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Picasso and the

Age ofIron Curated by Carmen Gimenez Essays by

l

Dore Ashton and Francisco Calvo

24 reproductions of

art

works by Pablo

Serraller

Picasso, Julio Gonzalez,

Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti, and David Smith 1

Pablo Picasso arrived

1

6 text figures

many

at

of his greatest breakthroughs in

the context of his association with other artists, such as his Catalan compatriot Julio Gonzalez.

During

a brief collaboration be-

ginning in 1928, they created astonishing sculptures in which

they used iron as a draftsman uses line

would be termed "drawing art

in space"),

work

and— for

the

first

time in

turn became a reference point for American

in

sculptors Alexander Calder and the ideas of

who

assimilated

United

art in the

States.

At the same

time, Swiss

Alberto Giacometti employed the physically solid and

durable

medium

realms of

human

of iron to explore the elusive and immaterial

psychology.

This book, published the

David Smith,

European Modernism and forged the foundation for

new Modern

artist

at

development that

history— space was given the same consideration as matter.

Their

a

(a

in

conjunction with a major exhibition

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

in

New

York

brings together an impeccable selection of sculptures artists

from many of the

greatest public

by

all

States.

paintings and drawings

by Picasso, whose audacious and

other

artists

took

five

and private collections

Europe and the United

vision was, in this case, as with

City,

in

Also included are several related vital

Cubism, the source from which

their inspiration.

This rich publication includes an extensive essay by the distinguished art historian Dore Ashton,

who

charts the course of


Digitized by the Internet Archive in

Metropolitan

2012 with funding from

New

York Library Council

-

METRO

http://archive.org/details/pifironOOgimn


This presentation has been organized

by the

Solomon and

is

R.

Guggenheim Museum

supported by an indemnity

from the Federal Council

on the Arts and the Humanities.

Air transportation has been provided by Delta Air Lines, Inc.


Picasso and the

Age ofIron Curated

by

Carmen Gimenez

Essays

by

Dore Ashton Francisco Calvo Serraller

March 19-May

16,

1993

GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM


Catalogue

Exhibition Curated by

Under

Carmen Gimenez

Carmen Gimenez

With

the collaboration

the direction

of

Coordination

of

M. Dolores Jimenez-Bianco

Dore Ashton Francisco Calvo Serraller

Editorial

General coordination

Anthony Calnek

Martina Rosa Schneider

Laura Morris Jennifer

Coordination in

New

Knox

York

Stephen Robert Frankel

Carole Perry

Joanne Chan

Design

Essicka Kimberly

Juan Ariho

Installation design

Translations

Sophie Hawkes

Juan Ariho

Alfred

Mac Adam

Dwight Porter Stephen

Sartarelli

Production

Ediciones El Viso Santiago Saavedra Lola

Cover: Pablo Picasso, Head of a Man, 1930. Musee Picasso, Paris

Š

The Solomon

R.

Guggenheim Foundation,

New

York, 1993

All rights reserved

ISBN: 0-89207-103-6 (hardcover)

ISKN: 0-89207-104-4 (softcover) I).

M-675

.:

I

(-1993

Published by the

107

1

New

Guggenheim Museum

Avenue York, New York 10128

Fifth

Hardcover edition distributed by K1//11I] International Publications, Inc.

300 Park Avenue South,

Printed

in

Spain

New

York,

New

York 10010

Gomez

de Aranda


Thomas Krens Preface

It

would be impossible

Picasso,

whose

to

imagine twentieth-century

but also in sculpture,

is

felt

as this exhibition

only one of five great

artists

not only in painting and the graphic

and catalogue demonstrate.

whose work, taken

Iron," the period situated historically in the

wars,

without Pablo

changed the course of visual

lifelong creative invention repeatedly

thinking. His defining influence

art history

arts

Yet Picasso was

together, comprises the "Age

of

tumultuous years between the two world

and geographically between Europe and America. In the present exhibition,

select sculptures

by Picasso, Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti, Julio Gonzalez,

and David Smith

formal dialogue with each other— and with

are placed in a rare

Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum. Picasso developed

with other

artists,

his greatest ideas in the context

most famously

Another such encounter, 1931,

many of

also

(in the case

of

his association

of Cubism) with Georges Braque.

of groundbreaking importance, occurred from 1928

to

during his collaboration with his Catalan compatriot Gonzalez; together they

developed the concept of "drawing in space." Picasso's and Gonzalez's work in turn

became

a reference

point for American sculptors Calder and Smith

ed the ideas of European

approaches to the dations for a

Modernism

medium of iron

new Modern

in

and around

sculpture, Calder

art in the

United

States.

mental space.

human

they assimilat-

Forging innovative

and Smith helped

lay the foun-

At the same time, Swiss

Giacometti employed the physically solid and durable the elusive and immaterial realms of

Paris.

as

medium

artist

in order to explore

psychology, equating sculpture and


Calder, Giacometti, Gonzalez, Picasso, and Smith shared

Hon

the ancient, mythical tradition ol

wiili

tangible dynamics oi "drawing in space."

like) state into

as

space

is

from the earth

ores

mental process

are

sculpture thai envelops

elasti(

and ephemeral.

