Oteiza and Chillida: Dialogue in the 50s and 60s
Organised by the San Telmo Museum, this unprecedented exhibition, open to the public until 2 October, offers a milestone in the history of art by presenting the work of Jorge Oteiza and Eduardo Chillida together for the first time, focusing on the work produced during the 1950s and 1960s, the period when they met.
The exhibition, which has the consensus and collaboration of both artists' legacy institutions, the Jorge Oteiza Museum Foundation (Altzuza, Nafarroa) and Chillida Leku (Hernani, Gipuzkoa), is presented to the public almost twenty years after the death of two key figures in 20th century European sculpture.
The exhibition, curated by Javier González de Durana, sets up a dialogue between their sculptures, focusing on the work produced during the two decades - the 1950s and 1960s - in which Oteiza and Chillida knew each other, had a friendly relationship and each looked at the other's work with attention and interest. The exhibition tour offers a conversation between their aesthetic thoughts and their sculptural creations, revealing Oteiza's paradigmatic metaphors and Chillida's syntagmatic metonymies on an equal footing.
The selection of works has been made from a chronological perspective, beginning in 1948 with two trips -when Oteiza returned to Spain after his long stay in Latin America and Chillida went to Paris with the intention of becoming a sculptor- and concluding in 1969 -with the completion of the statuary of the Arantzazu Sanctuary by Oteiza and the installation of Chillida's first major public work in Europe in front of the Parisian UNESCO building-.
They both worked for the Arantzazu Sanctuary, where they left some of their best works of the first half of the 1950s - geometric abstraction in the doors and tragic existentialism in the statuary - but when they reached their creative peak was from 1955-56, when Oteiza began and completed his spatial investigations that he called "experimental purpose", and Chillida began to "cut iron" to create the peculiar and romantic language close to informalism.
Profoundly different in character and therefore very different as artists, nevertheless, during the 1950s and 1960s they shared interests and creative concerns, participated in cultural projects, had political initiatives in favour of other artists and were enveloped by the spirit of the times, which can be traced in their works with subtle comings and goings from one to the other.
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