Eduardo Chillida


Eduardo Chillida

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction


Eduardo Chillida
1924 - 2002
inscribed with the artist's monogram and numbered 3/3
53 by 150 by 44cm.
20 7/8 by 59 by 17 1/3 in.
Executed in 1957, this work is number 3 from an edition of 3, plus 1 artist's proof.
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0/3 Museo Chillida-Leku, Guipuzcoa
1/3 Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966
2/3 Musée de Grenoble


Galería Theo, Madrid
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1974


London, McRoberts and Tunnard Gallery, Eduardo Chillida, 1965, no. 8, illustrated
Madrid, Galería Theo, Presencias de nuestro tiempo, 1973, p. 19, illustrated
Madrid, Galería Theo, Arte de nuestro tiempo, 1974, p. 21, illustrated
Caracas, Museo de Bellas Artes, De Picasso a nuestros días. Vanguardia espagñola del siglo XX, 1980
Gijón, Palacio Revillagigedo, Chillida, 1991, no. 152, illustrated in colour


Exhibition Catalogue, Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Eduardo Chillida, 1969, no. 18, illustration of another version
Exhibition Catalogue, Zurich, Kunsthaus Zürich, Eduardo Chillida, 1969, no. 3, illustration of another version
Exhibition Catalogue, Pittsburgh, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Chillida, 1980, p. 48, no. 49, illustration of another version
Claude Esteban, Chillida, Paris 1971, no. 7 illustration of another version
Exhibition Catalogue, Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle, Eduardo Chillida, 1993, no. 11, illustration of another version
Exhibition Catalogue, Valencia, IVAM Centre, Eduardo Chillida: Elogio del Hierro, 1998, pp. 64-65, illustration of another version in colour
Exhibition Catalogue, Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Chillida, 1999, p. 135, no. 11, illustration of another version in colour

Catalogue Note

“This year he makes Ikaraundi drawing the vibrations of the line in planes in space: there is no framework or spatial structure, the form is no more than a force fixed in the path of its movement”

James Manuel Bonet in: Exhibition Catalogue, Valencia, IVAM Centre, Eduardo Chillida: Elogio del Hierro, 1998, p. 181.

Wrought in seeming weightless waves, cadent rhythms and trembling planes of solid bronze, Ikaraundi is universally considered a masterpiece from Eduardo Chillida’s early career. With all other examples notably housed in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museé de Grenoble; and the Museum Chillida-Leku, the present work stands as the last from this astounding corpus to remain in private hands. Cast in bronze after an iron proof, a further example that boasts a distinguished museum pedigree in its long-term loan to the Fondation Beyeler, Basel, Ikaraundi landmarks an important turning point in the trajectory of Chillida’s astounding sculptural vision.

Executed in 1957, this magnificent work denotes the very year in which Chillida returned to his native San Sebastian and crucially set up his metalworking forge amidst the rich legacy of blacksmithing culturally entrenched within the Basque region of Hernani. Combining the deepest roots of tradition marked by the stamp of modern industry with an utterly unprecedented spatial dialogue. Ikaraundi elegantly defies the heavy materiality of bronze, delivering an uncanny lightness that masterfully suspends sweeping geometric planarities in a lyrically rising kinetic tension. Embodying a prominent feature in all major retrospective exhibitions of the artist’s career, Ikaraundi is undoubtedly the standout work from this pivotal moment in Chillida’s ouevre.

With a title that translates from Euskara as Great Trembling and a formality that contours a vibrating and calligraphic linearity in solid metal, Ikaraundi powerfully epitomises Chillida’s burgeoning sculptural practice. Taking up a dialogue pioneered by the Spanish sculptor Julio Gonzalez (1876-1942), who laid the foundations for elevating the use of iron as a fine art material, Chillida’s work of mid-late 1950s is characterised by a physical and metaphysical dialogue with the forge itself. Alongside Ikaraundi (Great Trembling), works such as Tximista (Lighting), 1957; Hierros de temblor III (Trembling Iron), 1957; Yunques de sueños (Anvil of Dreams), 1958; and Rumor de limites (Mumur of Limits), 1958, directly communicate the alchemical poetics of fire, action and material via his own distinctly Basque sculptural calligraphy. As Kosme de Barañano outlines, “Chillida demonstrates that a sculpture also needs an internal fire to communicate a music of its own and to create its space. A clear example is the work Ikaraundi from 1957, a broken line like a musical score that comes out of the fire. Bach’s chords are sculpted here on the well-tuned iron. Its presence is like that of Giacometti’s Femme égorga, in the surrealist sculpture of 1932-33. Chillida knows that space is created by action, and the action, by a dynamic force that constructs it. Sculpture is the print or trace” (Kosme de Barañano, ‘ Geometry and tatual: The Sculpture of Eduardo Chillida 1948-1998’, Exhibition Catalogue, Madrid, Museo Nacional Centre de Arte Reina Sofia, Chillida 1948-1998, 1999, p. 46). 