In

Then

sculpture

transformed by

air.

a

iron sculpture

Iron, finally,

dialectic

is

passionate fascina

modern,

well as the

.is

relies

fire

a

on an

through

a

as resistant

essential, ele-

liquid (water-

and enduring

where material and space become

equal, these sculptural objects are as irredudbly unique as they are part ol the fabric ol

our environment. Wright's

Guggenheim Museum can be described

the sinuous line ol the spiral creates an interior ol active space yielding at to the sky

and

live great

artists

their

work

a

universal cosmos.

many

The

museum

museum

Guggenheim introduced

and

1974),

Gonzalez

Smith (1969); of course, the Guggenheim's permanent collection

And

so

it

is

litting that

on

this

project, the art

the designer Juan theil

who

the

installation.

families,

also

We

are

ol

historians

Anno,

Guggenheim should bring

and

one of the

together works by

together wrote one vital chapter in art history.

Carmen Gimene/, Curator

to

is

(1983),

holdings ol the work oi Picasso.

these five greal artists

go

dome

goers through landmark retrospective exhibi-

tions devoted to Calder (1964), Giacometti (ts)ss

richest in us

its

has played host to works by these

tunes ewer the past decades. The

to generations ol

terms—

in similar sculptural

Dore Ashton and Francisco Calvo

most grateful

which allowed the realization

believe, truly represents the visual

and

thanks

Twentieth-Century Art, and her collaborators

for the rigor ol all

My

oi

their selection for the essential

Picasso

historic

and

drama

the

and the

Serraller

visual poetry

cooperation of the

Age of Iron. The

ol the

"Age

and

ol Iron."

of

artists'

result,

1


Carmen Gimenez

Acknowledgments

Picasso

and

the

Age of Iron has been

number of people thank the

artists'

whom

to

families

realized

we must

and

heirs

through the generous cooperation of

express our deepest gratitude. First,

who

aided our project.

we wish

a

to

The children and grand-

children of Pablo Picasso— in particular Bernard Ruiz Picasso, Marina Picasso,

Paloma Picasso-Lopez and Rafael Lopez-Cambil, and Maya Ruiz Picasso de

Widmaier— have been

a great

help to

us.

The

essential

works of

art that

they have

entrusted to the exhibition as well as their invaluable advice and information have

been

crucial.

Carmen Martinez and Viviane Gnmminger

of important works by Julio Gonzalez and also with artist's

personal archive.

We

consistent, generous support for

sincerely appreciate Mary,

and

tireless efforts,

collaborated with the loan

vital

documentation from the

Howard, and Holton Rower's

which

testify to their

deep esteem

and knowledge of Alexander Calder's oeuvre. Candida Smith offered an enthusi-

astic

response to the exhibition, and, together with Peter Stevens and Rebecca Smith,

actively participated in the various phases

of

its

development and entrusted

to

it

an

important group of works by David Smith. Through their significant loans and counsel, the

We

artists'

thank

families have allowed the exhibition to be realized.

all

of the participating private

collectors, including those

who

chose to remain anonymous, for their invaluable loans that contribute so greatly to the success of the show; Beyeler, Dr.

We

we would

and Mrs. Arthur

E.

especially like to

acknowledge Ernst and Hildy

Kahn, and Jan Krugier and

received generous loans

Tzila Krugier.

from each and every one of the participating


We

museums. ticular:

in

would

like to

recognize our debt to the following institutions, in par-

Europe, to the Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence; Alberto Gia-

cometti Foundation, Zurich; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; the Estate of

Hans Hartung;

Institute Valenciano de Arte

Kunsthaus Zurich; Kunstmuseum Louisiana

Basel;

Moderno, rVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez;

Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg;

Museum, Humlebaek; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Moderna Museet,

Stockholm; Musee national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Picasso, Paris; Tate Gallery,

Museum and

New

London; and,

in the United States, to the

Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.,

New

York.

