Eduardo Chillida is unquestionably the most outstanding Spanish sculptor of the second half of the twentieth century. Goalkeeper for the Real Sociedad football team, he had to abandon his sporting career due to a knee injury. At the age of nineteen he began to study architecture in Madrid, but later abandoned his studies to devote himself to sculpture and drawing, attending classes at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid.
In 1948, he moved to Paris where he began his artistic career and where he met Pablo Palazuelo. He would later return to San Sebastian and over the years he would work at Manuel Illarramendi’s forge in Hernani. This experience was pivotal, as it gave him the opportunity to discover the use of iron and the plasticity of this material.
His first works were figurative, but he soon began to investigate the abstract, turning the void into an essential element of his work in order to explore the limits of space.
Iron was one of the main materials he used, but he also worked with many others such as concrete, Corten steel, wood, alabaster, terracotta and paper, with which he developed an acclaimed series of graphic works.
Monumental sculpture was one of his main disciplines. Many of these works have become a symbol of the city that hosts them, such as “The Comb of the Wind” in San Sebastián or “In Praise of the Horizon” in Gijón. His other monumental works include “Berlin” for the German Chancellery in Berlin, “In Praise of Water” for the Creuta del Coll park in Barcelona, “Goethe’s House” in Frankfurt, “Comb of the Wind IV” for the UNESCO headquarters building in Paris and “Around the Void V” for the World Bank headquarters in Washington.
Chillida has always felt very attached to his homeland, the Basque Country. As he said, “here, in my Basque Country, I feel in my place, like a tree that is adapted to its territory, to its terrain, but with its arms open to everyone “. However, his first exhibition in his hometown, San Sebastián, did not take place until 1992 at the Palacio Real de Miramar, when the artist was 68 years old.
But if there was one driving force behind Chillida’s work, it was curiosity and his desire for knowledge. As he said, “what I know how to do I’ve already done, so I always have to do what I don’t know how to do “2.
The many prizes and awards he received include the Grand International Prize at the XIX Venice Biennale (1958), the Kandinsky Prize (1960), the Carnagie Prize for Sculpture in Pittsburgh (1964), the Ricardo Wolf Prize awarded by the Parliament of Israel (1985), the Prince of Asturias Prize for the Arts (1987), the Imperial Prize in Japan (1991) and the Jack Goldhill Prize for Sculpture awarded by the Royal Academy of Arts in London (1996).
In 2000, the Chillida Leku museum was opened to the public in the Zabalaga farmhouse, his old studio. The Museum is housed in a traditional Basque building in which there is an extraordinary dialogue between Chillida’s works and the environment in which many of them were created.
The Hortensia Herrero collection includes two important Chillida sculptures: one made in clay and one in bronze. The latter is one of the few works that Chillida produced in series, an edition of three copies, one of which belongs to the collection of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna Ca Pesaro in Venice. This sculpture has been loaned by Hortensia Herrero to important exhibitions in France and Germany.