JULIO GONZÁLEZ (1876-1942)
JULIO GONZÁLEZ (1876-1942)
JULIO GONZÁLEZ (1876-1942)
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JULIO GONZÁLEZ (1876-1942)
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On occasion, Christie’s has a direct financial int… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION
JULIO GONZÁLEZ (1876-1942)

Homme gothique

Details
JULIO GONZÁLEZ (1876-1942)
Homme gothique
signed and stamped ‘GONZALEZ © HC’ (on the base); stamped with the foundry mark ‘C. VALSUANI CIRE PERDUE’ (on the base)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 19 ¾ in. (50.1 cm.)
Height including base: 22 5/8 in. (57.5 cm.)
Original forged iron version executed in 1937; later cast in bronze by Valsuani in an edition of two numbered 1/2-2/2, plus four casts marked 0, 00, EA and HC
Provenance
Hans Hartung, Antibes.
Galerie de France, Paris, by whom acquired from the above.
Galerie Gimpel & Hanover, Zurich & Gimpel Fils Ltd., London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1970.
Literature
P. Portmann, ‘Julio González (1876-1942): "Les Danseuses"’, in DU, Zurich, May 1950, pp. 27 & 29 (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. Courthion, ‘Gonzalez au Musée d'Art Moderne’, in XXème siècle, Paris, June 1952, p. 83 (another cast illustrated).
P.-G. Bruguière, ‘Julio Gonzàlez: Les étapes de l'oeuvre’, in Cahiers d'art, Yr. 27, no. 1, Paris, July 1952, p. 20 (iron version illustrated in situ; iron version illustrated p. 27; titled 'Personnage debout').
J.E. Cirlot, ‘El escultor Julio González’, in Goya, Revista de Arte, no. 4, Madrid, January - February 1955, no. 4, p. 209 (another cast illustrated p. 208; titled 'Escultura' and dated '1930').
J. Camón Aznar, Picasso y el Cubismo, Madrid, 1956, no. 183, p. 724 (another cast illustrated p. 273; titled 'Escultura' and dated '1930').
L. Degand, Modern Sculptors: González, Amsterdam, 1958, no. 28 (another cast illustrated).
M. Seuphor, The Sculpture of this Century, Dictionary of Modern Sculpture, Neuchâtel, 1959, p. 80 (another cast illustrated p. 78).
'Homenaje a Julio González en la Galeria de Francia', in SP- Revista de Información Mundial, Historia de una semana, Yr. III, no. 92, Madrid, 9 February 1959, p. 37 (another cast illustrated).
P. Restany, ‘Julio González’, in Art International, New York, 1959, p. 30 (another cast illustrated).
C. Giedion-Welcker, Contemporary Sculpture: An Evolution in Volume and Space, New York, 1960, p. 201 (iron version illustrated; titled 'Standing Figure (Personnage Debout)').
A. Cirici-Pellicer, ‘Arts plastiques: Julio Gonzàlez i “La Montserrat”’, in Serra d'or, Yr. II, no. 6, Barcelona, June 1960 (another cast illustrated on the cover).
V. Aguilera Cerni, Julio González, Rome, 1962, no. LIX, p. 107 (iron version illustrated pl. LIX).
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).
B. Hale, 'First there was sculpture, González', in Toronto Daily Star, Toronto, 31 October 1969 (another cast illustrated).
H. Spurling, ‘A nonchalant perfectionist’, in The Observer Review, London, 13 September 1970, p. 26 (another cast illustrated; dated '1935').
V. Aguilera Cerni, Julio González, Madrid, 1971, p. 38.
P. Descargues, Julio González, Paris, 1971, no. 20 (another cast illustrated p. 45; dated '1935').
M. Besset, 20. Jahrhundert, Belser Stilgeschichte, vol. 11, Stuttgart, 1971, p. 128 (another cast illustrated).
V. Aguilera Cerni, Julio, Joan, Roberta González, Itinerario de una dinastía, Barcelona, 1973, no. 244, pp. 281 & 287 (another cast illustrated p. 282).
W. Tucker, Early Modern Sculpture: Rodin, Degas, Matisse, Brancusi, Picasso, González, London, 1974, no. 70, pp. 78 & 167 (iron version illustrated p. 79).
J. Withers, Julio González, Sculpture in Iron, New York, 1978, cat. 120, pp. 95-96 & 167 (another cast illustrated p. 95, fig. 124; with incorrect edition size).
Exh. cat., Quinze Años Galeria Theo, Madrid, 1982 (another cast illustrated).
A. Kirili, ‘Virgins & Totems’, in Art in America, New York, October 1983, p. 157 (iron version illustrated p. 159).
J. Merkert, Julio González, Catalogue raisonné des sculptures, Milan, 1987, no. 228, pp. 259 & 260 (another cast illustrated p. 259).
Exh. cat., Julio González: Zeichnen im Raum, Dessiner dans l'espace, Kunstmuseum Bern, 1997 (the iron version illustrated p. 191).
Exh. cat., Julio González: Collection Centre Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2007, p. 36 (iron version illustrated p. 36 and illustrated in situ pp. 20 & 26).
Special notice
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Brought to you by

