He began as an apprentice in the studio of sculptor Josep Llimona and in 1900, enrolled as a student in the Escola de la Llotja in Barcelona. In 1903 he exhibited his work in Els Quatre Gats with the Els Negres group (Manuel Ainaud and Claudi Grau). At the end of that same year, he moved to Paris and immersed himself in its artistic life at the Salon d’Automne and attended exhibitions in the Champ de Mars. There he became friends with artists such as Picasso, Maillol and Gargallo, and reunited with his old friends Manolo Hugué, Ramon Pichot and Joaquim Sunyer.
His summer visits to Barcelona allowed him to further immerse himself in the Catalan creative environment. He attended the social gatherings presided over by Quim Borradellas in the Lyon d’Or, also frequented by Xènius (Eugenio d’Ors), Marius Aguilar, Enric Jardí, Josep M. Junoy and Ynglada. In 1910 he participated in the first exhibition of Les Arts i els Artistes association. After a passionate promotional campaign led by Josep M. Junoy, the Faianç Català galleries hosted his first solo exhibition in Barcelona, in 1911.His work was highly regarded in Noucentist circles, which commissioned illustrations from him and published some of his work in their magazines. Casanovas’ sculpted forms are characterized by the notion of an ideal woman along the lines of the austere and solid “La Ben Plantada” by Eugenio d’Ors.
When he left Paris, the artist settled in the Barcelona neighborhood of Guinardó. In 1914 he joined the team at La Revista and became involved in the school of decoration run by Joaquín Torres García. In 1919 the first monograph devoted to the sculptor, written by Manuel Abril, appeared. The next year, he was granted a show in the special gallery of the Barcelona art exhibition. Meanwhile, the prestigious La Revista group published an extensive biography written by Josep Pla (with an afterword by Josep M. Junoy) and elaborately illustrated. His influence in the Catalan creative landscape grew: in 1927 he founded and headed the Associació d’Escultors; in 1929 he won the top medal at the Barcelona International Exhibition; in 1932 he enrolled in the Academia de Bellas Artes de Sant Jordi, and in 1935, he was elected president of Les Arts i els Artistes. That same year, he won the Campeny de la Generalitat de Catalunya award, and Sala Parés organized an exhibition/tribute.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, Casanovas joined the Alianza de Intelectuales Antifascistas para la Defensa de la Cultura (Alliance of Intellectuals for the Culture’s Defense) and moved to Toss, where he became museum director. In 1939, the artist and his family went into exile in France. They did not return to Catalunya until 1942. Then, after spending several months in prison, Cassanovas began working as an artist again in Guinardó, where he died.
Noemi de Haro