We

Dr. Christoph Brockhaus,

Felix

Art,

Whitney Museum of

are especially grateful for the help

and curators, among them Carmen Alborch,

Hirshhorn

The Museum of Modern

York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and

American Art,

Musee

Paris;

of many directors

Baumann, Dominique Bozo,

T

Magdalena Dabrowski, James

Demetrion, Dieter

Koepplin, Steingrim Laursen, Brigitte Leal, Franz Meyer, Richard Oldenburg, Earl A. Powell

III,

Jean-Louis Prat, Gerard Regnier, Cora Rosevear, David Ross, Margit

Rowell, Philip Rylands,

Mark

Scheps, Katharina Schmidt, Helene Seckel, Nicholas

Serota, Bjorn Springfeldt, Vicente Todoli, Kirk Varnedoe,

We

would

our gratitude

also like to express

and Germain

to a great

Viatte.

many people who made

contributions through their patient research and their answers to countless questions.

Among them

are

Douglas Baxter,

beginning; David McK.ee,

who

who

supported our undertaking from the

afforded his great knowledge of Smith's work and

spared no efforts toward our project's success; Joan Washburn, her generosity towards the exhibition; Jacques their help

and resources with regard

Heiner Bastian, Evelyne

Ferlay,

to the

Dupin and

who

Lisa Palmer,

always showed

who

proffered

work of Giacometti; and Daniel Abadie,

Alvin Lane, Claudia Neugebauer, and Catherine

Thieck. In addition,

we wish

to

thank Juan Ariho,

exhibition, and Santiago Saavedra,

who

who

designed the catalogue and

oversaw the various phases of the produc-

tion of this publication, which exists as a result of his enthusiasm

and constant

efforts.

We

are greatly indebted to Francisco

Calvo

Serraller, for his

the concept of the exhibition and his catalogue essay; and to

contribution to

Dore Ashton,

for not

only her illuminating essay but also her irreplaceable ideas and advice for the show's

development.


We

would

members who

like to

recognize

fulfilled the

some of

demands of the

many Guggenheim Museum

the

project. In

staff

Madrid, M. Dolores Jimenez-

Bianco and Martina Schneider were essential to the development and coordination

of both the exhibition and the catalogue. In

New

York, the support of

Thomas

Krens, Director; Michael Govan, Deputy Director; Gail Harrity, Deputy Director,

Finance and Administration; Maryann Jordan, Director of External Affairs; Paul

Schwartzbaum, Assistant Director for Technical Services and Chief Conservator; and Lisa

Dennison, Curator of Collections, was invaluable

Perry, Assistant to the Curator;

to the exhibition.

Joanne Chan, former Assistant

Carole

to the Curator;

and

Essicka Kimberly, former Administrative Assistant, contributed throughout different

periods of the exhibition's development.

Amy

Husten, Manager of Budget and

Planning, coordinated financial matters, and Lynne Addison, Associate Registrar, Exhibitions, handled the complex transportation arrangements.

Pamela

Myers, Administrator for Exhibitions and Programming, oversaw

L.

the exhibition's installation and

Manager of

Installation

Services; Laura

its

many

and Collection

technical requirements. Scott

Services; Peter Read,

Wixon,

Manager of Fabrication

Antonow, Senior Lighting Technician; and AH Hocek,

Architect,

directed various aspects of the exhibition's production and installation. For their efforts,

we would

also like to

thank the technical team that worked on the mount-

ing of the exhibition.

To

um

all

of those contributing to the success of Picasso and

staff as well as outside participants,

we wish

to

the

Age of Iron, muse-

convey our sincere gratitude.


Paloma Picasso-Lopez and Rafael Lopez-Cambil

Lenders to the Exhibition

Mr. and Mrs. Orin Raphael, Oakmont, Pennsylvania Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson

Denise and Andrew Saul

Dr. Walter A. Bechtler, Zollikon

Barbara and Eugene Schwartz,

New York Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York The Brooklyn Museum,

Tate Gallery,

Fondation Marguerite

et

Aime Maeght,

London

The Weatherspoon Art

Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France

The Frederick

Galerie Beyeler, Basel

R.

Geneva

Whitney Museum of American

New York Estate of Julio Gonzalez, Paris

of Hans Hartung, France

Museum and

Sculpture Garden,

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Mrs. Ruth Horwich, Chicago Instituto Valenciano de Arte

Moderno,

IVAM Centre

Julio Gonzalez, Generalitat Valenciana, Valencia

Dr. and Mrs. Arthur E. E.