Keith Gill
Keith Gill Head of Department

Lot Essay


Soaring upwards with the same inspiring power as the Gothic art that inspired it, Homme gothique is one of the finest of Julio González’s renowned linear metal sculptures. Conceived in iron in 1937, the highpoint of the artist’s creativity, this powerful portrayal of a male figure serves as a synthesis of many of the central themes and ideals of the ‘new art’ that González had, literally, forged in his small studio in Arcueil, in the south of Paris. Formerly in the collection of the abstract artist and son-in-law of González, Hans Hartung, Homme gothique sees the artist merge his radical sculptural technique with his reverence for Gothic art, the aesthetic of which he believed was the ultimate means of artistic expression.
Marking a radical new departure from the carving and modelling traditions in sculpture, in the early 1930s González developed a unique form of constructed sculpture that was a hybrid of many of the latest avant-garde tendencies of the time. Thanks to his deft skill as a metalsmith, he was literally able to draw in three dimensions through his complete mastery of iron welding. As such, he took as his starting point classic figurative subjects – standing figures, a maternity scene, Daphne, and dancers – and transformed them into novel abstract evocations. Homme gothique is one of the finest and most elegantly resolved of the mature spatial explorations González made at this time, a fusion of figuration, abstraction and architectural style that draws on the sculptor’s sensitivity to both the form and the intrinsic nature of his material.
Born and raised in Barcelona, González was devoutly religious, having grown up admiring Gaudí’s famed Sagrada Familia cathedral and later, the imposing Gothic cathedrals in and around Paris, his adopted city. ‘Every religion has its temple,’ he wrote, ‘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, Julio González, Sculpture in Iron, New York, 1978, p. 138). As a result, the principles and aesthetic of Gothic art and architecture greatly influenced González’s work, as the present work demonstrates.
The dominant form in 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 pinnacle is surmounted by a finial, which is akin to the curved tuft of hair at the top of the figure’s head.
In creating an art that incorporated space within itself – literally open to the heavens – González saw a direct comparison between his sculpture and the aspirations of Gothic architecture. This parallel was one he consciously sought to develop through his art. The lofty aspirations of this essentially ‘free-form’ art were however, dependent on the inherent nature of the material used. What was required was a seamless ‘marriage’ of form, material and space. Homme gothique is the culmination of this aspiration. Merging the figure of a man with these aesthetic ideals about the fusion of form, material, space and architecture into a spiritually uplifting monument, it is perhaps the most complete statement about these aims in González's oeuvre.
‘When an architect of the cathedral conceives one of his magnificent spires,’ González explained, ‘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 architectural requirements, can at the same time idealise that which his imagination and heart inspire in him. The aesthetic geometry which results is only secondary, and the geometry of each stone, so to speak, depends only on the laws of construction and of the quality and resistance of the materials. Only a cathedral spire can indicate a point in the sky where our soul rests in suspension. As in the restlessness of the night, the stars seem to indicate points of hope in the sky, (so too) this motionless spire (of a cathedral) indicates an infinite number of them to us. These points in infinity were the precursors of the new art, “drawing in space” the real problem to be solved is not only wanting to make a work that is harmonious and perfectly balanced. No! – But to achieve this result by the marriage of the material and space, by the union of real forms and imaginary forms, obtained or suggested by fixed points or perforations, and then, according to the natural law of love, to let them blend and to make them inseparable from one another, like body and the spirit’ (ibid., p. 138).
Executed at the height of the Spanish Civil War, a conflict which deeply affected González and prompted some of his strongest sculptural statements, Homme gothique belongs, alongside, L'homme Cactus, Madame Cactus, La grande faucille, and La Montserrat as one of a number of figure sculptures that deliberately refer to his Catalan homeland. Unlike these other works Homme gothique is not a resilient figure of the earth, standing proud, erect and in protest against oppression and aggression, but is an idealised figure that embodies the higher, spiritual aesthetics that González hoped would distinguish the man of the future.

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