of the medieval walls. The new bourgeoisie needed to align itself with the modern Europe by means of exposing their wealth and power throughout the expression of art. The organisation of two Universal Exhibitions (1888 and 1929) was not isolated from the need to showcase in several representations, basically in the fields of architecture and fine arts, the emergence of a new artistic movement which was definitely simultaneous to the development of a new societal distribution of power.
Art Noveau artists usually specialised in one artistic field but were, if not masters, able to perform in different artistic disciplines. To well-known architects such as Domènech i Montaner or Gaudí, painters like Casas, Opisso or Nonell, sculptors such as Llimona or Clarassó and writers such as Rusiñol, the importance of quality craftmanship became essential to adequately achieve the high standards required.
Nowadays, the Art Noveau masterpieces are scattered around the city; some of them, especially those made by Gaudí, are essential visits for tourists. Some others are highly unknown, even for the locals. The area known as the ‘Quadrat d’Or’ (Golden Square) contains the greatest number of modernist buildings such as Casa Batlló or Casa Amatller. In the old town, the Palau de la Musica (Music Palace) is probably one of the best auditoriums that represents better the magnificence of Art Noveau. The ‘Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau’ in the Northern part of the city is one of the masterpieces of Art Noveau in Barcelona which have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Barcelona is one of the European cities where Art Noveau probably has the greatest presence in the identity and narrative of the city.