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Julio Gonzalez (1876-1942)
Julio Gonzalez (1876-1942)

L'homme gothique

Julio Gonzalez (1876-1942)
L'homme gothique
signed and inscribed 'GONZALEZ c' (on the back of the sculpture); numbered and stamped with foundry mark 'C. Valsuani Cire Perdue 00' (on the side of the sculpture)
bronze with brown patina
Height: 19¼ in. (49 cm.)
Conceived in 1937 and cast at a later date
Galerie de France, Paris (by 1968).
Gallery Mira Godard, Montreal.
Christopher McConnel, Montreal.
Gerard Gorce Beaux-Arts Inc., Quebec.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1983.
P. Portmann, "Julio González (1876-1942): Les Dansuses", in DU, Zurich, May, 1950, p. 27 (another cast illustrated, p. 29).
L. Degand, "La sculpture de 1930 à 1959", in Art d'aujourd'hui, Paris, January, 1951, pp. 21-26 (another cast illustrated, p. 24).
P. G. Brugière, "Julio Gonzàlez: Les étapes de l'oeuvre", in Cahiers d'art, Paris, July, 1952 pp. 20, 27 (another cast illustrated).
P. Courthion, "Gonzalez au Musée d'Art Moderne", in XXème Siècle, Paris, June, 1952, p. 83 (another cast illustrated).
J.E. Cirlot, "El escultor Julio González", in Goya, Madrid, February 1955, pp. 206-212, no. 4 (another cast illustrated).
J. Camon Azuar, Picasso y el Cubismo, Madrid, 1956, p. 273 (another cast illustrated, p. 183).
L. Degand, González, Berlin, 1956, p. 28 (another cast illustrated).
SP-Revista de Información Mundial, Historia de una semana, Madrid, 1959, p. 37 (another cast illustrated).
M. Seuphor, La sculpture de ce siècle, Neuchâtel, 1959, pp. 75-80 (another cast illustrated, p. 78).
P. Restany, "Julio González", in Art International, New York, 1959, p. 30 (another cast illustrated).
C. Giedion-Welcker, Contemporary Sculpture, New York, 1960, p. 201 (another cast illustrated).
A. Cirici-Pellicer, "Arts plastiques: Julio Gonzàlez i 'La Montserrat'", in, Serra d'or, Barcelona, June, 1960, pp. 25-27 (another cast illustrated).
V. Aguilera Cerni, Julio González, Rome, 1962, no. LIX (another cast illustrated).
C.A. Areán, ed., Julio González, Madrid, 1965 (another cast illustrated).
C.A. Areán, "Los tres González", in Joan González, Julio González, Roberta González, Madrid, 1968, vol. 247 (another cast illustrated).
H. Spurling, "A nonchalant perfectionist", in The Observer Review, London, 1970 (another cast illustrated).
P. Descargues, Julio González, Paris, 1971, p. 45, no. 20 (another cast illustrated).
Besset, Stuttgart, 1971, p. 128 (another cast illustrated).
V. Aguilera Cerni, Julio, Joan, Roberta González-Itinerario de una dinastia, Barcelona, 1973, p. 282, no. 244 (another cast illustrated).
W. Tucker, Early Modern Sculpture, New York, 1974, p. 78 (another cast illustrated, p. 70).
J. Withers, Julio González, Sculpture in Iron, New York, 1978, p. 95, no. 120 (another cast illustrated, p. 124).
Quinze Años Galeria Theo, Madrid, 1982 (another cast illustrated).
A Kirili, "Virgins & Totems", in Art in America, New York, October, 1983, p. 159 (another cast illustrated).

Lot Essay

Julio González is justly acclaimed as the father of modern metal sculpture. Picasso, the American sculptor David Smith, the painter John Graham and a handful of others grasped the significance of his work as far back as the early 1930s, not long after González developed his pioneering use of welding techniques and scrap iron to create the sculptures that marked the final and consummate phase of his art.

González had been trained as a decorative metalsmith; he seemed like an artisan lifted from the traditions and sensibility of Europe's medieval past and set down in the 20th century. He was a devoutly religious man who loved Gaudi's Sagradia Familia cathedral in Barcelona, the city where he was born and grew up, and the great Gothic cathedrals in and around Paris, his adopted city. González wrote: "Every religion has its temple, but the only one through which the mystery of its architectural lines, purifies our thoughts and raises them above the world, is Gothic (ogival) art" (quoted in J. Withers, op. cit., p. 138). L'homme gothique is perhaps more a self-portrait of its author than other works from his hand, insofar as it describes and embodies the traditions from which he emerged and the highest ideals to which he was drawn.

The dominant form in L'homme gothique is the ogival (pointed or lancet) arch, the basic structural component in Gothic architecture, which enabled the medieval architect to create its soaring, light-filled open spaces. The division of the figure at the waist into upper and lower sections is similar to the vertical construction of the main arcade within a cathedral. Other aspects of the figure correspond to elements in the Gothic cathedral: the legs as piers, the waist as the triforium at mid-height on the arcade, the upper torso as the clerestory. The narrower side of the arch in the figure is analogous to a flying buttress, the external brace that pushes in on the cathedral to support the height of the building, whose its pinnacle surmounted by a finial, which is akin to the curved tuft of hair at the top of the figure's head.

In L'homme gothique González has deftly employed these structural elements in a material sense, and translated the forms into welded metal, from which the present bronze cast was made. This sculpture is more significantly, however, a spiritual representation of man, derived from the beauty and proportion of its forms. González wrote: "When an architect of the cathedral conceives one of his magnificent spires, it is not of geometry that he thinks; at this moment, it is only a question of giving it a beautiful form which while responding to the architectural requirements, can at the same time idealize that which his imagination and heart inspire in him" (quoted in J. Withers, op. cit., p. 134). González stated his aims to David Smith, who later included them in a commemorative article, "To project and draw in space with new methods. Only the pinnacle of a cathedral can show us where the soul can rest suspended. These points in infinity were the precursors to the new art." (quoted in "The First Master of the Torch", Art News, vol. 54, no. 10, February 1956, p. 35).

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