‘It is the nature of grace always to fill spaces that have been empty.’

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Chillida is by definition an ‘artist-philosopher’ whose practice is deeply grounded in literature, philosophy and thought. One of the writers that most influenced Chillida was the German poet and dramatist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In 1986, Chillida installed House for Goethe, a large sculptural piece, as a tribute to his much-loved writer. Chillida affirmed that ‘I do not believe so much in experience. I think it is conservative. I believe in perception, which is something else (…) I prefer the position of perception. All of my work is the progeny of the question. I am a specialist in asking questions, some without answers.’

Chillida’s House for Goethe is an abstract, elliptical memorial ‘monument’ that contrasts with the figurative statue of Goethe standing nearby that portrays the subject naturalistically. Chillida’s work, however, encourages a spiritual engagement with the poet as an abstract memorial open to wider interpretative opportunities. The work offers visitors psychological engagement as they can walk inside it, a powerful memorial both to Goethe and to Chillida’s love of literature.

Joseph Karl Steiler, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1828