Julio González (1876-1942)
Julio González (1876-1942)
Julio González (1876-1942)
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Julio González (1876-1942)
7 More
Julio González (1876-1942)

Grand personnage debout

Julio González (1876-1942)
Grand personnage debout
signed, numbered and stamped with foundry mark ‘© GONZALEZ 0/0 CIRE C VALSUANI PERDUE' (on the leg)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 50 ¼ in. (127.5 cm.)
Height including base: 62 ¼ in. (157.8 cm.)
Conceived in iron circa 1935, cast in bronze in a numbered edition of six plus one; this example cast on 20 September 1972
Josep Suñol Soler Collection, Barcelona (acquired before 1987).
By descent from the above to the present owner.
Julio González, exh. cat., Kunsthalle, Bern, 1955, no. 55 (another cast illustrated; dated 1932).
V. Aguilera Cerni, Julio González, Rome, 1962 (another cast illustrated, pl. XXXVIII).
Obras cubistas y "collages" II: Colección Pedro Vallenilla Echeverría, exh. cat., Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, 1970, no. 30 (another cast illustrated in color; dated 1931).
Donation González, exh. cat., Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, 1972, no. 1 (iron version illustrated).
V. Aguilera Cerni, González: itinerario de una dinastía, Barcelona, 1973, p. 266, no. 221 (another cast illustrated).
Donación González, exh. cat., Museu d'Art Modern, Barcelona, 1974, no. 29 (iron version illustrated).
W. Tucker, Early Modern Sculpture: Rodin, Degas, Matisse, Brancusi, Picasso, González, London, 1974, p. 82 (another cast illustrated, fig. 73).
J. Withers, Julio González: Sculpture in Iron, New York, 1978, pp. 67 and 164, no. 92 (iron version illustrated, fig. 68; titled Figure debout).
Kunstmuseum Hannover mit Sammlung Sprengel, Gemälde, Skulpturen, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen des 20. Jahunderts, exh. cat., Kunstmuseum, Hannover, 1979, p. 175, no. 257 (another cast illustrated).
Julio González: Esculturas y dibujos, exh. cat., Fundación Juan March, Madrid, 1980, no. 38 (another cast illustrated; dated 1934).
Julio González, Dibujos, exh.cat., Museo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 1982, no. 178 (another cast illustrated; dated 1934).
González. Sculptures. Dessins, exh. cat., Galerie Beyeler, Basel, 1982, no. 11 (another cast illustrated; dated 1932).
M. Rowell, Julio González: A Retrospective, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1983, p. 135, no. 154 (iron version illustrated).
W. Schnell, “Zeichnen als bidhauerisches Prinzip: Julio González” in Kunstforum International, 10 October 1983, vol. 66, p. 151 (another cast illustrated).
J. Merkert, Julio González: Catalogue raisonné des sculptures, Milan, 1987, p. 179, no. 173 (iron version illustrated).
M.D. Puig, "La casa-museo" in L'Uomo Vogue, Milan, February 1987, no. 171, p. 137 (illustrated in color).
M.L. Borràs, "Josep Suñol, col·leccionista de la modernidat" in Col·leccionistes d'art a Catalunya, Barcelona, 22 March 1987, p. 313 (illustrated in color).
A. Cela and P. Castellanos, eds., Julio González at the IVAM Collection, Madrid, 2001, p. 146 (another cast illustrated in color, p. 147).
J. Vidal, Col·lecció Josep Suñol: catàleg raonat, Barcelona, 2004, p. 63, no. 379 (illustrated in color; dated 1934).
G. Picazo, Col·lecció Josep Suñol: Les Escales, Barcelona, 2004, p. 162 (illustrated in color, p. 46; detail illustrated in color, p. 49; dated 1934).
J.E. Yvars, Julio González-David Smith, un diálogo sobre la escultura, exh. cat., Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, Valencia, 2011, p. 146 (another cast illustrated in situ in Galerie de France, Paris in 1987).
Mannheim, Städtische Kunsthalle, Julio González, 1876-1942, Plastik und Zeichnungen, March-May 1977, no. 37 (illustrated; dated 1934).
Hannover, Brusberg Berichte 24, Julio González: Bronzen und Zeichnungen eine Retrospektive, September-October 1977, p.8, no. 24/20 (illustrated, pp. 8 and 97; illustrated in situ in the exhibition, p. 96; dated 1934).
Barcelona, Fundació Caixa de Catalunya, Avantguardes a Catalunya, 1906-1939, July-September 1992, p. 326 (illustrated; dated 1934).
Barcelona, Fundació Suñol, 1915-1995. Col·lecció Josep Suñol, May 2007-January 2008 (illustrated in color, p. 27; detail illustrated in color, p. 29; dated 1934).
Barcelona, Fundació Suñol, Col·loquis. Col·lecció Josep Suñol, August-October 2009, pp. 10-11 (illustrated in color).
Barcelona, Fundació Suñol, Escultura/Objecte, February-September 2012, p. 11 (illustrated in color, p. 10; dated 1934).
Barcelona, Fundació Suñol, Josep Suñol's Collection 5th Anniversary, September 2012-March 2013 (illustrated in color; dated 1934).

