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

Personnage dit "Femme au miroir"

Julio Gonzalez (1876-1942)
Personnage dit "Femme au miroir"
signed, numbered and inscribed with foundry mark 'GONZALEZ © 2/8 a Busato Fondeur Paris' (on the back)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 20 1/8 in. (51 cm.)
Conceived circa 1934
Galerie de France, Paris.
Galería Theo, Madrid.
Acquired by the present owner, 1987.
Transition, no. 26, 1937, p. 159 (another version illustrated).
W. Sauré, "Die Zeichnung im Werk von Julio González", Weltkunst, March 1976 (another version illustrated, p. 383).
K. Colberg, "Das Lebenswerk eines Vaters der Modernen Metallskulptur, Starrer Schwung", Nürnberger Zeitung, 21 July 1983 (another version illustrated).
J. Merkert, Julio González, Catalogue raisonné des sculptures, Milan, 1987, p. 150, no. 151 (iron version illustrated).

Brought to you by

David Kleiweg de Zwaan
David Kleiweg de Zwaan

Lot Essay

Personnage dit "Femme au miroir" is one of González's most memorable figurative abstractions. Executed in 1934, this extraordinary sculpture portrays a woman looking into a mirror with a stunning economy of means.

The subject of the woman with a mirror is one that had particular appeal for González, as it recalled for him the story of the myth of Narcissus--an interest which he shared with his long-time friend Constantin Brancusi. This theme is the subject of several of González's early gouaches, as well as that of what would become his greatest sculptures, the three versions of Femme se coiffant and his towering Tête au miroir of 1937.

Made in 1934 at the highpoint of the artist's creativity, Personnage dit "Femme au miroir" is a perfect synthesis of many of the central themes and ideals of the "new art" that González had literally forged, from the metal off-cuts and remnants that littered his small studio in Arcueil. González referred to this "new art" as "drawing in space." Marking a radical new departure from the carving and molding traditions in sculpture and negating the concept that sculpture is the mere execution of a predetermined idea, González developed a unique form of constructed sculpture that was a hybrid of many of the latest avant-garde tendencies of the 1930s.

Literally able to draw in three dimensions through his complete mastery of iron welding and the majority of other metallurgic arts, González created an art that is neither figurative nor wholly abstract, but somehow both. Concentrating on the vertical axis, his constructions are nearly always personages that belong to neither geometric Constructivism nor Surrealism but which exhibit a knowledge of and familiarity with both tendencies.

Personnage dit "Femme au miroir" is a very fine and elegantly resolved example of the mature spatial explorations González made in the mid-1930s, drawing on the sculptor's archetypal sensitivity to both form and the intrinsic nature of his material: iron. Cutting across the prevailing and supposedly opposing tendencies of Surrealism and Constructivism, the unique combination of geometrical abstraction and whimsical figuration apparent in this work establishes it as inhabiting a new and potent middle-ground between the two that was only to be fully realized by the Abstract Expressionist generation in America.

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