Kahn

W. Komfeld, Bern

Kunsthalle Bielefeld,

Germany

Kunsthaus Zurich

Kunstmuseum

Basel

Kunstmuseum Winterthur Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg Mr. and Mrs. Samuel H. Lindenbaum Louisiana

Marx

Museum, Humlebaek

Collection, Berlin

Moderna Museet, Stockholm Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute Utica,

Museum

of Art,

New York

Musee de Grenoble Musee national

d'art

moderne,

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Musee

Picasso, Paris

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina

Museum

Sofia,

Madrid

Ludwig, Cologne

The Museum of Modern

Art,

New York

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

New

Orleans

Philadelphia

Greensboro

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

Mr. John Githens and Ms. Ingeborg ten Haeff,

Hirshhorn

at

Weisman Art Museum,

Alberto Giacometti Foundation, Zurich

Estate

Gallery,

University of North Carolina

Galerie Artcurial, Paris

Galerie Jan Krugier,

New York

Candida and Rebecca Smith

Museum of Art Museum of Art

Bernard Ruiz Picasso, Paris Collection Marina Picasso, Galerie Jan Krugier, Geneva

Anonymous

lenders

Art,

New York


Contents

Carmen Gimenez Introduction

13

Dore Ashton

The Forging of New Philosophical Armatures: Sculpture Between the Wars and Ever Since

19

Francisco Calvo Serraller

Vulcan's Constellation

65

Catalogue

99

to the

Exhibition

M. Dolores Jimenez-Bianco Chronology

Anthology of Writings by the

255

Artists

281

Biographies of the Artists

305

Bibliography

319


Carmen Gimenez Introduction

"Within

who

is

Gonzalez stands alone, the

this century, then, Julio

both modern and

Spanish sculptor had his

first

major American exhibition. "Modern he

He

in space.

his lasting theme,

and

when they seem

anthropo-kinetic.

And

forms are

vital,

tends to be proud,

his works,

free, energetic, eliciting

York, sculptor David Smith, 1930s in

local artists

and

the father of

all

who had

John Graham's

Roberta, both to

tell

artist

is

a

humanist, least

firstly,

is

because

because

man

is

anthropomorphic, remain

secondly, because the kind of kinesis he imputes to

man

not pity or recoil but admiration."

At the time of that Gonzalez exhibition

in the

blend of an

humanist," wrote Leo Steinberg in 1956, when the

a

open processes

his

rare

first

at the

Museum

seen the Spanish

of Modern Art,

artist's

New

metal sculpture

collection, wrote a letter to Gonzalez's daughter

her of the impact that her father's exhibition was having on

to express his conviction that

Gonzalez would be remembered "as

iron sculpture of this century."

cuss the critical merits of such an emphatic

While

this

judgment

true reflection of Gonzalez's importance to Smith's

is

not the place to

as Smith's,

it

is

dis-

certainly a

own subsequent development.

In any event, even allowing for the slow process of critical recognition of the value

of Gonzalez's

late

works,

it is

quite surprising that, until now, there has not been an

exhibition examining their historical and aesthetic context in order to fully reveal the contribution of those works to twentieth-century sculpture. Even

given the almost tiresomely reiterated insistence <

Pablo Picasso's Figure as

a monument

to

(fall 1928),

proposed by the

Guillaume Apollinaire.

on the

more

startling,

close relationship between

artist

Gonzalez and Smith,

is

that there has never been a specific exhibition

making man-

13


ifest

not only those two

artists'

formal affinities but also their contrasting attitudes

and world views, through which one addressed the this as well as other reasons,

I

believe that

would be welcomed, although

a

show

yield a strictly correct

sacred, the other the profane. For

an exhibition dealing with these two

restricted to these

issues

alone would only

artists

academic approach. Without the tutelary presence of Picasso,

such an exhibition would not only lack an essential historical context, but, more important, would not communicate the dessiner

dans

I'espace

all

strength of iron sculpture as

(drawing in space), to borrow the much-quoted description used

by Gonzalez in one of

Almost

full dialectical

his writings.

the experts

who

have studied the birth and development of this

type of iron sculpture agree that the original conception

came from

Picasso and rec-

ognize the importance of Gonzalez and Smith in creatively exploiting

syntax and

its

vocabulary. Therefore, from the perspective of a strictly historical reconstruction,

an exhibition based solely on the iron sculpture of these three great

believe that

graphic terms. However, years

and Smith, would have been well

Picasso, Gonzalez,

artists,

on the

I,

and everyone

complex aspects and of

would have

who

else

justified

in historio-

has worked over the

and

last several

Age of

Iron, feel

resulted in an oversimplification, devoid

of those

project presented here

that such a restriction

sculptors

I

under the

title Picasso

surely necessary to a full understanding

the

of the work of the three

their significance within twentieth-century sculpture.

