Modernisme

Modernisme (Catalan pronunciation: [muðərˈnizmə], Catalan for "modernism"), also known as Catalan modernism, is the historiographic denomination given to an art and literature movement associated with the search of a new entitlement of Catalan culture, one of the most predominant cultures within Spain. Nowadays it is considered a movement based on the cultural reivindication of a catalan identity. Its main form of expression was in architecture, but many other arts were involved (painting, sculpture, etc.), and especially the design and the decorative arts (cabinetmaking, carpentry, forged iron, ceramic tiles, ceramics, glass-making, silver and goldsmith work, etc.), which were particularly important, especially in their role as support to architecture. Modernisme was also a literary movement (poetry, fiction, drama).

Although Modernisme was part of a general trend that emerged in Europe around the turn of the 20th century, in Catalonia the trend acquired its own unique personality. Modernisme's distinct name comes from its special relationship, primarily with Catalonia and Barcelona, which were intensifying their local characteristics for socio-ideological reasons after the revival of Catalan culture and in the context of spectacular urban and industrial development. It is equivalent to a number of other fin de siècle art movements going by the names of Art Nouveau in France and Belgium, Jugendstil in Germany, Sezession in Austria-Hungary, Liberty style in Italy and Modern or Glasgow Style in Scotland.

Modernisme was active from roughly 1888 (the First Barcelona World Fair) to 1911 (the death of Joan Maragall, the most important Modernista poet). The Modernisme movement was centred in the city of Barcelona, though it reached far beyond, and is best known for its architectural expression, especially in the work of Antoni Gaudí, but was also significant in sculpture, poetry, theatre and painting. Notable painters include Santiago Rusiñol, Ramon Casas,[1] Isidre Nonell, Hermen Anglada Camarasa, Joaquim Mir, Eliseu Meifrèn, Lluïsa Vidal and Miquel Utrillo. Notable sculptors are Josep Llimona, Eusebi Arnau and Miquel Blai.

Main concepts

Duana de Barcelona (Customs House), by Enric Sagnier

Catalan nationalism was an important influence upon Modernista artists, who were receptive to the ideas of Valentí Almirall and Enric Prat de la Riba and wanted Catalan culture to be regarded as equal to that of other European countries. Such ideas can be seen in some of Rusiñol's plays against the Spanish army (most notably L'Hèroe), in some authors close to anarchism ( Jaume Brossa and Gabriel Alomar, for example) or in the articles of federalist anti-monarchic writers such as Miquel dels Sants Oliver. They also opposed the traditionalism and religiousness of the Renaixença Catalan Romantics, whom they ridiculed in plays such as Santiago Rusiñol's Els Jocs Florals de Canprosa (roughly, "The Poetry Contest of Proseland"), a satire of the revived Jocs Florals and the political milieu which promoted them.

Modernistes largely rejected bourgeois values, which they thought to be the opposite of art. Consequently, they adopted two stances: they either set themselves apart from society in a bohemian or culturalist attitude (Decadent and Parnassian poets, Symbolist playwrights, etc.) or they attempted to use art to change society (Modernista architects and designers, playwrights inspired by Henrik Ibsen, some of Maragall's poetry, etc.)

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