The Catalan Modernismo must be seen as a manifestation of the same "spirit of the time" that was responsible for the Art Nouveau, Jugendstil and Sezession in the years around 1900, but Modernismo distinguishes itself from these other currents of Art Nouveau in two ways:
1.While the Great War (1914-1918) abruptly terminated the development of the Art Nouveau style in general, Modernismo survived far into the first three decades of the 1900's and managed to smoothly integrate smoothly new evolutions, like Art Deco.
2. Another difference was that Art Nouveau in most countries developed a total new "form-language", Modernismo,on the contrary, had strong roots in traditional motifs, decorations and folk art.
For a better understanding we must have a look at the political and social developments in that, and earlier times.
Once Catalonia was a proud and prosperous region.
However, relations had for ages been strained between northern Catalonia and Castilia in the south. A royal marriage in 1469 between Ferdinand van Aragon en Isabella van Castilia failed to bring unity and resulted in a humilating exclusion from trade activities with the New World as well as a steady erosion ofself assertion, culture and the own language.
But the "spirit of time" that swept through Europe around 1900 gave new wings to On one hand were artists like Gaudi who developed a totally new artistic form- language of Antonio Gaudi, on the other hand may artists turned to the past and incorporated Mediaeval or Moorish retro motifs and symbolism as well.
Elements from a time that the Catalans experienced their own "Golden Age".
A common motif found in Modernismo is Saint George and the dragon.
It is easy to imagine that this monster not only symbolised Satanic powers but those bloody Southerners as well.
But all this old symbols were presented using new materials and techniques, found in all Art Nouveau works, such as reinforced concrete, steel constructions, improved bricklaying techniques and the application of ceramics, stained glass, iron and other metals.
These possibilities were used by architects like; Gaudi, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, en Josep Puig i Cadafalch. Not only in architecture, but in furniture design and graphic design as well.
Like elswhere in Europe in the 1900's, Catalonia experienced a strong development of social- often religious inspired- consciousness.
This new spirit, this new élan, named Renaixensa, revived the Catalan self-assurance.
New buildings including agricultural co-operations, joint arts and craft workshops religious and educational buildings and ideological communities were the results.
Much of what came into existence in this time, must be seen from this point of view.
during the fascist Franco regime, much is made undone..
The emotional value of the objects that survived, and kept the good times in mind, grew in proportion.
And the Catalans are still very proud on their Modernismo