The exhibition ranges from about

1925 to 1950,

encompassing what

in art his-

tory has been called the dramatic high point of the 1930s: the crisis of the avantgarde. In the 1930s, Gonzalez's his later style; only Picasso

early 1930s he

work

seemed

finally

matured, and Smith began to develop

ahead of them. The

fact that in the

as well as heavy, sensual,

rounded stone

to be slightly

was making iron sculpture

piecesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; the work that so impressed Brassai' and Andre Breton

when they

visited his

Boisgeloup studioâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; confirms Picasso's creative restlessness.

The summarize

1930s was not only the decade of "realisms," a term that has been used to its

spirit

of

politically

committed

art,

but also

a

time of radical

self-criti-

cism by the European avant-garde, a process whose antecedents can be traced to

Dada and Surrealism and

to the first stage

of the Soviet avant-garde. Along with the

serious social and political events weighing so heavily

minds,

artists

had to confront the widespread renunciation of

and the institutionalization of the avant-garde.

H

on the

It

is

era's artistic

more

lucid

formalism

significant that the two

domi-


nant avant-garde positions in the 1930s, the Abstraction-Creation group and the

sec-

ond, "rational," wave of Surrealism, agreed upon the need to re-create and redefine the language of the avant-garde, with a

new emphasis on

meaning.

its

In light of these underlying historical and artistic problems, formalist frame of reference sufficient to understand the

and

these innovators in iron

to

encompass

in the

is

an exclusively

meaning of the work of

term "Age of Iron"

all

that they

produced using that one metal? Although the Industrial Revolution, with scale use

of iron, had transformed the old material into

also seen as a destroyer false idea

of

symbol of progress,

a

on the

it

was

life

and

culture, thus generating the

between

art

and

iron, similar to that under-

a radical incompatibility

other.

large-

of traditional ways of

stood to exist between art on one side and the machine and tion

its

The importance of iron

in sculpture

all

industrial produc-

cannot be reduced merely to

the avant-garde's desire to be provocative by using such an unconventional artistic material.

It

seems necessary to explain, therefore, that in these pages "iron" not only

refers to the use art,

of

a specific

but also represents

a

material at a certain time in the evolution of

metaphor

for the crisis that arose in both society

Modern and the

avant-garde itself between the two world wars.

Steinberg pointed out the dialectical tension between the modernist and

humanist ics,

in

spirit in

although they

Gonzalez's work, a tension that has also been noted by other

may

interpret

it

differently.

The simultaneous exhibition

originally a craftsman

garde during the abstraction,

often stressed that Gonzalez was

is

and therefore interpreted modern

anthropomorphic viewpoint, even stubbornly opposed

it

Picasso, that

third of the century

which may be explained by

Whatever importance we ascribe

from

a traditional,

felt this

majority of the Spanish avant-

same reluctance toward complete

their forebear's

to

ideas

champion of the modern, always

a totally abstract art. In fact, the

first

in Paris

and Woman

1937 of two such totally different works by Gonzalez as Montserrat

with a Mirror illustrates this duality. While

crit-

anthropomorphic

tradition.

them, cultural traditions alone cannot

account for Picasso's and Gonzalez's use of iron in sculpture, because

a

cosmopoli-

tan language such as that of the avant-garde cannot be contained within a national culture. Perhaps the crises

of the 1930s created

a

window of opportunity

expression of cultural roots, both in Spain and abroad. In ized avant-garde established

and Giacometti

its

own

fact, as

for a clear

the institutional-

conventions, the reactions of Smith, Calder,

to the return to the figurative were perfectly in tune with those

of

IS


Picasso and Gonzalez, even though these five artists

from each other

The

United

as the

States, Switzerland,

came from countries

and Spain.

decisive artistic question was posed by

sums up and

space," a phrase that

Smith, Calder, and, to

mic approach would have advised works by Picasso, the

Gonzalez

clearly defines the styles

a lesser degree, a

as distinct

in his

"drawing in

of Picasso, Gonzalez,

Giacometti. Accordingly, although an acade-

prudent limiting of our exhibition to certain

works of Gonzalez, and the early sculpture of Smith, we

later

decided that works by Calder and Giacomettiâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; the real activators of that dialectic tension of sculpture as metallic drawing in spaceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; should be included. Thus, while

we of

realized the conceptual

we

three,

over,

felt

that

and

practical complications

was worth the

it

risk.

of using

This dialogue

confirmed the fluid exchange of ideas

among

five voices instead

five voices,

more-

by Picasso and Gonzalez and

initiated

extended by Calder, Giacometti, and Smith.

