Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002)
Property from an Important Spanish Collection
Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002)

Elogio de la arquitectura V

Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002)
Elogio de la arquitectura V
incised with signature and monogram 'CHILLIDA []' (lower edge)
9½ x 12 1/8 x 9 3/8 in. (24.2 x 30.8 x 23.7 cm.)
Executed in 1974.
Galeréia Elvira González, Madrid
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Arte de nuestro tiempo, exh. cat., Madrid, 1974.
El Cubismo y su proyeccion actual, exh. cat., Madrid, 1975, no. 13 (illustrated).
G. Michelin, Chillida, Neuchâtel, 1979, p. 167, no. 205 (illustrated).
O. Paz, Chillida, Barcelona, 1980, p. 167, no. 204 (illustrated).
M. Barmann, et al., Chillida 1948-1998, Madrid, 1998, p. 68 (illustrated in color).
Madrid, Galeréia Elvira González, El Hueco es la luz. Eduardo Chillida, September-October 2008.

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Robert Manley
Robert Manley

Lot Essay

This work is registered in the archives of the Museo Chillida-Leku, under number no. 1974.011.

"The sculptures do not attempt to encompass the interior space they are blocks of transparency in which the form becomes space and the space dissolves in oscillations of light"
- Octavio Paz, "Vom Eisen zum Licht" in Eduardo Chillida - Skulpturen, exh. cat., Hanover, 1981, p. 21 quoted in ed. K. Baranano, Chillida 1948-98, exh. cat., Madrid, 1998, p. 86)

Eduardo Chillida exquisitely rendered Elogio de la arquitectura V, a sculpture of elemental simplicity that artfully encapsulates his concept of the "architecture of the void." It seamlessly marries solid alabaster stone and empty space, offering a geometric minimalism that resonates with its medium's purity. Lightly clouded, the stone appears pale, yet pigmented with abundant trace minerals. The perpendicular elements smoothly intersect one another, creating an inner chamber and two channels for light and air. The sculpture also radiates architectural space from within, a concept central to Chillida's unfinished utopian masterwork, the Tindaya Project in Fuertaventura.
Chillida began his series of works in alabaster in 1965, following trips to Greece and London from 1962 to 1963. Having seen the majestic marble frieze of the Parthenon at the British Museum and witnessed the purity and interpenetration of light, architecture and space in the Mediterranean, Chillida began his novel experimentations with stone. At first, he used marble, but Chillida quickly established that the medium and its "white light of Greece" could not effectively articulate his own cultural legacy (M. Bärmann "When Transparency becomes Stone: Concerning the Alabaster Sculptures of Eduardo Chillida" in ed. K. Barañano, Chillida 1948-98, exh. cat., Madrid, 1998, p. 76). As the artist once said, "I was working in a material which was not suited to enter into a relationship with the light to which I belong it is to the black light that I belong" (Ibid.). On returning to his native Basque country, Chillida began using alabaster, a material that conveyed the humidity and clouded light of his Atlantic environment. In Elogio de la arquitectura V the alabaster powerfully shows its qualities, exuding its own tempered glow, partially obscured by the opaque seams of its mineral impurities.

In 1968, Chillida encountered the eminent philosopher Martin Heidegger on the shores of Lake Constance. The meeting prompted the publication in 1969 of "Die Kunst und Der Raum" in which Heidegger meditated on the concept of space informed by Chillida's sculpture. In the paper, he discussed the void as no longer a "technical-scientific" term but as a locus of energy, a field of "generation" and "convening" (Ibid.). Elogio de la arquitectura V deftly displays this logic, a logic that can equally be applied, as Matthias Bärmann has pointed out, to the architecture of ancient Greek temples. Like the temple, Chillida's sculpture is a "closed structure but at the same time a rhythmic one ... a structure washed with light and air and wedded with them" (L. Curtius, Die Aantike Kunst: Die Klassische Kunst Griechenlands, 1952, quoted in Ibid., p. 82).

Elogio de la arquitectura V resonates, through its poetic articulation of space, with the monumental Tindaya project that Chillida embarked upon before his death in 2002. This ambitious and ongoing project conceived of hollowing out a central chasm at the center of Mount Tindaya, Fuertaventura, creating a vast space illuminated by shafts of natural light. As the artist once said, anyone entering Tindaya "would be able to see sunlight and moonlight inside a mountain that overlooks the sea, the horizon, a mountain that is unreachable, necessary, non-existent" (E. Chillida, quoted in (concerning the Tindaya project see K. Barañano et al. Montana Tindaya: Eduardo Chillida Fuertaventura, 1996)).

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