Antoni Gaudi And Juvenile Arthritis

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The Arthritis of Antoni Gaudi

“Antoni Gaudí i Cornet, Catalan architect and one of the most important visual artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, suffered from a recurrent and often persistent arthritis since he was 6 years old. His diagnosis is uncertain but juvenile idiopathic arthritis is most likely. He coped successfully with his rheumatic illness during his life. It is proposed that his arthritis may have influenced him to the development of 2 of his major skills: observation power and analysis of nature.”

Gaudi 1
Chimenea De Gaudi, La Pedrera / CC BY 2.0

Gaudi 2
Interior Detail Of Gaudi’s Casa Batlló In Barcelona, Spain / CC BY 2.0

Gaudi 3
Gaudi Blue Mosaic / CC BY 2.0

Gaudi 4
Gaudi / CC BY 2.0

Gaudi 5
Barcelona Gaudi’s La Pedrera / CC BY 2.0

I continue to be surprised with how many artists (especially architects!) lived with some form or another of rheumatoid arthritis. I continue to be inspired with every new story that I discover. Might there be a relation between chronic illness and creativity?

Raymond Hood: The Daily Planet, 30 Rock, & The Chicago Tribune

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Daily News Building

The Daily Planet

The Daily News Building (also known as the News Building) is an art-deco sykscraper located at 220 East 42nd Street in New York City. Constructed between 1929-1930, this building originally served as the headquarters for the New York Daily News.

This building may not ring a bell for everyone, but if I said that this is where my buddy Clark Kent (Superman!) worked, many of you will recognize this building as the headquarters of the fictional newspaper The Daily Planet.

The top of the Daily New Building was flat, which was not the norm for buildings of the time. However, this detail served as an inspiration for future buildings.

Rockefeller Center

30 Rock

This hit comedy show is named after the GE Building where NBC Studios is located, at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

Rockefeller Center is comprised of 19 commercial buildings covering 22 acres in midtown Manhattan. These art deco buildings were constructed in 1939, and represent one of the largest private building projects undertaken in modern times.

This center is home to Radio City Music Hall, as well as the famous sunken plaza with the statue of Prometheus. Rhematoid Arthritis Guy has been fortunate enough to take a few laps on this ice rink.

Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune

The Tribune Tower is a neo-gothic building located at 435 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago. This skyscraper serves as the home of the Chicago Tribune.

In 1922, the newspaper held an international design competition for its new headquarters. More than 250 designs were received, and this event served as a pivotal point in American architectural history. (Trust me, as an architecture student I sat through quite a few lectures on the different designs that were submitted.)

Why am I writing about these buildings?

They were all designed by architect Raymond Hood (1881-1934). Born in Rhode Island, Hood studied at Brown University, MIT, and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Hood lived with rheumatoid arthritis. Both his career and his life were cut short when he died in his early fifties, due to complications from rheumatoid arthritis.

“A man I liked was Raymond Hood. . . . Even if you look down the list through the ages Raymond Hood will stand out among the architects of all time as one who had the fortune and the genius to conduct radical experimentation with mass and color. Many have had this privilege on canvas or with clay, but it is rare for a man to be allowed to play around with steel and glass and stone in this fashion. . . .

“His buildings did not cumber the earth. Take, for instance, the Daily News Building and the Tribune Tower in Chicago. In both instances the passerby gets the effect that the structure is poised upon one toe and eager to float or fly. . . . Hood could do you a skyscraper which was ready for a fight or frolic. . . .

I see no reason why he should not be one of the happiest inhabitants of heaven. There’s so much work to be done. He will look at the streets of gold and the many mansions of jade and jasper and then if Hood carries with him something of his mortality he’ll say ‘Not that, let’s have steel and glass.’ And if he is still the man he was, which I most fervently believe, already the riveting machines have begun their fanfare within the pearly gates.”

Time Magazine Monday, August 27, 1934 Art: Hood in Heaven

Marisol Maldonado: Her Diamonds By Rob Thomas

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Alternative rock musician Rob Thomas is both the lead singer of the band Matchbox Twenty and a solo recording artist. His most recent album – Cradlesong – was released just last month.