The inclusion of drawing and painting by Picasso

is

essential to this sculpture

exhibition rather than merely complementary. His preliminary series of line and dot

drawings from 1924 and 1926, as well as his

1044 and 021, both from crystallized in his

ings

series

of drawings from sketchbooks

1928, are often invoked to explain the ideas that

monument

of the 1920s and 1930s

to

Guillaume Apollinaire.

reflect the

would be

Similarly, Picasso's paint-

problems that he addressed

in his

"drawing

in space."

must be noted

It

that the

number of works by each of

the artists varies in

accordance with the ways in which each dealt with the underlying questions. The versatile

and

restless

Picasso soon

sion tor the steadfast Gonzalez period. Gonzalez ities

abandoned

a

form that was

and the focus of

and Smith were

his

most

to devote their energies to

to constitute

interesting

an obses-

and

fruitful

developing the possibil-

of iron for "drawing in space," in sharp contrast to Giacometti's approach. In

addition,

we were unable

to obtain

some works by Giacometti

would have improved the exhibition because

that

their fragility or state

undoubtedly

of conservation

prevented them from traveling. Finally,

it

creative energies

must

also be

of these

mentioned that

artists coalesced, all

after this brief period in

which the

of them, except Gonzalez (who died

shortly afterward), began to develop very different styles. For this reason,

included

at least

one

later

work by each

artist,

ing of one chapter or the opening of another.

16

which can be seen

we have

either as the clos-

Picasso, pages 18, ig, 25, and 26 of Sketchbook 1044, July 2j-December ij, 1928.

Pablo

Collection

Marina

Picasso, Galerie Jan Krugier,

Geneva.

>


'

\

1

.

17


1

Alberto Giacometti, Study for

The

18

Museum

The Palace

at

4 A.M., 1932. Pen

of Modern Art, Gift of Pierre Matisse in memory

and

ink on paper, 21.8

of Patricia

Kane

Matisse.

x 21.6 cm (8

</*

x 8

'/,

inches).


Dore Ashton

The Forging of New Philosophical Armatures: Sculpture Between the Wars and Ever Since

Between the wars: "nothing durable, nothing solid"

During the uneasy

years between the

incomparable crucible for new

two world wars,

was

ideas, at least in the arts, as so

ten by expatriate Argentineans, Japanese,

Scandinavians inform

Paris

over the city

us. Yet,

still

considered the

many memoirs

writ-

Cubans, North Americans, and

hung

a

cumulus of vague but keenly

sensed forebodings expressed again and again by French intellectuals and their foreign guests. dictable aster

A

prolonged threnody

denouement

wound through

in the eruption of

those troubled years until

World War

during the 1930s, the tone darkened: "These

II.

last

its

pre-

As Europe edged toward

dis-

twenty years have indeed wit-

nessed the most considerable intellectual tumult imaginable. Nothing durable, nothing solid, nothing which brae."'

So

Georges

said an unusual

Bataille, in

their

constructive; everything

is

group of

Mexico

er

is

among them Roger

and writer Antonin Artaud,

that French youth were

and that "these young people it

crumbling, losing

verte-

Caillois

and

feel

that

told an eager audience at

no longer content with

Europe has

lost its way,

knowingly and one may say criminally that Europe has

1936 lecture he echoed

its

1936 "Manifesto for a Sacred Sociology." That year, an

erstwhile Surrealist, the actor

the University of

intellectuals,

is

what many other

ideologies,

and they think that

lost its way."' In

anoth-

intellectuals in Paris were intoning in

newspapers and journals:

Anyone who knew recognize

it.

Paris three years

ago and returned there

In appearance the city has changed

everything that

made

it

little,

exciting, the youth, the

now would

but the

life

movement, the

not

of Paris, zest,

the

19


enjoyment, selvesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;I

all

am

changed

this has

terribly.

.

And

.

.

French youth,

left

them-

to

speaking especially of the young painters, sculptors, actors, film-

makers, etc.â&#x20AC;&#x201D; are on the edge of despair.'

