Thursday, March 4, 2010

Barcelona Architecture

Just returned from a short trip/long weekend/second honeymoon with Trish to Barcelona. An amazing city, a wonderful city, never such a city will I meet! We saw many of the sights, traveling easy by Metro, and generally getting ourselves lost and then blundering into a square or piazza (I know, Italian) that we could find on the map. We did much less sitting and watching the world go by then we have in other European cities - too much to see.

As to how this trip will permeate itself back into my clay world, I was struck by the integration of contemporary architecture into the modernist and classical buildings that made up the city. And I was reminded how free from convention contemporary architecture can be. I have been searching for a way to break the raku work away from the wood-fire work and this attitude of invention in the middle of the classical and traditional seemed just right.

Antoni Gaudi was much more than I thought. I loved La Sagrada Familia with its integration of the organic and the mathematical. When I was inside the cathedral, it was strange to feel small in a different way then most other of "God's Houses." Most cathedrals have you focus on the heavens with its soaring ceilings and tall pointy spires. Gaudi takes a different approach - there is still the incredible height but when looking up, with columns branching into trees and a ceiling matrix that transforms into sunflowers, you realize you underneath a biological canopy, shrinking you down to ant size. Humbleness set in the context of the natural world, but still of God's doing. Pretty incredible...

In addition to modernist architecture, the city is filled with incredible contemporary buildings as well. It reminded me of the MoMA exhibition On-Site: New Architecture in Spain of a few years ago. If you have the chance to go through the multi-media on the page, you will see a clip of the Santa Caterina Market, which Trish and I wandered through. If we had rented a little apartment instead of a hotel room, we probably would have been there daily to pick up our produce and meat.

I started on a series of "soft architecture" or "little buildings" that I intend to raku fire . I will pull up some images and perhaps do a "Kristen Kieffer" influence page soon...


  1. hi john, i'm so envious of going to barcelona. my mom went and had tons of pics but i never have made it. that last pic is unreal, not sure if it's in barcelona or just a piece that's inspired you but it's beautiful

  2. Jim - the "Golden Fish" was created by Frank Gehry for the Barcelona olympics. It was awesome and right outside of our hotel. I actually liked it from this point of view, underneath (shot from our hotel courtyard) rather than the more conventional view from the beach or boardwalk.