Lot 18
  • 18

JULIO GONZÁLEZ | Femme dite ‘Les trois plis’

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
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  • Julio González
  • Femme dite ‘Les trois plis’
  • inscribed J. Gonzalez © and numbered 2/2
  • bronze
  • height (not including base): 120cm.
  • 47 1/4 in.
  • Executed in iron circa 1931-32 and cast in bronze at a later date in a numbered edition of 2 plus 4 casts marked 0, 00, EA and HC. This example was cast in 1984.


Private Collection, Paris (acquired by 1987) Galeria Theo, Madrid

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1989


Hans Curjel, 'Julio González', in Werk, Winterthur, no. 3, March 1970, fig. 2, iron version illustrated p. 206 (as dating from circa 1931-34) Vicente Aguilera Cerni, Julio, Joan, Roberta González - Itinerario de una dinastia, Barcelona, 1973, no. 438, iron version illustrated p. 337

Josephine Withers, Julio González, Sculpture in Iron, New York, 1978, no. 52, the iron version listed p. 161

Werner Schnell, 'Zeichen als bildhauerisches Prinzip. Julio González: Plastiken, Zeichnungen, Kunstgewerbe', in Kunstforum International, vol. 66, Cologne, October 1983, the iron version illustrated p. 152

Selezione: sculture e disegni, Lugano, 1984, no. 9, another cast illustrated

Jörn Merkert, Julio González. Catalogue raisonné des sculptures, Milan, 1987, no. 130, iron version illustrated and the present cast listed p. 121

Catalogue Note

Dating from the early 1930s, Femme dite ‘Les trois plis’ belongs to a key transitional period in González’s career. He had begun working with Picasso in 1928 and although initially their relationship was one of artist and craftsman, with González providing the technical expertise Picasso needed to begin working in metal, their collaboration would prove transformative for González. It was his work with Picasso, and particularly in translating the younger artist’s drawings into three-dimensional objects, that would lead González to his vision of sculpture as ‘drawing in space’ and to the creation of a remarkable body of work.   In Femme dite ‘Les trois plis’ it is possible to trace the influence of Picasso’s metal sculptures, but it has a raw simplicity and a clever juxtaposition of planes that belong to González alone. The title seems to refer to its literal making; the three folds corresponding both to the welds where the metal of main body has been manipulated and the three vertical ‘folds’ of metal extending up from the base that might go as far as to suggest the material of a skirt. The human form – the central subject of the artist’s œuvre – is abstracted with only small elements such as the curled shape at the top offering an identifying mark. Margit Rowell writes that while Picasso's sculptures always clearly read as figures, 'González's sculpture always solicits us first as an abstract structure which only with time can be read as an anthropomorphic figure' (M. Rowell, 'Julio González: The birth of modern iron sculpture', in J. Merkert, op. cit., p. 336).

The figure of Femme dite ‘Les trois plis’ seems to occupy a liminal place between the two-dimensionality of her flat planes and the implied spaces that give her structural depth. Penelope Curtis acknowledges the importance of the artist’s early reliefs to his mature practice, noting that although: ‘this work is generally free-standing and basically three-dimensional, the viewer often has difficulty in defining its limits optically. It slips and vacillates; how much depth it has, and whether it inclines towards or away from us, is ambiguous’ (P. Curtis, ‘Julio González: Fact and Fiction’, in Julio González. Sculptures & Drawings (exhibition catalogue), The South Bank Centre, London,1990, p. 13). In this respect works such as Femme dite ‘Les trois plis’ actually anticipate Picasso’s folded metal works of the 1960s and indicate the immense variety and formal diversity of González’s pioneering approach to sculpture.