Julio González (1876-1942)

Le pied

Julio González (1876-1942)
Le pied
forged and welded iron
Height: 8 3/4 in. (22.3 cm.)
Length: 8 3/ 4 in. (22.3 cm.)
Depth: 3 in. (7.7 cm.)
Executed circa 1934-1936; this work is unique
The artist's studio, Paris.
Acquired by the family of the present owner.
J. Merkert, Julio González, Catalogue raisonné des sculptures, Milan, 1987, no. 210, p. 230 (illustrated).
London, Tate Gallery, Julio González, Les matériaux de son expression, September - October 1970, no. 64 (illustrated).
Mannheim, Städtische Kunsthaus, Julio Gonzalez 1876-1942, Plastik und Zeichnungen, March - May 1977, no. 43 (illustrated).
Madrid, Fundación Juan March, Julio González, Esculturas y dibujos, January - March 1980, no. 45 (illustrated).
New York, The Pace Gallery, Julio González, Sculpture & Drawings, October 1981 (illustrated).
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, González, sculptures, dessins, 1982, no. 23 (illustrated, catalogued as 'bronze').

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Antoine Lebouteiller
Antoine Lebouteiller

Lot Essay

'The Age of Iron began many centuries ago, by producing (unhappily) arms - some very beautiful. Today it makes possible the building of bridges, railroads. It is high time that this metal cease to be a murderer and the simple instrument of an overly mechanical science.
Today the door is opened wide to this material to be at last! forged and hammered by the peaceful hands of artists’ (Julio González, quoted in J. Withers, Julio González: Sculpture in Iron, New York, 1978, p. 135).

Looking partly like an ancient piece of classical armour, Le pied (The Foot) is a unique semi-abstract iron sculpture of a human foot made by Julio González between 1934 and 1936. It is one of a series of fragmentary iron sculptures of different parts of the human body that also included iron torsos and outstretched iron hands, which González made in the mid-1930s and which are remarkable for
simultaneously invoking both ancient and modern traditions in a radical and exciting new way.

Made predominantly from flat sheets of iron cut into a shape and then beaten and forged into precise volumetric forms that speak of the body in an eloquent and even minimalistic way, these works evoke both ancient and medieval traditions as well as a thoroughly modern image of mankind. Carrying the quality of both ancient museum artifacts and also something of the stylized forms of modern automata, each of these works is imbued with a powerful and surprising sense of an innate humanity pulsing through its material.
This is especially the case in González’s iron sculptures of hands and this foot. In these demonstrably fragmentary
sculptures, González miraculously manages to imbue the simplest of crude metal shapes with an inherent sense of a proud and noble humanity.

As Leo Steinberg once wrote of such works,‘In this century…Julio González stands out almost alone as the infrequent instance of the artist who is both modern and humanistic. Modern because his works are vital processes, open in space. Humanist... because the human being is his constant theme, and...because the kind of kinesis that he attributes to the human being tends to be proud, free, energetic and arouses not pity or repugnance but rather admiration’ (Leo Steinberg, ‘Julio González’, in Other Criteria, Confrontations with Twentieth Century Art, Oxford, 1972, p. 241).

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