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The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família – Antoni Gaudi’s legendary Art Noveau and Gothic cathedral – is without question the most iconic sight in Barcelona. Begun in 1882, it’s still being built, with the scheduled completion date of 2026 looking decidedly optimistic.
Although acclaimed and beloved today, Gaudi’s work suffered an extended period of critical neglect following his death in 1926. The romantic extravagance of the cathedral’s design seemed hopelessly out of date in an age of gleaming steel and polished glass.
Step forward Salvador Dali. He was one of the first avant-garde artists to publicly express his admiration for Gaudi’s architecture, praising it repeatedly throughout his career. He described it as “edible”, lauding its ‘nutritious’ properties in contrast to what he saw as the sterility of the functionalist aesthetic then in vogue. He thought of it as “solidified wish-fulfilment”. To Dali, the Sagrada Familia was a sublime monument to creativity in the heart of the city.
At a lecture held in Gaudi’s Parc Guell on 29th September 1956, Dali created an enormous painting of the Sagrada Familia in tar on canvas. It was sadly not preserved.
This splendid lithograph however is a wonderful testament to the work of one of Dali’s lifelong heroes, and a fitting tribute to one of Spain’s most beautiful landmarks.