Eduardo Chillida was one of the most prominent sculptors of the post-war period. Working in an abstract style, Chillida managed to create sculptures that were at once lyrical and structural, that explored space through the embraces of their often-angular forms. At the same time, his luminous works in alabaster are explorations of light as well as space and material.
Chillida was born in Sebastián, in the Basque Country. He began his career as a goalkeeper in a local team, but suffered injuries that meant that he had to abandon that vocation. He then studied architecture, dropping the subject in favour of drawing, before moving to Paris. He became increasingly interested in the developments in the European avant-garde, and embraced them himself. In particular, Chillida was struck by the works of Julio González. This saw him moving away from the figurative art of his beginnings towards more abstract idioms that paid more heed to his own architectural studies and to González’ ability to construct form.
Within a short time, Chillida had been nominated to represent Spain at the 1958 Venice Biennale, where he won the international grand prize for sculpture. Firmly planted on the international map, his works were now acquired and commissioned by a range of public institutions as well as collectors, and indeed philosophers: he began a constructive and intriguing dialogue with Martin Heidegger, finding common ground in their ideas of space and presence. Chillida’s monumental works began to appear in locations as varied as the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and the cliffs of the Basque Country. There, his Peines del Viento, or ‘wind combs’, appear to spring, grappling from the sides of the dramatic cliffs overlooking the Atlantic, elegiac statements to form, the elements, space, and the relationship between the Basque people and the sea. Chillida’s final monument was to be a cube of space hollowed out from the inside of a mountain in the Canary Islands; it was intended as a monument to tolerance and has yet to be realised, although there is still enthusiasm for the project.
05 June – 26 July 2014
06 June – 27 July 2013
in dialogue with
14 February – 02 April 2012