With a varied and pioneering practice that spans small-scale sculpture, plaster work, drawing, engraving and collage, Spanish artist Eduardo Chillida is best known for his prominent monumental public sculptures, mostly displayed in Spain, Germany, France and the USA. Throughout his career, Chillida drew on his Spanish heritage combined with a fascination for organic form, as well as influences from European and Eastern philosophies, poetry and history, to develop an artistic voice that communicated and resonated with a continent undergoing rapid transformation. Originally a student of architecture, Chillida created art guided by its principles. His formally rigorous constructions in oxidised iron are imbued with tension and poise. Chillida’s contribution towards Spain’s postwar artistic reputation and his personal legacy endure through his work and also through the Foundation which he set up in 2000. In the same year, Chillida opened Chillida Leku, an exhibition space and sculpture park converted from the historic Zabalaga farmhouse in the town of Hernani, near San Sebastian.
He conducted preliminary studies to enroll in architecture at the University of Madrid before turning his attention to drawing which he studied at Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid. In 1948 Chillida was awarded a scholarship to attend the Cité Internationale Universitaire and travelled to Paris. On his return to Spain in 1951, he began experimenting in materials that resonated with the Basque region’s industrial heritage such as iron, wood and steel. Chillida settled in Hernani and, in 1952, he set up an iron foundry, learning techniques from a local blacksmith. During this period he continued to make engravings and collages and this core practice was to continue throughout his career, allowing him to explore form and line by cutting into paper. This technique arose from the concept of the collage in the mid 1980s (gravitations did not replace collages) by a new development, ‘Gravitaciones’ (Gravitations), in which Chillida eliminated the adhesive from his collage, allowing the work to be suspended in space.