Visitors to Barcelona will all sooner or later find themselves in Antoni Gaudí’s fairytale Park Güell, admiring the view of the city from one of the sinuous benches made up of fragments of coloured tiles. For many, the benches of Park Güell are the essence of Gaudí, but they are in fact the work of another artist and architect, Josep Maria Jujol.
“When tourists go to Parc Güell, what do they look at? They look at Jujol’s work,” says the architect’s son, also Josep Maria. “I mean, what they most rave about in Gaudí’s work is Jujol’s contribution.”
Gaudí’s Catalan shadow: the art of Josep Maria Jujol
In his lifetime and since, both Jujol’s contribution to Gaudí’s work and the buildings he created himself, have often been overlooked. Now a new documentary, Jujol-Gaudí: Two Geniuses of Architecture (see the trailer at jujol-gaudi.com, UK release date tbc) by the writer and filmmaker Luis Campo Vidal seeks to get Jujol the recognition he deserves.
“Jujol designed and built some of the most admired elements of Gaudí’s work,” says Campo Vidal. “He lived in his shadow but he was an architectural genius whom we can now discover.”
Jujol was 27 years younger than Gaudí and they met when the former was working on the Ateneu cultural centre in Barcelona. Gaudí invited Jujol to work with him on an apartment building commissioned by one of his wealthy clients, explaining that he planned to create a fabulous facade the like of which had never been seen.
The result was the multicoloured, reptilian sheen of the facade of Casa Batlló in the Passeig de Gràcia, one of Gaudí’s most-loved and most-visited creations. But the facade is almost entirely the work of Jujol.
“Jujol brought colour and life to Gaudí’s work,” says the Japanese architect Yuji Morieda, author of a book on Catalan modernism. Aside from Park Güell and Casa Batlló, Jujol was also responsible for the wrought-iron balconies on Gaudí’s Casa Milà (La Pedrera), the altar at Colonia Güell and the emblem on the Torre Bellesguard in Barcelona.
However, Jujol also worked on his own behalf and some of his finest work is a 15-minute train ride south of Barcelona in the small town of Sant Joan Despí (trains leave Plaça de Catalunya every 10 minutes), where he designed the Torre de la Creu, Can Negre and Can Camprubí mansions. Guided visits to the Torre de la Creu and Can Negre are held on the last Sunday of the month (to arrange a visit call +34 933 737 363).
He also designed the marvellous Casa Bofarull in Els Pallaresos in rural Tarragona (Jujol and Gaudí were both from Tarragona) and the Teatro Metropol, a modernist masterpiece in Tarragona city, the Roman capital of Spain. The theatre is open to the public but visitors should call first (+34 977 229 930).
Actor John Malkovich has been a fan of Jujol ever since he stumbled on his Casa Planells in Barcelona (Avinguda Diagonal, 332). “I was rooted to the spot in front of the house without knowing why. Passersby asked me if I was feeling all right. ‘I guess so,’ I said.”
Malkovich comments in the film that Jujol “always creates new things through the simplest materials. It’s not work for the rich, commissioned by and for the rich, and for that reason it is more intense.”
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