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‘Eduardo Chillida’ at Hauser & Wirth pays homage to the Basque sculptor who bent the elements to his whim.


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Fans of the monumental, minimalist sculptures by the likes of Richard Serra and Donald Judd would be remiss in ignoring the work of Eduardo Chillida. The foremost of Spain’s sculptors in the 20th century, Chillida, who hailed from the Basque region, was deeply connected to his home’s industrial heritage, particularly in the town of Hernani, where he established a foundry that would produce the iron and steel so central to his practice. Chillida went to Madrid to study architecture, and his art was, ultimately, strongly influenced by both the spatial principles he learned there and the material techniques he absorbed watching his local blacksmith. The result: geometric sculptures that, through experiments with line and angles, Chillida used to explore notions of time and how shapes develop via their interactions with space.

But Chillida wasn’t only a master manipulator of notoriously difficult materials; while he was working with steel and iron, he also used paper, clay, and stone to make engravings, collage, drawings and smaller-scale sculptures, all still part of his never-ending experimentation with concept and form. Those rarely displayed works are the focus of a very welcome stateside Chillida exhibition at Hauser & Wirth (visitors to San Sebastian, Spain would do well to head down the road to Hernani, where his bigger sculptures are scattered about the verdant grounds of the Museo Chillida Leku). Visitors will see the lesser-known variety of the artist’s work, from his light and layered suspended cut-paper works from the ‘Gravitaciones’ series to his ‘Dibujos de Mano’ contour drawings to his career-wise homages, works dedicated to other artists ranging from Joan Miro and Constantin Brancusi to Bach and Vivaldi. ​​​​​​​Through July 27; 32 E. 69th St.


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