Reviews:

Antoni GaudÍ

"Biography is an exacting art… It calls for grindingly accurate scholarship and harsh self-discipline ... it has to be entertaining, shocking... gripping reading.  On all these points Gijs van Hensbergen succeeds... heroic." Sutherland Lyall, Architects Journal


"Van Hensbergen has produced a soaring biography of his subject, meticulously researched, elegantly organized, fluidly, lucidly written.... an eye-opening piece of social history." Gavin Scott, Chicago Tribune

"This is a tale of murdered prostitutes and exhumed nuns, of stillborn 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 is a celibate, vegetarian, devout man who liked lettuce dipped in milk for lunch." Rowan Moore, Evening Standard


"A meticulously constructed biography." William Gill, New Statesman


"This book is an excellent introduction, full of Catalan sources, knowledgeable and erudite...a work of enormous scholarship." Simon Kuper, The Tablet


"Fascinating" David Bradbury, Daily Mail


"Detailed, impassioned and fascinating. Gijs van Hensbergen has not written a hagiography, but an account of a solitary genius: inspired, unpredictable, improvident, unforgettable." Stephen Bayley, The Observer


"What is so paradoxical, and makes this biography so riveting, is that as Gaudí embraced celibacy, Catholic orthodoxy, and became more ascetic and obsessed with suffering, so his work increasingly became an extrovert celebration of life.... van Hensbergen has done an excellent job in setting Gaudí in context, both architecturally and politically." Simon Courtauld, The Spectator


"The book is very successful in doing what is most important - bringing vividly alive for the first time for a non-Spanish readership the Catalan cultural and political background that is the key to understanding Gaudí." Aileen Reid, The Sunday Telegraph


"The author’s virtues of balance and good taste are evident everywhere in this book, making it a powerfully creditable testament to the permanent value of Gaudi’s contributions.... this is truly a landmark effort.  The book will fascinate anyone interested in modern architecture and urbanism, Spanish art or the relationships between art, religion and social improvement." Publishers Weekly


"The most extraordinary and important biography I have read this year is Gaudí by Gijs van Hensbergen, the lunatic, genius and possibly saint said to be ‘the most famous architect in the world’ who towers over Catalonia and Barcelona like his shrine to the Holy Family that is still rising higher above the city 75 years after his death. A vivid, painstaking portrait of an almost mediaeval figure brooding over the 20th century." Jane Gardam, Spectator, The Independent (Books of the Year)


"A passionate text, jam packed with fascinating information and ideas that teases us on into further musings." José Maria Parreño, El Cultural, El Mundo


"It is not hard to imagine that Gaudí tapped into some hotline to heaven or hell - where on earth did these unprecedented shapes come from, if not one or the other.... a fine biography."

Hugh Pearman, The Sunday Times


"Van Hensbergen has wisely allowed testimonies and descriptions to speak for themselves... There are certain passages of music, certain monuments, books, paintings and sculptures, certain sites, that acquire with the passing of time an identity or a presence independent from the circumstances of their creation. They exist but not in any historical present, so that the “Agnus Dei” from Fauré’s Requiem or the Spiral Tower of Samarkand becomes contemporary with its listeners or its viewers. Gaudí’s buildings, especially the unfinished Sagrada Família in all its fantastical glory, have now long distanced themselves from the foibles and features of their maker and confront each visitor alone, as if sprung fully formed from the ground, sub specie aeternitas.  Gijs van Hensbergen’s admiring and yet cautious biography of Gaudí serves as a useful reminder that the nature of these astounding pieces is also humbly and ineluctably human." Alberto Manguel, Times Literary Supplement


"Intriguing ....as a guide to iconography van Hensbergen is expert." Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times


"Gijs van Hensbergen has written a terrifically stirring biography of Gaudí. The book vibrates with empathic power. Mr van Hensbergen makes a strong case for Gaudí’s importance to contemporary architecture and urbanism.  He also upholds the right of any perceptive writer to seek autobiographical meaning in artistic form... If the book is not a substitute for a visit to Barcelona, it is still a gripping first-hand account of Gaudí’s power to melt the mind." Herbert Muschamp, The New York Times
                              
"... at the end of it I felt like jumping on a jet to Barcelona once again, imagination at full stretch, rosary in hand." Jonathan Glancey, The Guardian




 

© 2013 Gijs van Hensbergen

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