Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction


Eduardo Chillida
1924 - 2002
incised with the artist's monogram
fired terracotta
44.7 by 55.8 by 41.7 cm. 17 5/8 by 22 by 16 3/8 in.
Executed in 1984.
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This work is registered in the archives of the Museo Chillida-Leku, Hernani under number 1984.035


Tasende Gallery, La Jolla
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Chicago, Navy Pier, Chicago International Art Exhibition, 1985, p. 249, illustrated
La Jolla, Tasende Gallery, Chillida: Questions and Space, 1986, p. 49, illustrated

Catalogue Note

In a permanent dialogue between the solid and the void, Eduardo Chillida’s sculptural forms depict the artist’s recurring investigations into space and its limits. The present works, Mesa G-18 and Lurra G-31, perfectly embody the artist's career-long exploration of space in poetic and unique form. Executed in terracotta, both works share the same creative process as Chillida's other works in iron and steel, having been through the fire oven to bake the clay they are made from. However, unlike other, rougher materials such as stone, the malleable nature of terracotta allowed the artist to fully immerse himself in his spatial pursuits.

The series of Lurras in particular, named after the Basque word for Earth, is a prime example of Chillida’s use of this medium to explore space and materiality. Guided by intuition and incited by tireless curiosity, Chillida described the unpredictable nature of his artistic approach: “I believe works conceived a priori are born dead… Is it not the decisive step for an artist to be almost always disoriented?” (Eduardo Chillida in conversation with David Brett, in: Circa Art Magazine, No. 42, 1988, p. 28).

Chillida's series of Lurras incarnate the artist’s custom of “experimentation based on repetition and serialisation” (Kosme de Barañano, ‘Geometry and tactual: The sculpture of Eduardo Chillida 1948-1998’, in: Exh. Cat., Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Chillida: 1948-1998, 2000, p. 18). Yet, each individual sculpture is rendered unique through variable perforated designs and alternated methods of burning, which result in an impressive variation of shape and colour. Fired in a wood kiln, the present sculpture sits like a cubical house-tower found in the artist’s native Basque Country, exposing a delicate assortment of ochre tones.

Parallel to these efforts, Chillida additionally pursued a very small series of four terracotta Mesas during his exploration of the medium. The artist had initially designed four steel tables in homage to Luca Paccioli, Alberto Giacometti and Omar Khayyam. The present Mesa is one of those four existing terracotta tables and is inspired by one particular steel table design Chillida had executed in the same year of 1984, titled Architect’s Table. The artist was deeply moved by the notion of emptiness and an attempt to define it visually remained a recurring feature throughout his entire artistic career. These ambitions truly resonate through the spaces and voids of the beautiful terracotta Mesa.   

Chillida’s terracotta designs remained unconcerned with narrative or imagery. Rather, in awareness of the defined space expressed by the terracotta, the vacuums created by the knife-pierced imprints in the present Lurra or the ability to look through the present Mesa’s empty spaces, these two works truly embrace Chillida’s recurring assessment of the value of emptiness within space.

Contemporary Art Day Auction