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Mathematical roots of a genius

· A conversation with the curator of the exhibition ·

“The talent of a genius, the faith and the tenacity of a people and the admiration of millions of people have transformed a visionary project conceived in the 19 th century and considered then a utopia in reality,” reads the brochure of presentation of the exhibit, “Gaudi and the Sagrada Familia of Barcelona. Art, Science and Spirituality.” We asked the curator, architect Daniel Giralt-Miracle, to speak to us about the expiatory temple of Barcelona, born – like the Sacre Coeur in Paris – to, “make pure water out of dirty water, young water with old water…clear souls with turbid souls.” (Charles Péguy).

When did you meet Gaudì?

My life has been deeply influenced by him. My school was near the Parco Guell, a place where we used to play as children. My father’s study was close to the Casa Vicens; my doctor was close to the Pedrera and my mother’s doctor was not far from Batllò. It was natural during university years to study his work from an artistic and technical point of view. The Catalan artist is not only a “bizarre spirit” with extravagant style, as the exhibit shows. The beauty of his work has precise mathematical foundations.

The esthetic factor of Gaudì’s work is what strikes one at first, but to understand his art more deeply, one needs to discover its roots. In so doing, one sees that his work is not in fact ingenuous.

He applied mathematics, calculus and geometry to his architecture, which can be seen in the parabolic arches, the geometric figures with double curves. One should not forget that all of the exuberance of architectural forms have a rational foundation and scientific base.

How is the work on the basilica progressing?

In the last few years, scientific research has given us better knowledge of the definition of the project which has accelerated the work. All of this was made possible by the support of the growing number of pilgrims who visit every year. Since the Pope’s dedication of the basilica on November 7, 2010, we have registered an increase in visitors.

This positive data allows us to hypothesize that the work could be finished by the year 2026 (100 th anniversary of the death of Gaudì) or 2030.

At what stage is the dispute over allowing a high-speed train to pass under the basilica?

The work is considered necessary in order to facilitate the connection between Spain and the rest of Europe, however they did not take into consideration the Church’s position or public opinion. Nonetheless, they have guaranteed that all security measures will be taken during the project.

What itinerary would you suggest to someone who wants to view Gaudì’s work?

I would advise them to begin with a visit to his civil architecture, continuing then to the Parco Guell where there is a real dialogue between nature and architecture. Finally, I would visit the Sagrada Familia which is the synthesis of the artistic and technical language of his work.

Which is the work which you love the most?

The crypt of the Colonia Guell which is in a little village twenty kilometres from Barcelona: Santa Coloma de Cervellò. I think that this crypt is potentially the forerunner of the constructive system of the Sagrada Familia. And in itself, it contains the sense of the art of Gaudì, even though it is still in a primitive artistic language.

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