Eduardo Chillida

Spain 1924 - 2002


Eduardo Chillida
Eduardo Chillida
December 6, 2014
Nina Karaicic is a journalist with experience in TV and radio media. Born in 1989, she had studied at the University of Belgrade – Faculty of Political Sciences (Journalism). Interests: Photography, Art, Film, Folklore, Video Games

The oeuvre of Eduardo Chillida represents one of the finest examples of thinking the media differently in regards to its conventions. Namely, it is hard to describe his works as mere sculptures, rather they can be classified as site specifics or spatial interventions. The way Chillida articulates the mass and volume, the material and the very space, reflects the immense focus on the production of meaning. Although his works are indeed abstract, they are permeated with conceptual questions and metaphysical concerns.

The international fame of spanish sculptor was crowned with special venice prize and huge museum retrospection
Eduardo Chillida – Monumento, 1971 – image via wikimedia

From Football Player To An Artist

Eduardo Chillida was born in 1924, in San Sebastián. He was raised in an influential family, with his father being a major and mother a soprano. As a young boy, Chillida practiced football for the local Real Sociedad team, but his knee was severely injured and that caused the end of the promising football career. From 1942 to 1946 he studied architecture at the University of Madrid, but in 1947 decided to abandoned architecture for art. Shortly after, Chillida moved to Paris, where he set up his first studio. In 1950 Chillida married Pilar Belzunce and later returned to the San Sebastián area, first to the nearby village and in 1959 to the city of his birth, where he remained until the end of his life.

His sculptures are carefully thought in regards to the open space

In his home town Eduardo Chillida realized several public works while in a search for best form
Eduardo Chillida – Eloge de l horizon – image via boumbang

The Choice of Material

In the begging, the artist worked with clay and plaster, but soon he started focusing on using steel and granite, the materials with which he could deal with the empty space, the vacuum and the horizon. Upon returning to the Basque Country in 1951, Eduardo Chillida soon abandoned the plaster and transferred to working with forged iron. The artist opened his studio and started producing the works in collaboration with the local blacksmith. For some of the works, Chillida used wood as a base and in 1965 he began making sculpture in alabaster. Rather than turning over a maquette of a sculpture to fabricators, the artist worked closely with the men in the workshops.

Eduardo Chillida was fascinated with the characteristics of iron

The new articles and news about his life can not be found since the artist passed away
Eduardo Chillida – Artwork – image via boumbang

The Matter of Form

Initially, Chillida was concentrated on the human form, especially torsos and busts, while his later works tended to be more massive and more abstract. After he rediscovered iron the artist produced his first Abstract style sculpture which was called Ilarik. That work was a primitive and austere piece of sculpture but it incorporated some of Chillida’s favorite elements: space, emptiness, scale, and matter. Actually, it represents the introduction in a further development of almost brutal and industrialized aesthetics. As the time passed by his works have become more and more massive and monumental, suggesting movement and tension.

Specific approach to mass and volume

The works of Eduardo Chillida were shown in new spanish pavilion in venice and received the prize
Eduardo Chillida – Alabaster Altar – image via vatican-patrons

Public Works of Eduardo Chillida

Already in 1954, Chillida produced the four doors for the basilica of Arantzazu, and the following year, he carved a stone monument to the discoverer of penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming, for a park in San Sebastián. Since he became established author, by the early 1970s several of his steel sculptures had been installed in front of the Unesco headquarters in Paris, the ThyssenKrupp building in Düsseldorf, and in a courtyard at the World Bank offices in Washington. Interestingly, for one of the most astonishing works of his titled Monument of Tolerance, an artificial cave was dug into the mountain.

Eduardo Chillida was consistently driven by the quality of space, density, and rhythm

 The news use various information while in a search of his life for production of short biopic
Eduardo Chillida – Haizearen orrazia – image via pinterest

Absorbing The Philosophy

Much of Chillida’s work is inspired by his Basque upbringing, and many of his sculptures have titles in the Euskera Basque language. Nevertheless, in the early 1960s, the artist engaged in a dialog with the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, which had a huge impact on his further work. They were discussing the concept of the space. The philosopher proposed that the sculpture shows us how we belong to the world, the world in the midst of a technological process of uprooting and homelessness and how we can still find room to dwell therein.

Great dynamism and expressive strength

The Spanish artist was in use of dynamic and homogeneous monumental forms for his works
Eduardo Chillida – Mural G-333, 1998 – image via macba

The Reception of Eduardo Chillida

Despite the fact that Chillida received international attention, his work went unnoticed in Spain for some time. Simultaneously with sculpture, he has realized quite a number of etchings, lithographs, and woodcuts since 1959. The artist had solo shows and retrospectives all around the globe and participated at the Documenta exhibition in Kassel three times. His works are in major museums, and in 2000 Chillida opened his own museum in Hernani, fulfilling a lifelong dream and passed away at the age of 78. The notable sculpture was modest, and tended to reject the label of abstract”, preferring being called a realist sculptor. The impressive body of work, as well as deep understanding of matter and form, made Eduardo Chillida one of the most important Spanish sculptors of the 20th century.

