Monday, January 16, 2012

Julio Gonzalez, an exceptional artist

The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Barcelona houses an impressive collection of sculptures and paintings by Julio Gonzalez.  Gonzalez was born is Barcelona on September 21, 1876.  At the age of 15, he and his brother, Joan, apprenticed in their father's metal smith workshop.  In the evenings, they both attended the Escuela de Bellas Artes.
In the late, 1890's, he became a regular at Els Quatre Gats, a famous Barcelona cafe, where he first met Pablo Picasso.  In 1900 he and his family moved to Paris, never to return to his home town.   This is where he met Pablo Gargallo, a Spanish sculptor, who was a huge influence in his work.  His brother passed away in 1908 and Julio fell into a deep depression and lived in seclusion.  Picasso and Constantin Brancusi were his few contacts.
In 1918, he worked in the Renault factory at Boulogne-Billancourt and he learned the technique of autogenous welding.  This technique soon changed the way he created his sculptures. 
He produced his first sculptures made from wrought iron.  Many of his pieces were that of the human figure.  It was Julio who taught Picasso metal working in the late 1920's.  And it was Picasso's influence that Julio's works became more and more abstract.  His sculptures became more massive as time went by.
Due to the war, acetylene and oxygen became scarce and he had to abandon his sculptural work.  Instead, he took up drawing and modeling using plasticine and gypsum.
Painting was his first medium before he became involved in his metal working.
In 1937, he contributed some of his work to the Spanish Pavilion at the World's Fair in Paris and Cubism and Abstract Art exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  That same year he moved to a town outside of Paris, Arcuell,  where he died on March 27, 1942.

My husband and I were really drawn to his work.  I can see why he was one of the most exceptional sculptors of the 20th century.  

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