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Casa Vicens Review
Antoni Gaudí's first important commission as a young architect was begun in 1883 and finished in 1885. For this house Gaudí had still not succeeded in throwing away his traditional architect's tools, particularly the T square. The historical eclecticism (that is, borrowing freely from past architectural styles around the world) of the early Art Nouveau movement is evident in the Orientalist themes and Mudejar motifs lavished throughout the facade. The fact that the house was commissioned by a ceramics merchant may explain the use of the green ceramic tiles that turn the facade into a striking checkerboard. Casa Vicens was the first polychromatic facade to appear in Barcelona. The chemaro palm leaves decorating the gate and surrounding fence are thought to be the work of Gaudí's assistant Francesc Berenguer, while the comic iron lizards and bats oozing off the facade are Gaudí's playful version of the Gothic gargoyle. The interior (which you can't see except on the off chance that the owners open the house to the public) is even more surprising than the outside, with its trompe-l'oeil birds painted on the walls of the salon and the intricately Mocarabe, or Moorish-style, carved ceiling in the smoking room. Gaudi's second commission, built in 1885, was in the little town of Comillas in Santander, for the Marquès de Comillas, Antonio López y López, a shipping magnate and the most powerful man of his time. Not surprisingly, the two houses bear a striking resemblance to each other.
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