Sunday, September 04, 2011

A Return To Gaudy Gaudi


Spanish civil war image.

Jigsaw puzzle of an anarchist, Mikail Bslunin.

Usually I try to respond to all comments left on my blog. Sometimes I miss the odd one. The blog system has a little reminder if you miss a comment...and I found an older comment left here that I missed. Sometimes people find a blog by googling a topic and they may leave a comment days, weeks or months after the post has gone into archives. I had a notification that I missed a comment and landed up finding the following comment from an older post about Gaudi...

A comment by Anonymous said "Even though there may only be coincedental association between gaudy and gaudi, it has to be the one of the most interesting associations ever. I mean if you look at a piece of architecture or art today, and you consider it gaudy, just imagine what people considered Gaudi's work at the time. Both gaudy and gaudi stick out like sore thumbs, pardon the cliche'.

I always wondered if he was affected by the coincendental association and maybe it had an influence on him. Who knows, he could have built the most gaudy of buildings just to play off of the association. Maybe he wanted to own the word. Sort of like a redneck buying more 4-wheelers just because they can. I have redneck friends, this is real.

He could have pushed the limits of design, color, shape and engineering just to show how guady he could get."


Dear Anonymous, your comment is exactly why this topic is so interesting. Your curiousity about the association between the name Gaudi and the word gaudy is inspiring. Your comment is so packed with good questions and good associations. You even bring in the notion of "class" by mentioning a class stereotype of "redneck". I believe that class is relevant to the associations between the adjective gaudy and the noun Gaudi. Actually, it isn't really a coincidence that "Gaudi" and "gaudy" get associated. The architects family was from Auvergne in France a couple centuries earlier. The word and the name are related in French where the etymology of "gaudy" gives us a lot of clues regarding the adjective and nouns connections The name Gaudi may be related to the huge family name base of Gaudin which is Germanic and associated with "to govern" and/or "goth" and also found to be "godwine". Shakespeares use of the word gaudy was not particularly negative. Gaudy is an adjective for celebration type metaphors. (which may be from its "godwine" connection, eventually family "Goodwin" or Godwin" etc)

I think that the idea that there is an "urban myth" and convolution of usage surrounding the adjective and the noun is not that surprising but rather the question for me has always been when did the word gaudy become a negative slur. Since the word "gaudy" used to be for a celebration, probably rich British status...perhaps the word used negatively began when revolt began against classes? Anarchists in the 19th century used to have ideologies that attacked science, the church and art. Art began to seen and thought of as being paid for by rich patrons representing decadent lifestyles. Joseph Conrad based his novel The Secret Agent on exploring the psychology of terrorists and their rationale for attacking human innovations that the ruling classes had hijacked for propaganda. Science and art were seen as valuable targets for anarchists. Mocking art and science was like mocking the status quo of the powerful elite. Perhaps this time period of European uprising of socialists and anarchists was the time period when the adjective gaudy became associated with the architect Gaudi?

"But then came the Spanish Civil War when anarchists burned and smashed everything they could, including Gaudi’s working models and plans. Several Bocabella family tombs were also desecrated though fortunately not that of the architect himself. Francesc Quintana took over after the war and, despite a campaign to prohibit any further work due to the lack of Gaudi’s plans, construction continued though the area still remains a building site." from here

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