Edited By Flocel Sabaté
Architecture, Power and Identity in Medieval Catalonia: Challenges of Recovering and Re-creating Identity
The signs of national identity in art and architecture have always been the subject of controversy, debate and opposing concepts. Are the works of Joan Miró or Josep Lluís Sert made abroad Catalan art? Is the architecture of Norman Foster, Arata Isozaki or Richard Meier made in Barcelona Catalan art? Are these categories legitimate and fair at a time when many people believe that internationalism prevails over art? How can we define identity in art?
During the 19th century, choosing the architectural style that was the most national, in the sense of the most representative of the country, was a keen concern. From this standpoint, research into the sources pointed clearly towards the Middle Ages. Josep Puig i Cadafalch (1867-1956), who preferred the neo-Gothic over the neo-Romanesque as the national style, confessed that when he was a mere 36 years old he wished “to figure in this progressive work of young architects who dreamt of creating a new art for the nation”. In 1904, he defined it as follows (Figure 1):
Allò que potser hem creat de més positiu entre tots és un art modern que ha pres per base el nostre art tradicional, adornat amb les belleses de materials nous, resolent amb l’esperit nacional del nostre art antic les necessitats actuals, impulsant-lo cap a algunes de les exuberants decoracions meridionals, i, fins i tot, infiltrant-li determinades ornamentacions morisques o algunes vagues visions d’Extrem Orient, i un segell purament local, molt diferent...
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