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Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002)

A modernist sculptor and drawing master from the Basque section of Spain that includes his birthplace, San Sebastian, Eduardo Chillida did early work that focused on the human figure, especially torsos and busts, but later did massive abstract pieces from concrete, cast iron and steel.  One of his very largest sculptures, De Musica, weighs 81 tons and has arm-like pillars that reach towards each other but do not touch.  It was exhibited in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in West Yorkshire, England.  In 1992, his concrete Hommage to Tolerance was exhibited at the Worlds Fair in Seville, Spain.

During his career, he lived much of his life in a house overlooking the bay in San Sebastian in northern Spain.  The view includes his own sculpture, Wind Combs, which is a grouping of three forms embedded in the coastal rocks.  Public works by him are also in Barcelona, Guernica, Seville, Paris, Frankfurt and Dallas, Texas.

Chillida studied in Madrid and then went to Pairs where he was influenced by Pablo Palazuelo in his first figurative work, done in plaster and clay.  Other influences were Frank Lloyd Wright, Albert Giacometti and Joan Miro.  In 1950, he began doing printmaking---lithography, woodcuts, etchings, drypoints and silkscreens.  His graphics are not related to his sculpture but are creative expressions unto themselves.  During the 1960s, his graphics tended to be massive black lines on white, giving the appearance of realistic shapes. Towards the end of his life, he did graphic reliefs.

Of his art expression, Chillida said:  "I'm of the opinion, and this is very important to me, that we are from somewhere. Ideally, we are from one place, where our roots are, but we should reach out to the entire world and borrow ideas from other cultures. Anyplace can be perfect for the person who's adapted to it. Here in the Basque Country I feel like I'm where I belong, like a tree adapted to the land, but with branches that reach out to the rest of the world. I'm trying to create the work of a person, my own work because I am who I am, and since this is where I'm from, my work will take on particular tones, a sort of dark light, our light." (


The collection of the Eduardo Chillida sculpture is at the Zabalaga estate, Basque region property near San Sebastian that he and his wife, Pilar Belzunce, purchased in 1984 with family funds.  They continued to buy land to expand their holdings, and called Chillida-Leku, it has been turned into a sculpture garden so that many people can enjoy the work of the sculptor.  The architect, Joaquin Montero, has been helpful in restoration.  The purchased part of the estate includes a 16th century traditional farmhouse, that was dilapidated at the time of acquisition, and which has served as a storage place for Chillida's sculpture when it is in the final oxidation stage. 

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