Noucentisme

Noucentisme
   Noucentisme, is a Catalan cultural movement which takes its name from the "1900s" (Catalan noucents), and is associated with the early years of the twentieth century. Chronologically, it succeeded Catalan Modernism, and was in many respects an extension of it, though it claimed to be something quite different. As with Modernism, the origins of Noucentisme are literary, and derive from certain ideas of Eugeni d'Ors, which were then taken up by other writers and poets, by painters, sculptors and architects and finally by politicians. The Almanac dels Noucentistes (1911) sets out a programme for raising Catalan national awareness, modelling the enterprise of nation-building on what was best in ancient Greece. Modernism had also emphasized that Catalonia was "different", but the Noucentistes criticized the individualistic, anarchic character of Modernism, its obscure medievalism, and its overblown, florid decoration. Noucentisme, on the other hand, gave pride of place to Greek classicism, which it upheld for its high didactic value. The new Catalonia of which the Noucentistes dreamed would be inspired by civic sense, reason and logic, rather than feeling and spontaneity. Underpinning this "official culture", as it may appropriately be called, was the politicallymotivated desire to lay the institutional foundations of a modern European state.
   The most visible effects of this outlook were reflected in the face of Barcelona, with new monuments, large-scale vistas and grandiose constructions, symbols of power which strove to project an image of harmony and permanence, appropriate to a great capital city. Rural Catalonia, too, felt the impact of this approach, and villages were transformed with new buildings proclaiming the importance of work as a civic activity: agricultural co-operatives often rivalled churches in their dimensions and magnificence. A new vision was born: Catalunya ciutat (Catalonia City), in which rural features were injected into the city (witness especially the romantic attitude towards nature, evident in the gardens and parks of this period), while country life was enriched by elements of urban construction. In architecture, the work of Josep Puig i Cadafalch sums up this approach. The leading light of Modernism, his work nevertheless changed direction noticeably between 1910 and 1920. His project for the renovation of the Plaça Catalunya in Barcelona, the Casa Pich which fronts onto it and his own house in the Carrer Provença show how far Noucentisme took root in the Catalan capital. Josep Goday, a disciple of Puig, was influenced by his "white architecture", and the work of Enric Sagnier, a Modernist architect of Puig's generation, followed a similar trend. Purity of form "à la Brunelleschi" was the watchword of a new generation of architects, including notably Raimon Duran Reynals and Nicolau Rubio i Tuduri, whose gardens are justly admired to this day. In Girona, the centre of the Noucentiste movement was the Athenea group led by the architect Rafael Masó, whose works display great originality. The work of Cesar Martinell combines Modernist elements with noucentiste compositions. Francesc Folguera and Adolfo Florença represent the last generation of Noucentist architects with work that shows a highly eclectic approach.
   In literature, apart from Eugenio d'Ors, the crucial work is that of Pompeu Fabra: his establishment of norms of Catalan language usage in 1913 was a decisive moment in the recovery of national identity.
   Further reading
   - Moldoveanu, M. (1996) Barcelona: Architectures of Exuberance, Barcelona: Lunwerg (an excellent overview of different periods and styles, illustrated with stunning photographs by the author).
   MIHAIL MOLDOVEANU

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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