> A Modernist Architect
> President of the Mancomunitat de Catalunya
dilluns, 18 de desembre de 2006
Next Saturday, 23 December, will be the 50th anniversary of the death of Josep Puig Cadafalch, one of the great names of Catalan modernism and a remarkable figure of Catalanism, a movement in defence of self-government which acquired a political significance at the turn of the 20th century.
Along with Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech Montaner, Puig Cadafalch belonged to a trio of architects who most strongly represented the Catalan modernist movement. The peak of Puig Cadafalch's political career culminated in the presidency of the Mancomunitat de Catalunya, Catalonia's first self-government institution in the modern era.
Puig Cadafalch was president of the Mancomunitat between 1917 and 1923, when he was removed from office by the dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera. It was at that time that Puig Cadafalch decided to hide a large quantity of documents so as not to let them fall into the hands of the dictatorship.
And hide them he did! In fact, the political papers Puig Cadafalch concealed remained hidden for over eighty years, until July 2006 when they were discovered by chance in the loft of number 231 Carrer de Provença, where Puig Cadafalch had his office.
Following an agreement between Puig Cadafalch's heirs and the Catalan Government (the Generalitat), the documents recovered from the loft have been transferred to the National Archive of Catalonia (in Sant Cugat del Vallès, Vallès Occidental) where experts will be able to study them and find out more about the Mancomunitat and about Catalanism at the beginning of the 20th century. Also now in the possession of the archive are documents relating to the architect's professional life including 2000 drawings, nearly 400 project designs, a collection of letters, manuscripts, photographs, etc.
A Modernist Architect
Born in Mataró (Maresme) in 1867, Puig Cadafalch was the creator of a body of architectural work that came out of Modernism, a cultural movement developed in the West at the end of the 19th century and during the early years of the 20th century. The influence of Modernism can be seen in literature, painting, sculpture and architecture. Curved lines, ornamental richness, asymmetry, plant motifs and dynamism of form were some of the most characteristic elements of Modernism in architecture.
Apart from these general characteristics, Puig Cadafalch's architecture also shows influences of medieval Catalan aestheticism as well as influences from northern Europe. Some of his most important designs include a number of houses in Barcelona: Amatller, Les Punxes, Macaya, Martí (Els Quatre Gats) and Serra, the Casarramona factory in Barcelona, the Coll i Regàs house in Mataró, the Codorniu cellars in Sant Sadurní d'Anoia (Alt Penedès), the Garí house in Argentona (Maresme) and the architect's own summer house, also in Argentona.
President of the Mancomunitat de Catalunya
As we mentioned above, Puig Cadafalch was also involved in politics as a Catalan nationalist. In 1901 he was a founding member of the Lliga Regionalista political party. In 1917 he took over from Enric Prat de la Riba as president of the Mancomunitat de Catalunya (1914-1925), the first self-governing political entity since the 'Nova Planta' decrees (1707-1716) that had abolished Catalan institutions. Puig Cadafalch consolidated the formidable achievements of the Mancomunitat with several initiatives that included extending telephone and road networks, starting public libraries, modernising the countryside and establishing the Meteorological Service of Catalonia.
> Semblança de Josep Puig Cadafalch.
> Breu descripció i imatges de ca n'Amatller, d'influx flamenc, al cor de l'Eixample barceloní.
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