San Sebastián, 1924 - 2002
Wrought iron, 28.5 x 63 x 25 cm
Acquired in 2003
Chillida’s work varied between what we might term informalist calligraphy (in other words, rapid, continuous lines and traces) and more compact forms of "imprecise geometry" close to spatialist techniques and concerns. The variation in style from work to work often depended on the media used, the sculptor being particularly sensitive to the different plastic values of his preferred materials, iron, wood, alabaster, concrete and terracotta. Trembling Irons II is part of a group of sculptures Chillida exhibited in Paris in 1956 and which brought him international recognition. Clearly appreciable in the work is the linear development of the iron, its incisive graphic nature, and the associations with the labours of the blacksmiths who produced farm tools, arms and other primitive instruments. Indeed, Trembling Irons II seems to "abstract" the shape of a plough, converting it into a sign pointing to the infinite and thus transforming it into an object of metaphysical significance. What the artist conveys is the arduous search for exacting expression, by using cast iron, which takes time and no little effort to transform, to transfer the flexible development of spontaneous graphics into physical space. Although Chillida originally studied architecture in Madrid, he soon turned to sculpture. After a sojourn in Paris, he returned to the Basque Country in 1951. In 1958 he won the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennial. Heir to a tradition of sculpture in iron launched by Picasso, Julio González and Pablo Gargallo, Chillida is one of the essential sculptors of the second half of the 20th century. His collaboration with philosophers such as Heidegger and Cioran and poets of the stature of Jorge Guillén give an idea of the essentialist leanings of his work as a whole. [J.V.]
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