This despair had been mounting year by year as the temporary

World War

I

artistic circles

Artaud moved

in,

xenophobia, and

to nationalism,

Benda

rejected the blatant Surrealist attack

from the

artistic

and of acquiescing

horrible conflagration, which indeed occurred

would be

scholar remote

Julien Benda, published his outcry The

class hatred

dicted

a

a

by accusing the thinking

Treason of the Intellectuals, causing a furor

way

No

evaporated into what the sociologists had called intellectual tumult.

matter from what direction, the news was disheartening. In 1928,

from the

relief just after

on

caste of giving

to

what he

a

decade

prelater.

and even though he was

reason,

far

milieus that shared certain of his views, his belief that Europeans

had betrayed the great tradition of disinterested thinking and

spiritual values

was

widely shared.

While es

it

is

true that immediately after

World War

heralding what Jean Cocteau called a rappel a

most

intellectuals to begin to

I

there were optimistic voic-

I'ordre, it

doubt the value of such

took only

order.

By

few years for

a

1924, the Surrealists

were mounting their energetic attack, and the rout of the "recall to order" was under way. There were great artistic battles, but

who proclaimed

Surrealists,

tions inspired by

Cubism. In

the value of "thought's dictation"

dream imagery, were opposed by

1929, a motley international

group, Cercle

et

and abstraction."

somehow everyone was

artists

losing ground.

and the

The

free associa-

schooled in the rigors of

group of painters and sculptors formed

Carre (Circle and Square), to defend the basic idea of "structure

Among

them, however, were

who

artists

exhibited with the Surrealists, such as Jean Arp,

who

could

in fact

just as easily

have

sometimes did, and

Joaquin Torres-Garcia, whose sojourn in Paris from 1926 to 1932 brought him consider the ancient symbols of pre-Columbian Surrealists.

In

a

1931,

art,

which

to

also greatly interested the

another group, Abstraction-Creation, was established by an

important international group of

artists

numbering

in the

hundreds, to battle the

pernicious Surrealist habit of smuggling realism into painting and sculpture, but

even here

a

softening of principle was evident.

Many

practitioners of "abstraction"

had already been seduced by the Surrealist notion of biomorphism. Theo van

Doesburg could

rant against

Surrealists, but their

20

what he called the "Jack the Ripper

style"

of the

widespread incursions were apparent. (And van Doesburg him-


self,

after all,

nym

had ambivalent

K. Bonset, he had written

I.

when,

loyalties

Dada poetry

passionate idealism of certain prominent

group

as a

few years before, using the pseudo-

a

De

for

magazine.) For

all

the

members of Abstraction-Creation,

the

Stijl

whole offered an amalgam of mixed idioms, even

fundamental confu-

a

sion.

Sometimes, especially during the artistic life

would

refer

vaguely to the existence of

ubiquitous in the 1930s. There were those sis

in artistic values.

1920s, the

late

When

who

and sculptors often begin with

the artistic

life

put

a

healthy skew to the

cri-

Christian Zervos founded Cabiers d'art in 1926, he

kept trying to discern positive trends, as

vitality.

when he wrote

plastic ideas

memory and

exalted by

and the word became

"crisis,"

tried to

watched the new generation closely for signs of

reality,

a

commentators of quotidian

His colleague in

E.

Teriade

1930 that both painters

of Cubism but now

arrive at "a lyrical

mysterious magic." 4 Far away, in the United States,

of Paris was watched very closely by anxious aspirants to the interna-

tional avant-garde, but by 1936, even they were disillusioned: In

1936

it

should have been apparent— heaven knows— that something was

about to happen in

art as in

everything

else.

But there was

a

comfortable

feel-

ing at the time as though the critical years of revolution had already been

surmounted. Most of the European innovators themselves gave indications of getting back to "normal"; certainly they produced nothing so insulting to tra-

dition as in the stormy days of cubism and the fauves. In the light of subse-

quent developments

it

becomes

difficult indeed to recall the precarious posi-

tion of an experimental artist during the reactionary thirties.' It

flare

up

was in the "reactionary in

smoldering embers of rebellion would

thirties" that

works of distinct originality— works strong enough to have survived and

inspired generations of artists to come. To what extent the troubled epoch was responsible for the generation of such works

probably incalculable, yet we cannot

is

discount th? heated philosophical, social, and aesthetic arguments that engulfed artists in Paris

during the

the Surrealist assault assault

on

classical

late

on the

idealism.