In reaction against much of his training in Paris during the early 1950s, Chillida forged a sculptural dialect entirely removed from figurative referentiality via a direct inquiry into the aesthetics of space itself. By 1957 this dialect had found the full force of mature expression. As James Johnson Sweeney has observed with particular reference to the present work, during these formative years Chillida identified “an idiom peculiarly suitable to his temperament, perhaps not only to his personal temperament but even to the Spanish temperament: an expression of the contrast between extremes… we see it in Ikaraundi (Great Trembling) of 1957, for example, and in the work following it for the next three years. We see him taking a single piece of metal, or later a bar of metal, cutting it and bending it in such a way that the flow of form is unbroken and the unity of the organization is emphasised by contrast between the resultant variety of shapes and our consciousness of the single unbroken piece from which they come” (James Johnson Sweeney, cited in: Exhibition Catalogue, Valencia, IVAM Centre, Eduardo Chillida: Elogio del Hierro, 1998, pp. 197-8). Hammered, wrought, carved and contorted from a single metal strip, the profusion of alternating angles and protruding struts elicits a harmonic reading that imparts a monumental yet lyrically abstract language for the silence of the void. The complex intertwining of contorted metal here bestows solid form to an energy lying dormant within ostensibly empty space.

Aligned with the artist's formative architectural training in Madrid during the mid 1940s, Chillida's emphatic inclination for industrial material and colossal three-dimensions readily channelled a dialectic sculptural attitude towards space and air – the real and essential fabric of Chillida's work. As explained by the artist: "Sculpture is a function of space. I don’t mean the space outside the form, which surrounds the volume and in which the forms live, but the space generated by the forms, which lives within them and which is more effective the more unnoticeably it acts. You could compare it to the breath that swells and contracts forms, that opens up their space ... to view. I do not see it as something abstract, but a reality as solid as the volume that envelopes it" (the artist in: Exhibition Catalogue, Madrid, Museo Nacional Centre de Arte Reina Sofia, Chillida 1948-1998, 1999, p. 66). Carola Gideon-Welcker draws out this quality in the present work, describing Ikaraundi as “the fortissimo of a vibration that rises from some deep reservoir in the earth and goes on vibrating rhythmical organised movement in space” (Carola Giedon-Welcker, ‘Eduardo Chillida. Sculpture, Drawings, Graphic Work’, Exhibition Catalogue, IVAM Centire, Op. cit., p. 201). In his own distinctive sculptural hand-writing, Chillida draws an evocation of sonorous pauses and charged tremulous spacings akin to those of musical composition. As previously alluded to in Baranano’s thoughts on Ikaurandi, where Chillida composes with spatial emptiness and limit, the metre and rhythm of his sculptural scaffold analogously mirrors the musician as architect of time, sound, and most importantly silence. The interdispersion of harmonic spatial accents and dissonant inflections adroitly orchestrates silence and calls forth a charged communion between unbounded space and raw material: as Chillida once pointed out, "there is an occult communication between everything near" (the artist cited in: Exhibition Catalogue, Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute of Art, Chillida, 1979, p. 21).

Interestingly Chillida’s work has played a crucial role for some of the profoundest thoughts explicated on space in the history of twentieth century art theory. The meeting of Chillida with the great existential philosopher Martin Heidegger in 1968 incited a significant dialogue that would form the central thesis behind Die Kunst und der Raum – a short but important work which posed a conception of space, not as scientific volume or as something to be technologically conquered, but as an elemental entity to be uncovered and revealed by embodied relationality. Heidegger comments on sculpture: “The interaction of art and space would have to be considered on the basis of experience of place and environment. Art as sculpture: not taking possession of space… Sculpture would be the embodying of places which, opening an environment and maintaining it, gather about them a freeness which grants an abiding presence to each thing and a dwelling to man amidst these things” (Martin Heidegger, ‘Die Kunst und der Raum’, in: Exhibition Catalogue, Valencia, IVAM Centre, Eduardo Chillida: Elogio del Hierro, 1998, p. 205).

With Ikaraundi, the magnificently elegant abstract movements and twisting turns of a once planar metal slab represent the dexterous support lines that determine and generate space as the very conditions for Chillida’s sculpture. Ranking among the most important early works of Chillida’s career and denoting a key talking point in almost every monograph ever penned on the artist, Ikaraundi truly underpins the very foundations of Chillida’s ground-breaking innovation in the history twentieth-century sculpture.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction