Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Echoes of the Vienesse Secession in Madrid

Side access Stream of the Media Legua.Cementerio de la Almudena, Madrid,

In the eclectic ambience of the architecture of Madrid at the beginning of the 20th century, modernist manifestations appeared in all its aspects, art-noveau fraco-belga, Spanish modernism, Italian Liberty. But it is the elegance and geometric serenity of the Viennese Secession one of the main inspirations in the Madrid of that time, whose influence was felt to a greater or lesser extent in many buildings of the capital, mixing with more or less intensity with historicism, regionalism, rationalism, art deco ... and manifesting in all uses and building typologies.

 The Secession (or Secession) arises in nineteenth-century Vienna from the hand of the disciples of Otto Wagner (Olbrich, Hoffmann, Loos, Plecknik ...) and starting from the Jugenjstil (modernism of the German-speaking area) gives a pass further on, approaching the incipient rationalism of the coming years, with strong expressionist influence and being a point of reference in later movements such as Art Deco.

It starts as a geometric modernism, with clear volumes, smooth surfaces, powerful apilastrados with vertical emphasis, stylized decorations and pre-rationalist concepts, that little by little are gaining weight in the movement. According to Carlos Saguar, in the Secession: "the structure acquires a refined ornamental value and a strong expressive accent ". In addition, the color and texture of the materials, both inside and outside, served to accentuate and contrast the different parts.

Stoclet Palace. Brussels. Secessionist icon of the Viennese architect Joseph Hoffman

In Madrid, its balance, its proportionality, its respect for symmetry, its decorative restraint and the classicist background that it contains, seemed the right characteristics in comparison with other more extravagant modernist options, since it supposed greater acceptance within the academicist environment that prevailed in the architecture of Madrid given its capital character and therefore appropriate with the formal image of the seat of government and institutions.

 This aesthetic trend seems to begin around 1902, at which time the first glimpses seem to be felt, becoming more visible progressively in the following years.

It is already from 1906 and especially since the VIII International Congress of architects in Vienna when the influence of the Secession manifests itself in all its splendor in Madrid, with magnificent examples, such as the Casa de los Lagartos of 1911 (housing for D. Gabriel B. Larrea) in the street Mejía Lequerica 1, by Benito González del Valle and Fernández-Galán

Casa de Los Lagartos. Madrid,

Emphasizes the decoration of the facade, very simple, flat and sober. The composition already announces a certain rationalism, nuanced by a decoration sgraffito in bands of secessionist inspiration. The holes, which are repeated systematically and have no decoration or any molding or balconies or viewpoints (which was a novelty), brings us to memory the Loos Haus in Vienna. The most unique elements are some original lizards that support the cornice and have given name to the building. The facade was originally white, in the line of the Viennese, however in some restoration was changed by the current yellow. It is one of the first full manifestations of the influence of the Viennese secession in the Madrid architecture.

Casa de los Lagartos. Detalle

This Secessionist language is very present in religious constructions and above all, in funeral homes, where their balance and sobriety are very appropriate.

In this line, we must highlight the Great Eastern Necropolis, with the cemetery chapel of the Almudena as the main representative of the religious architecture of Secessionist influences. In this case we will only focus on these aspects within the whole of this cemetery, which deserves an exclusive dedicated entry (which we will try to publish soon)
Cemetery Chapel of the Almudena. Main entrance..

The cemetery of the Almudena, in the final solution that Garcia Nava poses (1905-1926) after the initial project of Fernando Arbós, presents a great aesthetic complexity in all its architectural elements, making it one of the best modernist ensembles in Europe , according to the Guide of the College of Architects of Madrid and many other authors, such as Oscar Da Rocha in his books on modernist Madrid.
Cemetery Chapel of the Almudena. Side facade.

The result is a perfect synthesis of historicist, modernist architectural forms and elements with notes by Gaudi and a language strongly influenced by Viennese Secessionism.

Cemetery of the Almudena. Portico of entrance. Av.  Daroca.

Lateral access  by  Daroca Av.. Cemetery of the Almudena, Madrid.

For funerary monuments, as we have said, this language was also frequently used as a resource, with numerous examples in which it is embodied. We will highlight two:

The Pantheon of Francisco Pi y Margall, in the Civil Cemetery (Great Eastern Necropolis, avenida de Daroca s / n)

Funerary monument of PI and Margall. Cemetery Civil.Madrid,,
The architect Francisco Roca mixes the expressiveness and secessionist structural force with decó-Egyptian decorative motifs.

Funerary monument Francisco Pi y Margall.

Curious contrast between the funerary monument to Pablo Iglesias in Art Deco style, in front of the Secessionist Pi and Margall..

And, in the Sacramental Cemetery of San Justo, the burial of Eleuterio Delgado. (4th section, patio of Santa Gertudris)

Sepulcher of Eleuterio Delgado. Photo by Oscar Da Rocha "Madrid modernista"..
It seems that its author, Amos Salvador (1908) confessed his admiration for Otto Wagner. This tomb, simple, elegant and resounding in its forms, schematizes the ideas of this trend,

The Central European influence also develops widely in palaces, unifamily houses and public buildings.

Exemplary case is the Cort palace of the Molinos estate (Alcalá street, 527-531), with a spirit clearly related to the Stoclet Palace in Brussels of the Austrian Joseph Hoffmann,
Palacete Cort. Finca de los Molinos
This curious villa has its origin in a land belonging to the Count of Torrearias who gave Cesar Cort and Botí in 1920. This Alicante architect turned that property into a recreational village with different architectural elements. Both the Cort Palacete and the wall, the main facade and the auxiliary buildings are inspired by the architecture of the Viennese Secession. As for the palace, all its facades are different although the set presents a unified character, marked by the volume and verticality of the attached pilasters and the pyramidal top of the tower.

Villa El Torreón -Enrique Simonet Castro : 1927 (Calle Pirineos 39)
Pirineos 39

Fundamentally rationalist work, which stands out for its tower and the simplicity of its walls topped in angles and edges with staggered bricks, drawing a geometric decoration of concentric squares and rectangles, mixing decó, secessionism and rationalism.

In this same line we ran into the Vaqueria de Francos Rodriguez 42, and the homes of Serrano 99 (currently very modified) both of Gustavo Fernandez Balbuena

Serrano 99

We also find examples in public buildings destined for sanitary services such as
Casa de Socorro Municipal in  calle Navas de Tolosa 10 (year 1910)

Casa de Socorro. Navas de Tolosa 10
In this case, Julio Martínez-Zapata combines an eclecticism in the line of public buildings of Antonio Palacios, with a treatment of the gaps of clear secessionist influence reminiscent of those of the Viennese Skin Hospital or the church of Am Steinhof de Wagner..

Coat of arms of Madrid with holes and details Secessionists on Navas de Tolosa Street 10

Also the Municipal Sanitary Center Sandoval 7 (before Martínez Anido Antivenereo Dispensary) of Ricardo Macarrón (year1926)
Sandoval 7

It is a fundamentally rationalist work, of Secessionist influence and art deco tendencies. The two corner facades with large windows show functionalist ideas of the Central European avant-garde. The chamfer with tower image is shown on the art deco line. The ornamentation with sgraffito shows modernist character.
Sandoval 7. Detail of the chamfer

Neither the schools escaped this fashion, as we can see in the Leopoldo Alas Public School (1931) of Bernardo Giner de los Ríos García and Antonio Flórez Urdapilleta

Public School Leopoldo Alas. In the Ciudad Lineal district.
Tower on one side of the school Leopoldo Alas.

This unique school, located on Pedrezuela Street 18 (Ciudad Lineal), near the cemetery of Almudena, with a symmetrical and simple longitudinal distribution, framed by two powerful towers, shows the roundness of the secessionist ideas in its final stage and in line with the Viennese hospitals of Wagner (Skin Hospital) and Hoffman (Sanatorium Punkersdorf)) and the Verkehrsbüro of Scmid and Aichinger,,

Following the example of the house of the Lizards, there are many residential buildings that are created in the widening of Madrid in this line. A good part of the Madrid of the time shows to a greater or lesser extent echoes of this movement.

 Alcalá 183 building
Calle Alcalá 183. Detail of the secessionist holes

They emphasize the rhythm and the geometry of the holes in the upper floors, which remind us again of Hoffmann and Wagner (especially the Villa Wagner II and the Schutzenhaus)
Alcalá 183.
Another example of rationalism can be found in Calle Cáceres 10, a 1925 work that reminds us of "Casa del Torreón" by Enrique Simonet, in the Dehesa de la Villa of which we have spoken before, but that in this case is unknown author (maybe also Simonet?).

Number 10  calle Cáceres. Madrid

 It emphasizes the central tower and its symmetrical structure. The reliefs and the moldings emphasize the facade. the play of geometries and volumes brings to mind the cubist ideas of Wagner's pupil, the Slovenian Plecknic, especially in his works in Prague.

Calle Cáceres nº 10

  In the houses for D. Agustín Picazo of the Plaza de Jesús, numbers 5 and 6 (Eduardo Gambra Sanz: 1911) secessionist concepts are mixed with the later Art deco.

Plaza de Jesús nº 5

Plaza de Jesús 5. Detail

Neither the office buildings nor the famous Gran Vía are devoid of examples, as is the case of the offices for D. José Mª Cano

  Jerónimo Pedro Mathet Rodríguez in 1923 erects a building of great verticality according to the street, accentuated by the presence of elongated openings and the ending in towers.

We must not forget about industrial buildings. Perhaps one of the best examples in this use is the old printing and typesetting of the Austrian based in Madrid Richard Gans (arch: Luis Lopez 1910)

It is a building of modernist spirit, but of simple and geometric execution in a secessionist line,
This is a unique building, with a family history also unique, worthy of a thriller.

Richard Gans Madrid
From these workshops came the first printing press of the newspaper ABC. Nobody better to tell the tragedies of this family and tell part of the story of its founder in the following link:

In the engineering works of supplies we also find examples, as it is the case of the famous first water deposit of the Canal de Isabel II, in the Santa Engracia street, work of Luis Moya and Joaquín de Aguinaga. (1911)

  Canal Isabel II deposit in 1911. Photo. Biblioteca ARTIUM.
This deposit  brick, circular floor and buttresses in slope, mix historicism of Mudejar style with secessionist lines (especially in the rhythm of the holes) and an undeniable functional character.

Continuing in our search, we must remember that also the largest and most famous figures of Madrid architecture of the time received strong influences from Secessionism. As an example, both Antonio Palacios and Teodoro de Anasgasti show large doses of it, although each manifested in a very different way.

In the case of Palacios, as one more element of its wide repertoire. We could name many of its buildings, but in this case we will remember the engineer's house in the Cavanilles and Valdecarro street subway station, which is reminiscent of the Wagner Villas in Vienna (especially the Villa Wagner II) and where it is denoted his deep knowledge of the Central European architecture of the moment

In the case of Anasagasti he was always an absolute reference, especially in his first professional era.

The Pavón Theater (Calle de Embajadores 9) from 1924 serves as an example in the world of theater, where Anasagasti wisely mixes rationalism, secessionism and art deco.

The building stands out for the geometric and expressive character of its clock tower and the colorful decoration of the facade.
The cinema also presents cases, such as the Ideal Cinemas (1915-Calle Doctor Corterzo 6).

Cines Ideal in 1916. Photo ABC
José Espelius mixes industrial functionality and modernism with baroque and secessionist decoration.

Finally, we will look at some of the small details of secessionist influence in the decorative motifs of the buildings of Madrid. These often show their own features, such as circles and straight lines, winged figures, sunflowers ... stylized and geometric motifs. An ornamentation that aims to be a visual counterpoint, altering the smooth impression of the facades.

Main cover Cemetery of the Almudena..

Plaza de Guardia de Corps nº 2

Plaza Guardia de Corps 2

Richard Gans Printing

Pavón Theater

Pavón Theater. Corner detail

Grid of the House of the Lizards (Casa de los Lagartos)

Balcon calle Cáceres 10

LAMARCA Hermanos.

Secessionist molding on Calle Piamonte

Sandoval 7

Angel on the chapel of the Almudena Cemetery

Waves and geometric games between decó and secesión in Calle Cáceres 10 

Coat of arms of Madrid and details Secessionists in Navas de Tolosa 10

Geometric games on Calle Pirineos

House of the Lizards (Casa de los Lagartos). Detail

Los Lagartos.

House of the Lizards. (Casa de los Lagartos) Detail

For more information:

-"Madrid modernista:Guia de arquitectura". Oscar Da Rocha y Ricardo Muñoz edit: Tebar
-"El modernismo en la arquitectura madrileña. Génesis y desarrollo de una opción eclectica". Oscar Da rocha.Biblioteca historia del arte. CSIC.
-"Arquitectura austriaca 1860-193.Dibujos de la Secesión vienesa y su influencia en España". Carlos Sambricio.Fascículo de exposición.1981.Madrid
-"El hierro en la arquitecura madrileña del s.XIX" Mª Rosa Cervera.UAH
-Guia COAM. Tomos1,2 y 3.
-Hemeroteca ABC.  Artículo "España y la Secesión vienesa".14 de febrero 1981.

About the Viennese Secession:
-"Otto Wagner". Walter Zednicek.
-"Architecture in Vienna 1850-1930". Springer WienNewyork.

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