50 Famous People – Gaudi

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.

50 Famous People takes on Antoni Gaudi, Spanish Catalan architect who lived from June 25, 1852 to June 10, 1926.  While the mook talks extensively about Gaudi’s ties to nature, and the wiki entry plays up his Catholic faith, it may be safer to say that many of his creations, such as creatures made from broken tiles, and weirdly-shaped houses, are simply surrealistic or avant garde (Gaudi did belong to the Modernism movement for a while).  Due to the costs of the larger projects, he needed a patron, which he found in Spanish entrepreneur Eusebi Guell.  However, when he tried to develop designs for new houses, no one in Barcelona had much interest in them and only a few were bought.  The houses include: Casa Calvet and Casa Batllo.  His most famous work is arguably Sagrada Familia, a Catholic church started a year before he was brought on board, and only a quarter-finished when he died after being hit by a street car.

(Ken running away from Merrino and Mami, plus additional recommended reading.)

The mook starts out with Merrino and Mami meeting Mami’s friend, Ken Oogami (Dog Wolf) in the park.  Ken is reading a book on architecture, and tries explaining Gaudi’s use of natural forms in his designs (the shapes of trees, mountains, birds, etc.) and he and Merrino get into a posing battle, with Mami crying for “Study Bell”  to get the lesson started.  Study is an intelligent bell with a projector built-in.

This brings us to the manga on Gaudi.  The artwork is drawn well, but the character designs are typical overblown manga caricatures that only barely resemble existing photos.  Gaudi was fairly sickly as a child, so his mother would take him on donkey rides through the countryside to expose him to clean air, which contributed to his interest in nature.  Later, he gets into an architectural college, where the Dean questions him about his strange habits in drawing blueprints.  He recalls getting his plans thrown in his face by a professor because he dared including drawings of people walking through the building (Gaudi’s argument being that buildings are designed for people to use, so the drawings should show those people employing the building).  The Dean gives him his blessing, and we jump to the 1878 Paris World’s Fair, where a glass case he designed for a company to display their gloves caught the eye of Guell.  Eubesi commissioned Gaudi to create a gate for his estate entrance, and the proposed skeletal dragon cemented their relationship.  The manga then takes him to Morocco to study middle eastern building design, and then highlights each of his subsequent major works.  It ends with Gaudi in his 70’s, dying after getting hit by the street car (according to the wiki entry, Gaudi had taken to wearing worn-out clothes, so that at the accident, people thought he was homeless and didn’t bother calling an ambulance.  After a few hours, a policeman took him by taxi to a hospital, but by then it was too late.  Eventually, a priest in the hospital recognized him and notified his friends.)  Sagrada Familia was only 25% done by then, and work continued on after his death.

In the wrap-up manga, Ken Oogami decides to overwhelm Merrino with his impression of a wolf, scaring the Sheep Prince, and almost exposing his own secret.  Ken races off behind a tree before Mami can see him with his hat off and his wolf ears exposed.  He comments to himself that he’s not the only E.T. on the planet.

(Examples of Gaudi’s works.)

In the textbook section, we get photos of Catalonia and Barcelona, a short biography and timeline, and a brief introduction to Guell.  Then there are photos of his houses and ceramic animal sculptures, followed  by mentions of unusual buildings world-wide (Palais ideal du facteur Cheval (France), Great Mosque of Djenne (Mali), Sazae Tower, (Japan), Sanbutsi-ji (Japan) and Mont Saint-Michel (France)).  And, there’s the expected 3 reference books if you want to know more about architecture or Gaudi.

The TCG sheet includes Buntei, Khosrau I, Mulan, Taisou, Kouso (高祖), Youdai, Genjou, Zongshen Ganpo and Harsha Vardhana. Again, they look more like baseball trading cards than anything, but they are of people that I’ve never heard of before, so there is some learning going on here, which is pretty much the point.

Overall, I’m finding that the best parts of these mooks are the photos of actual locations, buildings and instruments.  I really liked learning about Sanbutsu-ji and Sazae Tower, and I’d love to visit Sanbutsu-ji (a temple built into a cave in a sheer cliff face), although it may be too late to see Sazae (which is in Fukushima, the site of the reactor meltdown).

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