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Can Forteza Rey (Modernist building)


Modernism was an international movement of artistic and cultural renovation that marked the period of transition between the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Art Nouveau movement, of French and Belgian influence, featuring undulating and floral motifs alternates with the Austrian secessionist style with its more rectilinear forms and a clear tendency to geometrisation. The new aesthetic invaded the façades and interiors, introducing a colourist note into the city, a reflection of the new decorative fashion that aimed to bring figurative repertoires and the traditional decorative elements up to date to adapt them to the new techniques and tastes of the era. This was a complete art, expressed through an ornamental will inspired by nature, that invades not only architecture but also sculpture, painting and the applied arts. New and traditional materials like iron and glass, stone and ceramic, were combined, imitating the processes and forms of nature. 

In Majorca, in the opinion of some historians, Modernism was a fashion that was particularly encouraged by the church. Bishop Campins contacted Gaudí in 1904 to ask him to manage the renovation works in the Cathedral of Majorca. Without Gaudí's ten years on the island, Modernism would not have succeeded in the Balearics. Owing to its characteristics, this building represents the Modernist tendency of Art Nouveau, prolonging the stylistic decoration of the façade into the interior design to an unusual degree and showing a strong influence from Catalan Modernism, especially some of Gaudí's works (Casa Batlló and Parque Güell). Lluís Forteza Rey probably met Gaudí, if only because his father José was the Cathedral's goldsmith.

This coincided with the renovation works that Gaudí was carrying out in the Cathedral. This five-storey building was originally intended as apartments, and Forteza Rey carried out the interior decoration and prepared a plan for the façade. The eye is drawn to the profuse sculptural decoration on the galleries and bay windows that is superimposed on the front wall with vegetable, floral and animal themes. A monstrous face flanked by winged dragons on the second floor stands out.  

The richness of the decorative work should also be noted, in which the use of multi-coloured broken tiles set out in an irregular fashion (musivaria) is apparent on the exterior walls, ceramic plates and disks, as well as the variety of arches used to form the openings and the combination of materials: stone, iron, wood and glass.   Inside, the decoration of the lobby stands out, where we can see the roof decorated with musivaria, a Gaudí-style parabolic arch, a wrought iron banister on the staircase and glass decorated with floral motifs.