Because an old friend stirred up my interest in architecture I learned about Antonio Gaudi. I was immediately drawn to him and read several books on him. He didn't build a lot of buildings in his native Catalonia but the few he did build have become known the world over. People travel to see them. Since I'm prefectly happy with a picture, and wanted to spend my travel dollars on stuff I can play with, I never went to see them even though the thought had crossed my mind more than once back in the 1980's. Gaudi's work is like nothing you'll ever see anywhere else. He's got a unique style that evolved from his appreciation of nature, his interest in foreign art and architecture, and his strict Catholic faith. He was one of those guys, Frank Lloyd Wright was the same, who could take his influences, meld them together, build on them, and pour out something breathtaking. Both men where heavily influenced with forms and shapes found in nature but their styles produced a totally different type of work. They both liked a lot of decoration and felt the surfaces of their buildings were a fine canvas. There's plenty of places on the internet that you can go to see the works of these men. If you're interested in reading more about them, Google their asses and see what pops up.
Hiroshi Teshigahara is a Japanese artist and film maker. He's probably most famous for his 1964 film The Woman In The Dunes. It got him nominated for a best directing Oscar. I'd seen it in the 1970's at some theater or film society showing. I can't remember. This was back before home video and you were forced to go out and mingle with the masses. During the 1980's I saw two things that Teshigahara did. One was his 1984 film Antonio Gaudi and the other was his display of Ikebana at the old Dayton's department store auditorium. I have some pictures of the Ikebana display that I will scan in and post soon.
Antonio Gaudi appeared on dvd in 1999 from Image and eventually went out of print. I picked up a copy around 2000 and watched it a couple of times. In 2008 Criterion put the movie out in a nice 2 disc set. Criterion puts a lot of effort into the movies they release and they cost a bit more than a popular movie. Even discounting the $40 list price the price isn't always that great. The price for the Criterion set is currently 23 bucks on Amazon and it's about 33 on Criterion's site. Here are the features as listed on the Criterion web page:
SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer
- New video interview with architect Arata Isozaki
- Gaudí, Catalunya, 1959, footage from director Hiroshi Teshigahara’s first trip to Spain
- Visions of Space: Antonio Gaudí, a one-hour documentary on the architect’s life and work
- A BBC program on Gaudí by director Ken Russell
- Sculptures by Sofu—Vita, a short film by Teshigahara on the sculpture of his father, Sofu Teshigahara
- Original theatrical trailer
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by art historian Dore Ashton, a reminiscence by Hiroshi Teshigahara, and Hiroshi and Sofu discussing their trip to the West.
A couple of days back I was picking through the dvds at the local library and there was the Criterion set waiting for me to take it home. Now I can check out the extra material. Right after the movie, which did look great. I did enjoy looking at the extras. I liked the 1959 footage of Teshigahara's first trip to Spain. He travelled with his father and they visited Dali. Visions Of Space is a 2003 BBC program hosted by art critic Robert Hughes. Hughes mixes images of Gaudi's work with a bit of Spanish history, highlights of the life of God's Architect, along with personal feelings and reminisces. I found it very entertaining. The BBC short by Ken Russell was a nice short overview of Gaudi's life but the images are sadly in B&W. Here's Part 1 and Part 2 on YouTube. The short on the sculpture of Teshigahara senior is interesting enough but his work isn't something I warmed to. The interview with Arata Isozaki was also worth looking at. All in all a nice set. Still not sure I need one but glad to have seen it.