Lot Essay

Soaring from the ground with a powerful vitality and captivating lyricism, Grand personnage debout is one of Julio González’s revolutionary linear metal sculptures. Conceived circa 1935, during a period of prolific invention following the artist’s ground-breaking collaboration with Pablo Picasso, this work is part of a series of dynamic full-length figures that encapsulates the spatial freedom that González’s innovative constructive approach to sculpture allowed. Together, the abstract forms rendered in metal unite with the space around them to create a figure filled with a powerful sense of dynamism and movement.

It was works such as Grand personnage debout that opened the door to a new form of modern sculpture, paving the way for future generations of artists including David Smith, who described González as “the father of all iron sculpture of this century” (Smith, quoted in M. Rowell, Julio González: A Retrospective, exh. cat., New York, 1983, p. 12).

Born into a family of metalsmiths, González had an innate appreciation and understanding of the art of shaping and joining metal. He had moved to Paris in 1900, but it was not until 1928, when he rekindled his friendship with Picasso, that González found his true artistic direction. Picasso had always had a predilection for sculpture, and had made some of his greatest artistic breakthroughs in three dimensions. Having already created assemblage works in both wood and various forms of cardboard, he wanted to experiment with metal, though lacked the technical know-how to be able to do this. Working side by side in González’s studio, the pair inspired each other—González providing the practical expertise and knowledge of the material, and Picasso the creative impetus—to create metal assemblages, La femme au jardin and Tête de femme as well as linear constructions, known as Figures. González’s imagination took flight, and from 1929 onwards, he began to make his own free-standing metal sculptures.

González’s sculptural approach was truly radical for the time. Due to the technical skill needed to forge and weld metal, sculpting directly in this medium was almost impossible for artists without a direct experience in these methods. As a result, even the most innovative of sculpture was predominantly carved or modelled, with metal used for casting rather than directly creating an art work. With his background however, González was perfectly placed to conjure new and daring compositions directly out of this material; able literally to “draw in space”, as he described his method.

Following on from the masks and heads of the early 1930s, in 1934 González refined his elemental approach in the creation of linear figures. In reducing his subjects to their intrinsic components and constructing them with a small number of distinct elements, González transformed often traditional motifs—female figures and dancers, for example—into abstract yet often highly expressive sculptures. As Margit Rowell has written, “González’s works of 1934—[including Grand personnage debout]—represent an elaborate interpretive and structural syntax. They illustrate the vision, logic and skills of a man who thinks, sees and assembles directly in metal” (M. Rowell, ibid., p. 21).

Featuring a single figure constructed from interlocking vertical pieces, Grand personnage debout initially included a second horizontally-formed figure that was positioned above the standing one. Titled Les acrobats, the original composition can, Josephine Withers has written, be seen in a drawing, likely a working study, of 1935 (J. Withers, Julio González: Sculpture in Iron, New York, 1978, p. 67). González exhibited this work in a 1936 exhibition “L’art espagnol contemporain” at the Jeu de Pomme in Paris. After this, however, he decided to separate the two figures, likely due to the instability of the structure, leaving the present Grand personnage debout and a second work, which he called La prière.

With works such as Grand personnage debout, González was able to achieve what he described as the “marriage of materials and space”. In the present work, the standing figure seems almost as if it could be airborne; two curving, crescent-shaped lines appearing like outstretched arms, balletic in their indomitable upward thrust. It is the juxtaposition of vertical and horizontal, curved and geometric lines, all of which interact and incorporate the surrounding space, that lend this figure a powerful sense of rhythmic vitality—filled with expressive tensions that capture something of the essence of the human form. A single, figurative element completes this work: the just recognizable form of a hand, this simple motif adding a poignant sense of humanity to the abstract metal components. “The real problem to be solved here is not only to strive to make a harmonious work, a fine and balanced whole”, González explained. “But to obtain this through the marriage of materials and space, through the union of real forms with imagined forms, obtained or suggested by established points, or perforations, and, according to the natural law of love, to mingle and make them inseparable one from another, as are the body and the spirit. To project and draw in space with the help of new devices, to use this space, and construct with it as if it were a newly acquired material—that is my endeavor” (González, quoted in M. Rowell, ibid., p. 30).

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