A quick visit to any bookshop (if you can find any left) will quickly tell you the world does not need another tome on the work of Spanish Modernist architect Antoni Gaudi. Chances are you’ve visited his Sagrada Familia or the Casa Mila on a school trip or as the cultural conscience salve in-between all night binges in the Gothic quarter. However, Modernista: Gaudi And His Contemporaries by Michael Jones is a worthwhile addition to the creaking shelves.
A collection of photographs that attempts to put the works of Gaudi and his lesser snappily named contemporaries, Josep Puig i Cadafalch and Lluis Domenech i Montaner, in a more contemporary context, it looks at them not as things of great beauty — which they undoubtedly are — but also as functioning buildings for a society that still lives and works in them.
“There’s a whole wealth of stuff that goes on in those buildings that people never get to see so — that, and the effects of the passage of time on them, is what interested me,” says Esquire contributor Jones.
Many of the buildings he has photographed are still being used for their original purpose over a hundred years later – a sign of their solid design, but Jones is unafraid to show the instances where the buildings are not so successful — the underground tunnels of the Hospital De La Santa Creu I Sant Paul where staff work without natural light and banks of ugly air conditioning units cling to the outside.
Because of this, city fathers were initially reluctant to allow Jones access. The project took nine months, two months of which was the actual shooting time and seven cutting through red tape. They relented when he was able to convince them of the purity of his intention.
An accompanying exhibition runs at The National Architecture Centre, Lighthouse Building, Glasgow until Feb 28 and the book will be in selected UK and Spanish shops in the coming months or available direct now from Jones at email@example.com.
Modernista: Gaudi And His Contemporaries in Modern Day Barcelona is on at The National Architecture Centre, Lighthouse Building, Mitchell Lane, Glasgow, G1 3NU www.scottisharchitecture.com