WMF Supports Preservation of Gaudí’s Legacy
World Monuments Fund (WMF) donors and staff members visited Güell Pavilions and Garden, a 2014 Watch site, in advance of the launch of new work there. One of Gaudí’s early creations, the pavilions were commissioned by (and bear the name of) Eusebi Güell, who would become Gaudí’s lifelong patron. It was here that Gaudí first experimented with trencadís, a technique he invented to cover his buildings with color and textural elements through the use of broken plates, tiles, and other objects. The technique would go on to be employed to great effect at a number of his projects.
“Gaudí’s trencadís were extraordinarily ahead of their time in their exploration of the reuse of existing materials, transforming waste into art,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, WMF President and CEO. “Thanks to the Manitou Fund, we are able to return to the Güell Pavilions, where Gaudí first used the technique, almost ten years after listing these buildings on the Watch. And with our work on the iconic Dragon Gate, we are proud to restore one of Gaudí's early masterpieces to its original glory and enrich the experience of visitors.”
The visit also included a trip to Palau Güell to celebrate the opening of Gaudí & Trencadís, an exhibition produced by WMF that has already been visited by more than 300,000 people on the earlier stops of its tour around Spain. The show is devoted to exploring Gaudí’s use of the trencadís technique. Palau Güell is the final stop on the show’s tour, after which it will be handed over to the Güell Pavilions for display. This handover and the restoration of the Pavilions’ iconic Dragon Gate will be supported by WMF.
The Gaudí & Trencadís exhibition grew out of the 2014 inclusion of the Pavilions on the Watch to increase public awareness of trencadís and spur debate amongst professionals about conservation and restoration criteria.
The inclusion of the Guell Pavilions and Garden on the World Monuments Watch raised awareness of the buildings’ conservation needs, and the Municipality of Barcelona subsequently established a management plan, which is now being implemented.
With the support of the American Express, WMF has been able to implement several actions relating to the safeguard and protection of Catalan art nouveau, or modernisme, including the publication of a book in 2019, Gaudí & Trencadís Mosaic, written by Marta Saliné and Mireia Freixa with photographs by Pere Vivas and Ricard Pla. The Gaudí & Trencadís exhibition was based upon this book. Saliné and Freixa, its co-authors, curated the show and participated in several accompanying workshops and roundtables. Before Barcelona, the exhibition was shown at at the National Museum of Ceramics in Valencia, the Manolo Safont Museum of Tiles in Onda, the Museums of Sitges, and the Can Tinturé Museum in Esplugues de Llobregat. In collaboration with the University of Barcelona, WMF also developed an app to showcase 100 “invisible” modernist buildings throughout Barcelona and encourage more sustainable tourism in the city. Pablo Longoria, Director of WMF Spain, led these initiatives.
World Monuments Fund safeguards cultural heritage around the globe, ensuring our treasured places are preserved for present and future generations.
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