“To project and draw in space with the help of new devices, to use this space and construct with it as if it were a newly acquired material – that is my endeavour.” Julio González
Julio González is today regarded alongside Constantin Brancusi, Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti as one of the foremost pioneers of modern sculpture and the father of the tradition of welded iron sculpture that extends from the early 1930s to the present day. In the last ten years of his life, González produced an unprecedented run of constructed iron masterpieces that radically transformed the entire nature of modern sculpture and opened a new path for a younger generation of sculptors.
The catalyst for this dramatic transformation of González’s art was a celebrated collaboration with Picasso between 1928 and 1932 that liberated both artists’ creative potential and produced some of the most revolutionary and exciting sculptures of the 20th century. Because of its radical impact on both men’s work, this collaboration between the two Spanish artists who had been friends since first meeting in Barcelona at the turn of the century, has taken on a legendary status.
When the young American artist, David Smith, first saw images of these groundbreaking works, he immediately grasped their potential. In 1933, with his own series of four welded iron heads, Smith began a diverse, monumental body of work that, like the work of younger sculptors who followed, such as Eduardo Chillida and Anthony Caro, explored and expanded into new territories that can be traced back to Picasso and González’s momentous innovation.
Julio González, First Master of the Torch is named after David Smith’s moving essay which he wrote for ARTnews in 1956 on the occasion of González’s exhibition at MoMA. It includes Tete aux grands yeux, 1930, by Julio González, from Lehmbruck Museum; The Woman Bandit, 1956-1958, by David Smith; Oyarax I, 1954, by Eduardo Chillida; and Table Piece LXXXV, 1969, by Anthony Caro.
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in dialogue with
14 February – 02 April 2012
First Master of the Torch
David Smith, ARTnews,
Extracts from film:
Dir. Barrie Gavin, 1985.