What is modernism? When we talk about modernisme or Catalan modernism, a popular subject, we tend to associate it with major works such as the Sagrada Família or La Pedrera, but when it comes to the modernist heritage of our county we are no longer so sure. We often classify as “modernist” elements that belong to other artistic movements or that only contain certain elements of this style.
Strictly speaking, modernism is a cultural and artistic movement that took place in Europe in the late 19th century and at the turn of the 20th century. It involved the incorporation of new techniques, new materials and new sensibilities in architecture and decorative elements. Typical features include the use of sinuous lines and asymmetry, along with ornaments inspired by natural and biological structures.
Catalan modernism had its own personality since it was related to the flourishing of Catalan nationalist culture and politics, and to a period of bourgeois prosperity. It coexisted with movements championing mediaeval glories (neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic styles) until it was replaced by noucentisme, a style which marked something of a return to classicism.
There are many elements of cultural heritage in Selva that correspond to these artistic movements, merging with each other to a certain extent. This makes sense given that the county benefited, on the hand, from the influx of power of the industrial bourgeoisie and rural landowners and, on the other hand, from the emergence of summer tourism, thermal spa treatments and the indianos (locals who resettled in the area after making their fortune in the Americas). The result of these circumstances is most evident in the wonderful heritage preserved in towns such as Caldes de Malavella, Santa Coloma de Farners or Lloret de Mar, although examples can be found throughout the county. Together, they constitute a county-wide heritage network that deserves to be explored and showcased.