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(1924 – 2002), Spain

Eduardo Chillida Biography

Eduardo Chillida was a Basque sculptor famous for his large, curved finger-like iron or steel forms and outdoor pink granite block sculptures. He was also a consummate printmaker, expert in making etchings, lithographs, and woodcuts, and was awarded many prizes.

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Early Life

Initially a professional goalkeeper when living in San Sebastián, Chillida then studied architecture at the University of Madrid (1943—1947) but became interested in art and moved to Paris to set up a sculpture studio, where he learned skills such as clay modelling, mould making, and plaster carving.

Eduardo Chillida Artworks

Early Sculpture

Chillida started with figurative sculpture based on the simplified human form, encouraged by his friendship with the abstract painter and sculptor Pablo Palazuelo, and the Archaic Greek sculptures in the Louvre.

Curved Steel Abstractions

However he soon moved away from the plaster or stone torsos of works such as Recumbent (1949). The artist's projects became much larger and more abstract, and saw him working with forged steel or cast iron after returning to Basque Country in the early 1950s.

A characteristic motif in the public sculpture Chillida methodically explored over the following years involved massive rhythmic and extended linear curves that evoke open hands or claws. These are often made from rust-coloured Corten steel, and the site very carefully chosen. See for example, the gigantic three-part Comb of the Wind (1976), Berlin (2000), and De Musica IV (1999). Sometimes he made concrete versions of these, such as From the Horizon (1956) and Monument to Tolerance (1992).

Other cast-iron works are corners made of heavy slabs, featuring intersecting vertical and horizontal planes, as in Topos V (1986).

Smaller Works

Over the period of 1954—1966 Chillida made 'Anvil of Dreams', a series of small portable sculptures based on the process of hammering in a forge, but incorporating vertical blocks of wood as plinths ('anvils') supporting spatially extended steel forms ('hammers'). Examples include Anvil of Dreams XIII (1962), Anvil of Dreams III (1958), and Anvil of Dreams VIII (1959).

Love of Light

In 1961 Chillida travelled through Greece and Italy with his wife Pilar Belzunce and friend Jacques Dupin, the poet. He loved the Mediterranean light, especially its effect on the surfaces of austere white buildings, and the sculpture of Medardo Rosso.

The impact of this trip can be found in some of Chillida's sculptures that celebrate the glowing and subtly translucent properties of alabaster. Examples include Study for Homage to Kandinsky (1965) and three other prolific series: 'In Praise of Light' (1971), 'In Praise of Architecture' (1974;), 'House of Light' (1977), and 'Unorthodox Architecture' (1978).

Chillida was very friendly with two philosophers—Martin Heidegger and Gaston Bachelard—both very interested in space. Chillida created seven lithographic collages to illustrate Heidegger's essay 'Art and Space', and Bachelard wrote about Chillida's practice, as did the Mexican poet Octavio Paz.

Chamotte Clay Sculptures

Chillida also made intimate chamotte clay forms, often painted on their vertical sides in black copper oxide, the simple geometric forms linked to his many drawings and prints. See for example Oxide G-312 (1995), Untitled (1977), and Continuation III (1966).


Eduardo Chillida has been the subject of both important solo and group exhibitions.

Recent solo exhibitions include Eduardo Chillida, Hauser & Wirth, Somerset (2021); Eduardo Chillida, Echoes, Museo Chillida Leku, San Sebastián (2019); Chillida in the Rijksmuseum Gardens, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2018); Memory, Mind, Matter: The Sculpture of Eduardo Chillida, The Dali Museum, Saint Petersburg, Florida (2017); and Eduardo Chillida 1924—2002, Die Galerie, Frankfurt (2014).

Recent group exhibitions include Zóbel-Chillida: Chemins Croisés, Galerie Mayoral, Paris (2020); Art and Space, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2017); Von Hockney bis Holbein: Die Sammlung Würth in Berlin, Gropius Bau, Berlin (2015); Plastic Surgery: Das Plastische In Der Bildenden Kunst, Kunsthalle Ziegelhütte, Appenzell, Switzerland (2014); Miradas Cruzadas, Centro Cultural de España en Mexico, Mexico City (2012); and 44th Venice Biennale (1990).


Eduardo Chillida's work is collected by several major institutions, including Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Chillida Leku Museum, San Sebastián; Guggenheim Bilbao; Tate Britain; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

John Hurrell | Ocula | 2021

Eduardo Chillida Featured Artworks

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Óxido 13 by Eduardo Chillida contemporary artwork sculpture
Eduardo Chillida Óxido 13, 1978 Chamotte clay and copper oxide
24.5 x 26 x 3.5 cm
Galeria Mayoral Contact Gallery
Begirari I by Eduardo Chillida contemporary artwork sculpture
Eduardo Chillida Begirari I, 1956 Iron and stone
171 x 37 x 49 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire
Gravitación CH-97/GT-41 by Eduardo Chillida contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing
Eduardo Chillida Gravitación CH-97/GT-41, 1997 Paper, ink, threads
26.6 x 39.6 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire
Harri VI (Stone VI) by Eduardo Chillida contemporary artwork sculpture
Eduardo Chillida Harri VI (Stone VI), 1996 Granite
92 x 132 x 115 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire
Lurra G265 by Eduardo Chillida contemporary artwork sculpture
Eduardo Chillida Lurra G265, 1992 Terracotta
16.5 x 22 x 19 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris Contact Gallery
Sans titre by Eduardo Chillida contemporary artwork works on paper, drawing
Eduardo Chillida Sans titre, 1960 Pencil on paper
23.5 x 32 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris Contact Gallery
CH-87/GB-15 by Eduardo Chillida contemporary artwork works on paper
Eduardo Chillida CH-87/GB-15, 1987 Paper, thread
21 x 30 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire
Untitled by Eduardo Chillida contemporary artwork works on paper
Eduardo Chillida Untitled, 1996 Ink on paper
27.8 x 24.4 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire

Eduardo Chillida Recent Exhibitions

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Eduardo Chillida Represented By

Galeria Mayoral contemporary art gallery in Barcelona, Spain Galeria Mayoral Barcelona, Paris
Hauser & Wirth contemporary art gallery in Hong Kong Hauser & Wirth Gstaad, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Menorca, Monte Carlo, New York, Somerset, Southampton, St. Moritz, Zurich

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