Antoni Gaudí, subject of our The Best Gaudi Mosaics From Around the World article, is famous for more than just his architecture. His devotion to the Modernisme aesthetic also influenced the use of mosaic art on his projects. But, what makes his style recognizable? And does it still influence artists?
His use of the trencadís style of using ceramic fragments of various colors is the first signature element. Re-using materials was part of his philosophy – Gaudí also created glass mosaic art with waste material from local glass factories on at least one building.
Secondly, the irregular shapes of the broken fragments worked best to cover Gaudí’s signature organic shapes and uneven surfaces. These two features of Gaudí mosaics still influence new generations of artists and architects.
At Mozaico, we work with all types of custom mosaic tile, using any techniques our customers might request. Our artisans know that there are so many different styles of mosaic artwork. As we work continually on new mosaic designs, we love to share ideas and innovation with our blog readers.
In this article, we’ll explore some artists around the world who have cited Gaudí as an influence on their work. From outsider art to imposing public buildings, his legacy continues, and the works are truly inspirational!
1. Santiago Calatrava
Spanish architect and sculptor Santiago Calatrava is world famous for works such as the Milwaukee Art Museum, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, and the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain.
The way that his structures resemble living creatures is similar to Gaudí’s work – his signature sculptural forms often resemble living organisms. The materials used for his gravity-defying buildings might differ Gaudí’s time, but Calatrava is a fan of the Gaudí mosaic tile style. Get close enough to his work, and the trencadís style emerges.
His largest project to date, the City of Arts and Sciences, is an utterly modern complex of buildings, as you can see in this nighttime view.
Walk along it, however, and you’ll spot the mosaic artwork. Among all the high-tech touches is plenty of ornamentation that Gaudí would appreciate.
The Montjuïc Communications Tower is another otherworldly-looking project with a humble base. Built for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, it’s 136 meters in height. Standing tall on the square, it holds a surprise closer to the ground.
The rippling base has been covered in all-white mosaic tile. Check out more of Calatrava’s buildings for similar mosaic art touches.
2. Jose Fuster
The whole Jaimanitas Neighborhood in Havana, Cuba is a sprawling piece of art, thanks to Jose Fuster. Inspired by his time in Europe, visiting Gaudí’s Parc Güell and other sites, Fuster returned to Cuba in the 1970s with a mission. There, he began “Fusterlandia”, adorning his home with mosaic wall art.
His neighbors loved it and began asking for him to decorate their homes, as well.
One of the entrances proudly proclaims Fusterlandia to be an “homage to Gaudí”. Almost every surface is covered in the distinct style of Gaudí mosaic, with broken ceramic pieces and curved, intricate lines and details.
Fuster’s work has become a community project, with new artists learning in the outdoor workshop of the neighborhood. The artist and sculptor still remains busy at his studio, right in the heart of Jaimanitas.
3. Natasha Moraga
After visiting Barcelona and seeing Gaudí’s mosaic art, Natasha Moraga was inspired. The self-taught artist was ready to immerse herself into trencadís style work. The Puerto Vallarta resident entered a training course with mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar in Philadelphia. Her time with Zagar, another artist heavily influenced by Gaudí, formed the framework for her future projects.
After returning to Puerto Vallarta, Moraga’s first project was installing mosaic art over a public school wall covered with graffiti. Encouraged by the positive response and financial support, she moved on to other locations and began a series of community-building works.
Works at the marina, local hotels, and park benches have led to her largest project to date, the Tile Park at Lázaro Cárdenas Park. Offering workshops and hands-on experience for a mix of tourists, locals, and foreign residents, it’s become an arts destination.
The pieces are made from local tiles and other objects that include stone, glass, mirrors and recycled materials. They’re sprinkled with symbolism and mosaic patterns, often contributed by participants.
4. Song Peilun
In China’s Guizhou Province, artist Song Peilun is open about Gaudí’s influence on his life and work. He also expects his vision to be carried out long after his death, just like Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia Chapel.
The acres that comprise his Yelang Valley sculpture park are hilly, full of creatures from Chinese mythology.
Giant heads and mysterious figures are covered with mosaic tiles and locally-sourced stone. Song’s inspirations come not only from the past, but also from the present, as he finds ideas in poetry or even a granddaughter’s sketches.
The artist expects the public to experience the park as a joyful retreat. He rejects any commercial aspects of his project, refusing all offers, and employing local craftspeople. “I just want to let people know about a forgotten part of our history and create a utopia,” he says, “An oasis of art in a world moved by commercial instincts.”
5. Nek Chand
Originally a secret passion project, Nek Chand’s Rock Garden is now known worldwide. The folk artist began privately assembling his sculptures in a forest preserve in Chandigarh, India in the 1960s.
Chand didn’t have any traditional art training. As a road inspector for the government, he would see debris and discarded materials that were left behind as the city expanded and demolished villages. Anything that caught his eye was collected, and he began creating his pieces at night and on weekends.
His vision included scenes of village life, lovely pavilions, and more. He used Gaudí mosaic tile elements in profusion, with broken crockery, ceramic tiles, and more covering figures, ground, and walls.
When city workers discovered his secret sculpture garden in the 1970s, citizens made their way through the forest to visit Chand’s art. There was an outcry when demolition plans were announced, and the city allowed the area to become a public park.
At this point, Chand actually received help and funding from the government, and the project grew larger. Not only paid workers, but volunteers helped expand the park to 18 acres of terraced wonder.
Chand passed away in 2015, but the park is managed today by the Rock Garden Society. It receives more than 5,000 visitors daily, and is the second most popular tourist destination in India, after the Taj Mahal.
What do you think of our Gaudí-influenced artists? It was a globe-trotting experience this week on our blog! Where should we go next for mosaic art inspiration?