Lot 2
  • 2

Eduardo Chillida

bidding is closed


  • Eduardo Chillida
  • Estela a José Antonio de Aguirre
  • cast iron
  • 98.5 by 68.6 by 16cm., 38¾ by 27 by 6¼in.


Galerie Maeght, Paris
Galerie Schmela, Düsseldorf
Private Collection (acquired in 1982)
Sale: Christie’s, London, 8th February 2001, lot 17
Private Collection, Switzerland (acquired at the above sale; sold: Sotheby’s, London, 10th February 2010, lot 59)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Pittsburgh, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Chillida, 1979-80, no. 280, illustrated in the catalogue
Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Eduardo Chillida, Eine Retrospektive, 1993, no. 44, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Bilbao, Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa, Homenaje a Chillida, 2006, n.n., illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1978, Estela a José Antonio de Aguirre is an important homage to the great Basque Nationalist. Aguirre was the first president of the Basque National Party and played a critical role in organising the Basque militia to fight for the Republic during the Spanish Civil War. When in 1951 Chillida returned from Paris to Hernani in his native Basque Country, he was inspired by these surroundings and by the ancient traditions of the region and began experimenting with iron, initially studying under one of the village blacksmiths.

Chillida’s first work in iron was another monolith – Ilarik, the work’s title means funeral stele in Basque – and that association is revisited in the present work. The totemic form of a stele is central to Chillida’s œuvre and is one that he often used for civic works, as in his memorial for Sir Alexander Fleming which was one of the first public commissions he undertook on returning to Spain in the 1950s. Over twenty years later he returned to the stele in the present work, engaging the form as part of a civic message concerned with the national identity of the Basque region.

In Estela a José Antonio de Aguirre Chillida marks the traditional tablet form with a complex arrangement of interlocking lines that function both as an abstract allusion to the Basque flag – and by extension his lost hero – and part of his ongoing exploration of the abstract language of opposites. The fractured solid and the deeply incised lines create a tension between the solid mass of the structure and the surrounding space as Chillida ‘transforms the empty spaces defined by the iron into a materiality that is full of strength’ (Ina Busch in Chillida 1948-1998 (exhibition catalogue), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 1998, p. 64).