Eduardo Chillida passed away in 2002, at his home near San Sebastián.

Featured image: Portrait of Eduardo Chillida – image courtesy of Pinterest
All other images are used for illustrative purposes only

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2012Eduardo ChillidaPicasso-Museum, Münster Solo
2012Obras, Baukunst Galerie, Cologne Solo
2010Chillida and the challenge of philosophy, Museo Chillida-Leku, Hernani, Gipuzkoa (E) Solo
2010UntitledGalerie Biedermann, Munich, GermanyGroup
2009Chillida 1980 - 2000, Caixa Forum, Madrid, Spain Solo
2009Eduardo ChillidaMuseo de Bellas Artes, Bilbao, Spain Solo
2008–2009Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden, Wuppertal, GermanyGroup
2008Chillida. 1980 - 2000, CSIC Tarragona, Spain Solo
2008UntitledGaleria Cayon, Madrid, SpainGroup
2006UntitledGalerie Biedermann, Munich, GermanyGroup
2004UntitledGalerie Lelong, Zürich, Switzerland; Paris, FranceGroup
2003UntitledAnnely Juda Fine Art, London, UKGroup
2003Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, UKGroup
2003UntitledState Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, RussiaGroup
2003UntitledFundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, SpainGroup
2002Plastiken-Collagen-Gravitationen-Zeichnungen-Radierungen, Galerie Biedermann, Munich, GermanyGroup
2001UntitledGalerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, FranceGroup
2000Opening of the Chillida Museum in Leku Hernani, Spain Solo
2000UntitledGalerie Lelong, Zürich, SwitzerlandGroup
1999UntitledGalerie Biedermann, Munich, GermanyGroup
1999UntitledGalerie Lelong, Paris, FranceGroup
1999UntitledGuggenheim Museum, Bilbao, SpainGroup
1999Eduardo ChillidaMuseo Nacional Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain Solo
1998UntitledGalerie Biedermann, Munich, GermanyGroup
1998UntitledIVAM, Valencia, SpainGroup
1998UntitledCentro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, SpainGroup
1997UntitledTasende Gallery Los Angeles, CAGroup
1995UntitledGalerie Biedermann, Munich, GermanyGroup
1995UntitledGalerie Lelong, Paris, FranceGroup
1993UntitledSchirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, GermanyGroup
1992UntitledGalerie Biedermann, Munich, GermanyGroup
1992Eduardo ChillidaPalais Miramar, San Sebastian, Spain Solo
1990UntitledHayward Gallery, London, UKGroup
199044th Biennale de Venise, Venice, ItalyGroup
1990UntitledGalerie Lelong, Paris, FranceGroup
1989UntitledGalerie Biedermann, Munich, GermanyGroup
198843rd Biennale de Venise, Venice, ItalyGroup
1988UntitledGalerie Lelong, Zürich, SwitzerlandGroup
1985UntitledGalerie Biedermann, Munich, GermanyGroup
1985UntitledTasende Gallery, La Jolla, CAGroup
1984UntitledMary-Anne Martin-Fine Art New York, NYGroup
1983UntitledGalerie Herbert Meyerellinger, Frankfurt, GermanyGroup
1981UntitledGalerie Beyeler, Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
1981UntitledMuseum of FIne Art, Bilbao, SpainGroup
1980Eduardo ChillidaThe Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY Solo
1980UntitledMinistry of Culture, Palacio de Cristal, Madrid, SpainGroup
1979Retrospective, National Gallery, Washington D.C. Solo
1979UntitledMuseum of Art Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PAGroup
1977UntitledGaleria Iolas Velasco Madrid, SpainGroup
1977Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Boston, MAGroup
1974UntitledGalerie d'Art Moderne, Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
1974UntitledThe Hastings Gallery, Spanish Institute, New York, NYGroup
1972First retrospective of graphic works, Ulm Museum, Germany Solo
1969UntitledKunstmuseum, Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
1969UntitledKunsthaus, Zürich, SwitzerlandGroup
1969UntitledStedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
1968UntitledDocumenta IV, Kassel, GermanyGroup
1966Eduardo ChillidaMuseum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX Solo
1965UntitledMcRoberts and Tunnard Gallery, London, UKGroup
1964UntitledGalerie Maeght, Paris, FranceGroup
1962UntitledKunsthalle, Bale, SwitzerlandGroup
1962Picasso, Miró, Chillida, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TXGroup
1961UntitledMuseum of Fine Arts, Houston, TexasGroup
1956Eduardo ChillidaGalerie Maeght, Paris, France Solo
1954UntitledClan Gallery, Madrid, SpainGroup