Modernisme (Catalan pronunciation: [muðərˈnizmə], Catalan for "modernism") is the historiographic denomination given to a primarily architectural style, which also involves other arts (painting and sculpture), and especially the design and decorative arts, which receive special attention. Although it is part of a general trend that emerges in Europe (known in each country as modernism, art nouveau, jugendstijl, sezession, etc..), in Catalonia acquires its own distinct and unique personality. Its geographical name is due to its special relationship primarily with Catalonia and Barcelona, who were intensifying their local characteristics in the Spanish culture due to socio-ideological reasons, after the revival of Catalan culture called Renaissance and in the context of a spectacular urban and industrial development. It is often understood as an equivalent to a number of fin de siècle art movements, such as Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Secessionism, and Liberty style, and was active from roughly 1888 (the First International Exhibition of Barcelona) to 1911 (the death of Joan Maragall, the most important Modernista poet). The Modernisme movement was centred on the city of Barcelona, and is best known for its architectural expression, especially the work of Antoni Gaudí, but was also significant in sculpture, poetry, theatre and painting—notable painters include Santiago Rusiñol and Ramon Casas.
The earliest example of Modernista architecture is the café Castell dels tres Dragons designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner in the Parc de la Ciutadella for the 1888 Universal Exhibition. It is a search for a particular style for Catalonia drawing on Medieval and Arab styles. Like the currents known in other countries as Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Stile Liberty, Modern Style or Sezessionstil, Modernisme is basically derived from the English Arts and Crafts movement movement and the Gothic revival. As well as combining a rich variety of historically-derived elements, it is characterized by the predominance of the curve over the straight line, by rich decoration and detail, by the frequent use of vegetal and other organic motifs, the taste for asymmetry, a refined aestheticism, and the dynamic shapes. Antoni Gaudí is the best-known architect of this movement. Other influential architects were Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch, and later Josep Maria Jujol and Enrique Nieto. While Barcelona was the centre of Modernista construction, the Catalan industrial bourgeoisie built industrial buildings and summer residences - cases d'estiueig - in many Catalan towns, notably Terrassa and Reus. The textile factory which is now home to the Catalan national technical museum MNACTEC is an outstanding example.