I have known the ludicrous history of Alvar Aalto‘s trip to Madrid, thanks to Eduardo Delgado Orusco and (once again) to Juan Daniel Fullaondo. I will interpret it very freely, to my way. Do not wait for a great historical loyalty. Or yes. Maybe this delirious story is absolutely true. Maybe it has returned what the exquisite education of the narrators had corrected and omitted.
In the winter of 1951 the Architects’ College of Catalonia invited Alvar Aalto to give two conferences in Barcelona and, as the rivalry between Barça and Madrid it is not of now, Carlos de Miguel – the director of the Revista Nacional de Arquitectura, of the Colegio de Arquitectos de Madrid, (and co-author of the magnificent platform of San Mamés’s Stadium) – it ran to inviting him also.
Alvar Aalto came to Madrid and one found a few bald architects and with bigotito. (Carlos de Miguel, Alejandro de la Sota, Luis Gutiérrez Soto, Miguel Fisac, etc), that shook hands him, him put in a car and took El Escorial to him.
In Madrid it was a custom: To every foreign architect who was coming (Le Corbusier, Van Doesburg…) it was removing El Escorial, in order that he was learning what was costing a comb. El Escorial was the essence of Spain and the summit of the architecture.
They were in several cars, in a mad career for the roads paved of the Spain of the fifties. Sometimes they were coming to eighty kilometres per hour, a silly thing, and the occupants were jumping in the seats and were losing his hats.
Alvar Aalto was fascinated, enjoying every curve of the road, which was climbing laboriously over the saw. It was celebrating the granitic formations as a child. It was giving sighs or pants of admiration. On having happened near Galapagar he asked please to stop. The driver, naturally, obeyed, and other cars did the same thing. The Finn stayed, extracted a notebook and put to draw a miserable house with great passion.
There presents were all architects, and were drawing all very well (some extraordinarily well). They felt a bit violent before the graphical enthusiasm of this architect of world reputation. The sketch was corrientucho, of a house corrientucha. Disappointment goes.
The stranger, completely foreign on having felt of his hosts, finished the sketch outlining a fig tree that was beginning to show to the bottom, to the left side. But it did not content with this to guard the notebook and to order that it should follow the excursion, but, on the contrary, it invaded the property to come up to that fig tree. And the whole procession followed him.
– There goes commitment in which this gentleman is putting us.
– You will see since the owners go out.
– Don´t worry. We explain the case to them and give them a hard for the inconveniences.
Alvar Aalto, to his, put to make blots on the fig tree.
And, already put, it became absorbed in the detail of a few figs that were appearing of a branch.
And even he signed the drawing. Surely it was hoping that someone of the Spanish architects was asking for it him. He already was ready to give it. But nobody said anything.
So, finally, Mister Alvar guarded the notebook.
– Pull, to the cars!
– Avenge, that already we are to the side!
Finally, already in El Escorial, they went to the monastery.
The guest said that it did not want to see it.
– How that does not want to see it?
– That not. That not. That does not want.
– But if we have brought him here on purpose to see it. Why has not he said it before?
– Don´t be. He had not found out well.
– We go, that does not want. – only he says: “I, El Escorial, not. I, El Escorial, not”.
– Since you touch the testicles, with the this French!
The most discontented was Gutiérrez Soto, which had done in the decade of the forties the Department of the Air of Madrid, with a clear style escurialense, that had been applauded by all as a current and contemporary work that had could drink the essences, etc, etc.
East Aalto, on the contrary, did not want to drink anything you are welcome.
And it that the own Gutiérrez Soto had said very a few years before that already was nice of historical references, that the Spanish architecture was paralyzed and that it was necessary to renew, and he itself was in these moments tied with the offices of the High Staff Officer, magnificent building (as all theirs) in a modern line.
But it of which a tourist wanted to look even at the monastery… It was an insult.
– we are going to take it to the Felipe II Hotel. From there there is a magnificent sight. It is sure that he likes.
And this way they did it. Aalto was left to go. They went to the terrace. The guest went out with taste, because from the interior there were seen the inclines of the saw, the granitic strata, the oaks climbing over the hillsides, and the blue, almost white winter sky. But when it went out to the terrace and advanced a few meters the round volume of the monastery arose before him, unexpectedly. It gave the agile and most rapid about-face and remained of backs to the national monument, to the native pride.
It closed the eyes. He was breathing loudly, panting. It was Stendhal‘s Antisyndrome. Instead of succumbing to the beauty it seemed to succumb before the horror.
The hosts surrounded him, in order that not even an alone photon bounced of the monastery could hurt his eyes.
– What does happen to this man?
Between the pants only it was succeeding in saying:
“Pardon, pardon, pardon. I do not want to offend. Pardon, pardon”.
He said that he was not tolerating that any classic, tidy work, it was disturbing him. He said that it was affecting him very much and that if it saw her it would not be capable of taking it from him of the head. It made clear, like excuse, that in Italy the same thing had happened to him. It had brought his notebooks full of houses of people, of landscapes, of flowers, of donkeys … but it could have looked at not even an alone Renaissance or baroque monument. It explained that the seriada regularity of columns, windows, arches, was causing a devastating effect, and it was making him impotent to work.
The hosts, dismayed, asked for pardon him for having taken him up to the edge of the abyss. But, clear, they did not know anything and only they had wanted to do the agreeable visit to him. Alvar Aalto, in turn, asked them for pardon. Etc.
– What delicate.
– The one who would say it, with the looks of clod who has.
– Debit of being a half a fag.
– Fucking with the French!
José Ramón Hernández Correa
Doctor Architect and author of Arquitectamos locos?
Toledo · march 2012
Nací en 1960. Arquitecto por la ETSAM, 1985. Doctor Arquitecto por la Universidad Politécnica, 1992. Soy, en el buen sentido de la palabra, bueno. Ahora estoy algo cansado, pero sigo atento y curioso.