Permanent collectionCasa Vicens, the first masterpiece of Antoni Gaudí: Manifesto of his work
The second floor is home to the permanent collection, where visitors can discover the more than 130 years of history at Casa Vicens, its social, cultural and artistic context, and the essential manifesto of the work of this genius and how he anticipated Modernisme.
An audiovisual projection shows how Barcelona was growing at that time, with the Cerdà plan for the urban planning and construction of the Eixample district and Passeig de Gràcia, integrating the town of Gràcia into the city, the street cars, the Catalan Renaixensa movement, the floral games and gold fever, among others. With information on the new lifestyles of new social classes and new cultural tastes of the bourgeoisie in theatre, music, opera, literature, painting, fashion, the beginning of summer holidays, and how Manuel Vicens, from an archetypal bourgeois family, commissioned the young architect Antoni Gaudí to build a summer house.
Visitors will also learn more about the architect’s background before designing Casa Vicens, his intellectual influences and inspirations during and after his studies, as well as his projects prior to building the house: school projects, for the city, religious, his first buildings and furniture, among others.
One of the highlights of the collection is a reproduction of the Reus manuscript, in which Gaudí, despite his reticence to writing and putting his thoughts and opinions on architecture into words, jotted down everything from accounts to his reflections on architecture and ornamentation. Essential reading from this notebook includes the sheet entitled “La casa pairal” (country house), one of the few texts that remain expressing Gaudí’s thoughts and illustrated discourse regarding his first house and his concept of a home: “A home is the family’s tiny nation,” Gaudí wrote.
The permanent collection also features exhaustive documents on Casa Vicens as a manifesto of Gaudí’s work and anticipation of the Modernisme movement. Beyond just being one of the architect’s earliest works, here he created an innovative, original building that was unlike anything that had been built before in Catalonia. Casa Vicens became one of the earliest examples of the new wave of aesthetics in art and architecture that swept Europe in the late 19th century. A key milestone of Modernisme, as it displays factors that sum up this movement: clearly Asian inspiration, especially in terms of colour and the decorative ceramic tiles on the exterior; prioritising use of materials in their original state, like stone, brick, ceramics, wrought iron and wood; the value of texture and its expressiveness; industrial techniques, rejecting established formulas and an interest in natural shapes, both on the inside and outside of the house.