• After Civil War, some 19th century
sculptors continued working, being
one of them Julio Beobide. Bur
sculpture evolved to abstract
• Jorge de Oteiza was considered the
father and teacher of the new
generation of the war aftermath.
• On the other hand, Eduardo
Chillida’s work was very
characteristics and his styled was
• In other level can be considered
Basterretxea, Mendiburu, Ugarte,
• After them there was a boom in
sculpture, following Oteiza and
Chillida’s theories and given their
Basque Sculpture characteristics
• In the 20th century sculpture production separated from other
productions. The context and the matter were highly influential
in the artists’ work.
• Race and personality were considered as elements, without
forgeting tradition. Tradition helped the recognition of the new
style but without evolving to the destruction of art.
• There is a social conception based on fidelity and
monumentality. Personal mentality can be seen, with
abstraction in the shapes, holes, emptiness, with scultures
looking to the inside, in a kind of search that not always
resulted in works. There was a trend to interpret and to
receive the teaching of some artists such as Oteiza, who
assumed his role as the theory maker.
• The new sculptors preferred the fight for abstraction and
rationalism better than empirical structures. They had a
common language in order to simplify the figurative language
and to overcome eclecticism.
Basque Sculpture characteristics
• Personality of the artists: There were not members of any school. They
worked with iron and concrete because there was a working tradition, at
once with craftsmen and this became the main school. The differences
among artists are the result of their different personalities.
• They had to answer to civil pressure, conducting it through abstraction. To a
certain extent, the political situation, with Franco’s attacks, provoked their
beginnings with abstraction to depict a world impossible to understand for
the regime’s people but quite clean for the artists.
• They abandoned the use, depiction and figuration of the 20th century. They
followed an intellectual vision, as if questioning the space was a way for
their working styles.
• These sculptures appear as closed and defined plastic forms, this is, they
underlined the triumph of form over light and sculpture forms, as in the
works of Gargallo and Calder.
• Basque sculpture is monumental, settled in open spaces. Some of them
such as the Comb of the Winds in San Sebastian or the Fueros Square in
Vitoria were made in traditional meeting points as the churches’ portals and
in some of them symbols of the sun may be identified.
Basque Sculpture characteristics
• The language of Basque sculpture is based upon traditional
methods but based on a new dimension.
• The materials used are iron, alabaster or wood. Chillida was the first
incorporating innovative materials and after him Oteiza and
• Materials are assumed as means of expression and not only as
• The same as in Basque sport, they evolved from the functionality of
working tools to a conversion in different forms.
• Sculptors are matter’s craftsmen, transformers of natural elements,
manipulators of forces, fire, iron and bronze. While stone is passive
in front of the carving, iron presents resistance and to control it a
conductive process is required, something unfinished.
• Jorge Oteiza was a
• He started his career
before the Civil War,
when his sculpture was
primitive, archaic, and
• After the war he started
exploring organic forms,
expressionist sculpture to
move to a irrational art.
• Combining formal elements in his
·”Portrait of a Gudari known as
Odyseus” he started with his
metaphysical boxes. This is,
sculptures are an evolution from
the forms of the metaphysical
• The number of surfaces that
divide the interior multiplied to
lead to a more complex spatial
• Instead of closing, the plans are
of different length and
dimensions so it is the limited
• So sculpture may be understood
as metaphysical boxes with each
time more frequent formal and
• At the beginning he did figurative
• When he returned after the exile
he started working in Aranzazu.
• He made some works that gave
him prestige such as Luis
Ballet’s Funerary Chapel in
Agiña (Navarre), in a landscape
where they were Neolithic
monuments. Oteiza said that the
circles of the cromlech were
related with the full moon and
that this is a though of our
• From 1943-47 he studied
architecture in Madrid University but
afterwards he left it to continue with
• In 1948 he went to Paris and he
started with sculpture.
• He was contemporary of other
authors he met in Paris after WWII
Le Corbusier, Jose Luis Sert, Jean
Arp and Isamu Noguchi; all of them
were involved in a philosophical
debate and related to the Bauhaus
and De-Still, two movements
previous to the war in which several
arts were connected.
• Taking as the origin the connexion
between painting, sculpture, music
and literature theory, these
visionaries created works
overcoming all the limits.
• With the time, Chillida started
changing materials and he tried to
answer his metaphysical worries.
• When he came to the Basque
Country in 1951 he left the concrete
he used in Paris to change to iron,
wood and steel. These materials
reflected the Basque industrial
tradition , architecture and
agriculture, landscape and the dark
light of the region.
• Since 1970 he took as models the
houses of the Basque Country.
• He changed his ideas about space
by abstract forms and he started
projecting large scale works,
exploring the possibilities of density,
scale, rhythm, and others.
• Alabaster, without being related to
Basque tradition, is a material of
important weight in sculpture history.
• In 1963 he travelled to Greece, Rome,
Umbria, Tuscany and Provence and
after studying the work of Medardo
Rosso and Piero della Francesca
aimed at recovering in the Louvre the
light quality of his initial works.
• In order to approach to the white light
of Greece and the translucent Rosso’s
portraits, Chillida used alabaster.
• The quality of this material is that it has
a kind of internal light, but not full,
something that remained Chillida of the
atmosphere full of clouds of his region.
• Basque sculpture is of strong
expression and it should be
free, being at open air and not
• This is evident in Nestor
Basterretxea’s cosmogony: it
is not needed to bring works
from other places to decorate
our world when it can be found
a link with our roots.
• These ideas are not new but
the artist tried to create a kind
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