This work is registered in the archives of the Museo Chillida-Leku, under number 1962.008.
Perched at the summit of a granite plinth, the open arms of richly textured iron search skyward, reaching out to occupy the void that Chillida regards as one of the most important elements in his art. Created on an intimate scale, this work nevertheless commands a pronounced sense of gravitas, prefiguring as it does the extraordinary Peine del Viento (Wind Comb) that Chillida completed in San Sebastián over a decade later, and whose majestic, sculpted architecture bears all the hallmarks of his earlier work, such as can be seen in the present lot. Space is crucial to the understanding of Chillida's work and in Yunque de sueños XII, the 'free and fast material' of space passes around and through its curled steel limbs like the circuitous yet graceful flight of a bird. For the artist's friend, philosopher and poet Gaston Bachelard, this is critical to understanding the artist's work: "For me," he once proclaimed, "these works of flying iron are bird-cages, caged birds, cages poised to fly away" (G. Bachelard, quoted in Elogio del Hiero, exh. cat., Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, Valencia, 2002, pp. 62-63).
The void created around a sculptural form was as important for the artist as the physicality of the sculpture itself. "Space?" Chillida once observed, "Sculpture is a function of space. I don't mean the space outside the form, which surrounds the volume and in which the form lives, but the space generated by the form, which lives within it and which is more effective the more unnoticeably it acts. You could compare it to the breath that swells and contracts forms, that opens up their space--inaccessible to and hidden from the outside world--to view. I do not see it as something abstract, but as a reality as solid as the volume that envelops it" (E. Chillida, "Aphorismen" quoted in Chillida, exh. cat., Neuer Berliner Kunstverein Berlin, 1991, p. 118).
In addition to the void, iron has consistently been one of his privileged media. Embarking upon the practice of iron working early in the 1950s, Chillida was returning to his roots: the dark, mineral rich earth of the Basque country. As Gaston Bachelard once wrote "[Chillida] is familiar with the complex soul of iron. He knows that iron has a strange sensitivity" (E. Chillida, quoted in I. Busch, "Eduardo Chillida, Architect of the Void: On the Synthesis of Architecture and Sculpture," Chillida 1948-1998, exh. cat., Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 1998, p. 66). It is this adept fluency with this medium that stands Chillida apart from his forebears including Pablo Gargallo and Julio González who first introduced metallurgy to the sculptural vernacular. Instead of welding iron and steel, Chillida only ever employed traditional wrought metal. As a result his sculpture counterpoints its stark materiality with a lightness of touch, each steel tentacle avoiding blunt intersections in favor of a continuous flow of energy.
This holistic approach to art, encompassing the entirety of its creation, is what distinguishes Chillida's particular language of artistic expression. For Chillida the object and the space it inhabited are intertwined, one inseperable from the other. "Form," he once said, "springs spontaneously from the needs of the space that builds its dwelling like an animal in its shell. Just like this animal, I am also an architect of the void" (E. Chillida, quoted in ibid., p. 62).