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Gaudi: A Biography Paperback – 4 Nov 2002

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (4 Nov. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006548784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006548782
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 124,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


‘This book is written with immense sympathy and understanding for Gaudí himself and his work, but also for the cultural and political background. In its scope and ambition, its clarity and its feeling for the period and the personality, this book is the most definitive book on Gaudí which has yet been produced.’ Colm Toibin

'It is rare for the biography of an architect to be so human and so humorous. Gijs van Hensbergen has managed to recreate in his book that same combination of playfulness and seriousness which characterises Gaudí, and Barcelona. His infectious enthusiasm is conveyed through vibrant and witty prose. Altogether a delight.' Paul Preston

From the Back Cover

"This is a tale of murdered prostitutes and exhumed nuns, of still-born babies and live chickens cast in plaster, of patches of skin removed without anaesthetic from young men, of cholera, alcoholism, riot arson and death-by-tram, at the centre of which there is a celibate, vegetarian, devout man who liked lettuce dipped in milk for lunch…
'Evening Standard'

For many Gaudi's unique architecture 'is' Barcelona. But little is known about the shadowy figure behind the swirling, vivid buildings that inspired the surrealists. Contemporary accounts describe an effete dandy who dressed like a tramp, a revolutionary patriot arrested in a pro-Catalan riot dressed like a tramp age 73, and a hermit who chose lifelong celibacy, rejected by the woman he loved. This masterly biography is the first to untangle his paradoxes, bringing the obsessions of both man and architect powerfully to life, against the changing backdrop of Catalonia.

"A terrifically stirring biography…van Hensbergen animates ideas with narrative drive. Buildings are his characters."
'New York Times'

"'Gaudi' brings vividly alive for the first time the Catalan cultural and political background that is the key to understanding Gaudi"
'Sunday Telegraph'

"The most definitive work on the architect"
'Art Review'

"A soaring biography, meticulously researched, elegantly organised, fluidly and lucidly written"
'Chicago Tribune'

"At the end [of reading 'Gaudi' I felt like jumping on a jet to Barcelona, imagination at full stretch, rosary in hand"

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The one quality expected of a book on the life of any influential architect is a collection of useful and illuminating images of their work. This book is sadly deficient in this area with too few images of Gaudi's achievements and too many black and white photos among them. Having spent time in Barcelona, I was dismayed by this oversight as Gaudi truly was an architect of texture and form. Voluminous illustrations are absolutely required. Presumably the decision to limit photographic images was based on cost rather than aesthetic criteria. That being noted it is a fine scholarly work and delves into the myriad contractory paths pursued by Gaudi on his way to devout asetic Catholicism. Read this book in conjunction with the Taschen edition on Gaudi to get a rounded grasp of the man, his life and his work.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really love the city of Barcelona and Gaudi's influence is everywhere. I bought a short biography of Gaudi from the gift shop at La Sagrada Familia and thoroughly enjoyed it which made me want to read more. This book is overloaded with Catalan names, places, phrases etc. and for someone who only understands a little Spanish it was 'too much information' and for me it detracted from the story. I found it hard to get into and gave up after a few chapters and the book is now in the pile for the charity shop. I do not normally 'give up' on books so easily but this was hard work. However I am not put off and will search out another Gaudi biography in the near future.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This really helped me get a better understanding of Gaudi and his works and how he went about creating his masterpieces as well as dealing with crisis'.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 3.9 out of 5 stars 19 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Tame to start but finishes with a grand flourish befitting his subject 15 Jun. 2016
By keetmom - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gijs van Hensbergen has written a good biography of one of the world's most creative and unconventional architects, but it could so easily have been a great biography. The best parts of the book come towards the end where he writes in compelling style of Antoni Gaudi's work on his most controversial project - the La Pedrera apartment block - and also of his legacy. Here van Hensbergen brings to life the eccentricity, the obsession, the combativeness and the incredible creative energy of Gaudi and the account is fascinating and very moving. The fact that this last private commission co-incided with the political turmoil of the 1909 strikes in Barcelona adds to the story as van Hensbergen tells it and makes up for the more plodding style of the early chapters. A good editor would have helped the author fill in the gaps, introduce the large and often confusing cast of characters better, and produce the all round tribute this remarkable man deserves.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gaudi A Biography 1 Dec. 2012
By Dusty - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is all over the place, jumping from Gaudi's life to Spain's history, to his contemporaries, his eccentricities, his architecture and back through it all again. While there is good information to be gained about the man and the architect in this biography, reading it is like panning for gold.

This is the first biography I have read on Antoni Gaudi. I don't regret reading the book, but I can't help but think that there must be a better biography of this great architect.

If you do read Van Hensbergen's book, I recommend that you have beside you a copy of "Gaudi Complete Works" by Isabel Artigas. "Complete Works" focuses on Gaudi's architecture and contains excellent photographs of his buildings. The photos in "Gaudi A Biography" will not make you aware just how rich, enormous, detailed, organic and important the work of Antoni Gaudi is and always will be.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Gaudi biography with Catalan context 19 July 2016
By Paul - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderful biography of Gaudi written in the context of Catalan nationalism and Catholicism. Gijs also provides historical background of turn-of-the-century Barcelona with its financiers behind its industrial growth funding architects and other artists. This book is well researched and heavily footnoted.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaudi: A Biography 5 April 2012
By Seasons - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is phenomenal. The content is riveting, excellently presented and pure pleasure to read. It was received well ahead of the advertised date on the web site, and arrived in excellent condition. Anyone who is a fan of architecture, and art would be enthralled with the biography of one of the world's greatest architects. Thank you so much for this great book. The book was wrapped extremely well.

I would not hestitate to recommend this book and indeed the seller as well with my highest praises.

Thank You
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 10 Aug. 2014
By Iraina R. Caramelli - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderful book and great understanding of this brilliant man!
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