Nikolaus pevsner, photography, and the architecture of antoni gaudí

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International knowledge of the work of Antoni Gaudí increased during the postwar years and with it was an ongoing interest in positioning the work of the Catalan architect within modern historiography. The process of discovery and evaluation of Gaudí’s work by historian Nikolaus Pevsner began in 1947 during the first discussions concerning the production of the Museum of Modern Art edition of Pioneers of the Modern Movement: From William Morris to Walter Gropius; Pevsner’s preoccupation grew incrementally during the 1950s, becoming one of the most significant, albeit puzzling, additions to his work on modern architecture in the 1960s, when Pevsner argued that Gaudí was an “antipioneer” to the functional, progressive idea of modern architecture that he advocated for. Pevsner’s published selection of images on Gaudí’s architecture, which included photographs taken at a distance to portray complete buildings and those appropriated from popular postcards, often made his arguments look obsolete in comparison with the more progressive forms of photography that James Johnson Sweeney and Josep Lluís Sert, for instance, would use in their publications. This essay chronicles Pevsner’s changing attitudes toward Gaudí, borne out through multiple revised publications, to illuminate not only the attention given to Gaudí’s work in the two decades following the Second World War but also the evolving historical conditions for architecture and its criticism in this period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-150
Number of pages28
JournalGetty Research Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Conservation
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • History
  • Museology


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