Rob Thomas has been married to Puerto Rican American model Marisol Maldonado for almost ten years. Marisol lives with a rare autoimmunity disorder that is similar to Lupus. “Her Diamonds”, the lead single on this latest album, shares the story of the couple’s battle against this autoimmune disease.

The album’s first single, the kaleidoscopic “Her Diamonds,” is the most personal song Thomas has yet committed to disc. Rob’s wife Marisol is courageously battling an autoimmune disease, and “Her Diamonds” was written “about a couple dealing with that on a day-to-day basis,” explains Thomas. “There’s an incredible amount of sadness that comes with something like that. There are moments where I think I flirted with a thinner personal line than I’ve ever done before, but, really, I’m writing a song about how people deal with hard times, and that hard time is universal, that hard time can be anything.”

Piaf: No, I Regret Nothing

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“For me, singing is a way of escaping. It’s another world. I’m no longer on earth.”
—Edith Piaf


Edith Piaf (December 19, 1915 – October 10, 1963) is considered by many to be France’s greatest popular singer. She used her heartbreaking voice to sing ballads which communicated the many personal tragedies and difficult childhood memories from her life.

Her most famous songs include La Vie en Rose (1946), Milord (1959), and Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (1960).

Edith Piaf developed severe rheumatoid arthritis in her early 30’s. Her physical deformities were often visible as she hobbled across the stage or as she moved her hands while she sang.

Piaf’s lifelong struggle with rheumatoid arthritis is starkly portrayed in the movie La Vie en Rose. This movie is a biographical sketch of the famous singer’s life from childhood up until her death. (Actress Marion Cotillard, who played the adult Piaf, won the Best Actress Oscar Award for this movie.)

One of Piaf’s final greatest hits, sung for the first time just a few years before her death, was ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien’ – or ‘No, I Regret Nothing’. I have included a video of this song below, along with its lyrics translated into English.

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

No, nothing at all,
No, I don’t regret anything!
Neither the good that’s been done to me,
Nor the bad;
It’s all the same to me!

No, nothing at all,
No, I don’t regret anything!
It’s been payed for,
swept (away),
I don’t care about the past!

With my memories
I have lit the fire!
My disappointments, my pleasures,
I no longer need them.
Swept away are the loves
with their trembling,
swept away forever!
I start again at zero.

No, nothing at all,
No, I don’t regret anything!
Neither the good that’s been done to me,
Nor the bad;
It’s all the same to me!

No, nothing at all,
No, I don’t regret anything!
Because my life,
because my joy,
begins with you!

Renoir, Rheumatoid Arthritis, And Perseverance

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“One must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one’s capacity.”
—Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Renoir Moulin Galette

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) was one of the most prolific of all French Impressionist painters. During his close to sixty year career as an artist, Renoir is said to have painted over 6,000 canvases. Some of his most well-known paintings include Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette (shown above) and Luncheon of the Boating Barty (available here).

When Renoir reached his late 50’s, he suffered his first severe rheumatoid arthritis attack. Within a few years, his hands and feet were so damaged by rheumatoid arthritis that he had to use a wheelchair to sit and move around. Renoir’s hands became quite deformed – so much so that in order to continue painting, paint brushes had to be wedged into his wrapped hands.

Renoir continued to paint despite the crippling impact of his rheumatoid arthritis. Large canvases were rolled up like rugs in front of the artist’s wheelchair, with only a small section exposed. Using short, sudden motions Renoir would paint – eventually completing the entire painting. Renoir once said to a dealer who saw him painting, “You see, you don’t even need a hand for painting!”1

During the 1995 European Congress of Rheumatology in Amsterdam, Renoir’s grandson revealed several previously unknown aspects, and photographs, of the artist’s life with rheumatoid arthritis.

Be sure to take a look at How Renoir Coped with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Once you read all of the details and see the photographs, you will never look at another Renoir painting in quite the same way.

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!