Basque Sculpture• After Civil War, some 19th century
sculptors continued working, being one of them Julio Beobide. Bur sculpture evolved to abstract shapes.
• 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 internationaly acclaimed.
• In other level can be considered Basterretxea, Mendiburu, Ugarte, and others.
• After them there was a boom in sculpture, following Oteiza and Chillida’s theories and given their success.
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 Mendiburu.
• Materials are assumed as means of expression and not only as physical supports.
• 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 contemporary Basque artist.
• He started his career before the Civil War, when his sculpture was primitive, archaic, and strong.
• After the war he started exploring organic forms, expressionist sculpture to move to a irrational art.
Oteiza• 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 boxes.
• The number of surfaces that divide the interior multiplied to lead to a more complex spatial conception.
• Instead of closing, the plans are of different length and dimensions so it is the limited space too.
• So sculpture may be understood as metaphysical boxes with each time more frequent formal and spatial changes.
Oteiza• At the beginning he did figurative
sculpture.• 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 regenerative moral consciousness.
Chillida• From 1943-47 he studied
architecture in Madrid University but afterwards he left it to continue with painting.
• 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.
Chillida• 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.
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 in museums.
• 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 of rhythm.