Google Doodle celebrates the surreal life of Antoni Gaudi

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Do not adjust your computer screen: Today’s Google Doodle is purposefully colorful, dreamlike, and twisted. Squint, and you may be able to recognize the letters of Google’s name in those five images — which double as illustrations of Catalan architect Antoní Gaudi’s most famous buildings and mosaics.

Gaudi was born 161 years ago today in Reus, a city in Spain’s Catalonia region. After a childhood and adolescence characterized by poor health, he entered the military in 1875 but spent much of his service on sick leave — enabling him to study architecture in Barcelona, graduating in 1878. After that, Gaudi’s unique, curving, nature-inspired structures began appearing all over Barcelona, from the Plaça Reial (he designed the lampposts) to the Park Güell (a garden complex that’s an architecture buff’s version of Disneyland).

In 1883, Gaudi began working on what would become an all-consuming project: the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, a church to which he devoted himself fully from 1915 until his death in 1926. When Gaudi succumbed to injuries sustained after he was hit by a tram, only about a quarter of the Sagrada Família was complete; to this day, it remains unfinished, though you might not know by looking at it.

Want to honor Gaudi’s legacy today? Try not eating meat (the man was a strict vegetarian), dressing in your best shabby-chic outfit (in his later years, he was sometimes mistaken for a beggar), and paying a visit to your local house of worship (Gaudi’s devotion to his Catholic faith led him to be nicknamed “God’s Architect”). Or go ahead and ignore the guy in favor of today’s other big birthday — Mike Kroeger of Nickelback.

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