1920s and 1930s. strictures

of

The idea forces

classical

of the time included

reason and the rebel-Surrealist

Andre Breton exhorted

artists

to break free

habits of thought by journeying to the deepest, the oldest sources, ting themselves to Andre Breton

in his Paris studio,

May

i960.

what Octavio Paz

called a

"stubborn belief in

from

all

and by commita paradisiac age,

coupled with the vision of the primordial couple,'"' exalting the powers, he

said,

of

21


the

word

innocence of man, Paz

"love." Breton's affirmation of the original

him from

distinguished

all

his contemporaries, including Bataille, for

whom

said,

"eroti-

cism, death and sin are interchangeable signs whose combinations repeat the same

meaning again and

again, with terrifying

monotony: the nothingness of man,

his

irremediable abjection."

And

yet,

it

was Bataille

who

instigated the manifesto for the College de

Sociologie, devoted to a sacred sociology that

would study three principal problems:

"that of power, that of the sacred, and that of the myth

.

.

the total activity of the

.

The Musee ethnographique du Trocadero, Paris, 192}.

human being"â&#x20AC;&#x201D; problems

very

much

at

many ways symmetrical with

hyperbolic style was in

wrote, "Le desespoir intellectuel n'aboutit ni a

chefs d'ecole

both helped

facts, but,

this its

to

veulerie ni au reve, mais a

provoke the immense renewal of

time around, imbued with Institut d'Ethnologie,

poet Michel Leiris, whose

old

la

life

among

a

writings. Bataille's

Breton's: Bataille, for example,

Breton wrote, "La beaute sera convulsive ou sera

lence,"" while

established

own

the heart of Breton's

pas."''

And

later

taught the young

avant-garde artists was legendary.

whose musty

Sorbonne

1925, the

scientific cast. In

in

By

l'Homme, lications

in

a

and by 1938 was reorganized

scientific way,

which

Leiris

most important

worked

as a social scientist.

to the artistic

From

1930, the

halls Pablo Picasso,

Georges Braque, and Henri Matisse had learned about so-called primitive

organized in

the two

interest in primitive arti-

where Marcel Mauss

Musee ethnographique du Trocadero,

vio-

la

as

the

was

art,

Musee de

the late 1920s, the pub-

communityâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; Zervos's

Cahiers d'art, Bataille's

Documents, founded in 1929, and Minotaure, founded in 1933â&#x20AC;&#x201D; published articles by

some

of the

Griaule,

Abbe

reviews of the

No

most distinguished ethnologists of the period, including Marcel Breuil,

Georges Henri Riviere, and Otto Frobenius,

work of American anthropologist Franz Boas.

doubt the

level of

scholarship of these articles was far

visual artists than the excellent reproductions that

vided

a

as well as serious

less

important to

accompanied them, which pro-

range and variety of inspiration, particularly for sculptors seeking ways to go

beyond prewar Constructivist inventions. In 1930 alone, Documents published stantial article with

illustrations of the carvings of the

Haida

in

a

sub-

the Pacific

Northwest, and long essays by Frobenius on newly discovered works in Africa and

on the elongated Etruscan bronzes; works from the Colima region

in

for

its

part, Cabiers d'art published articles

on

Mexico, from Vancouver, and from West Africa, Totem poles at Skidcgatc, a Haida

and, perhaps most important, the rarely reproduced statuettes of elongated metal

22

Documents,

no. 1 (1930).

village,

published in


discovered by Zervos on the island of Sardinia.

Such concentrated

interest in

flight

from the European malaise,

fulfill

deep psychological needs.

non-European

rummaging

a desperate

A

perhaps signals

art

kind of

a

for other traditions to

War

few prominent figures in the pre-World

I

avant-garde followed up their initial interest in non-European art after the war by traveling to the fabled sites, while others stayed in Paris ates

and

visitors

grimage

from those foreign

composer Heitor Villa-Lobos came

to Paris for a

scarcely noticed, but by 1927 Paris was avid for reports to experience the direct ing.

impact of what

Sardinia. Bronze.

from Abini, near

it

life.

That same

few years;

at first

pil-

year,

he was

from other cultures and keen

imagined to be authentic primitive

Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro had lived in Paris since

cofounder of the important postwar Votive sword with two stags

Cendrars made his

cultures. In 1923, Blaise

where he experienced the wilder side of folk

to Brazil,

Brazilian

and associated with expatri-

literary journal

1916,

feel-

and was

a

Nord Sud, along with

Teti,

Museo Archeologico Nazionale,

Cagliari, Sardinia.

Guillaume Apollinaire and

poem

long

Pierre Reverdy. After

Altazor, he published

Parachute" regaling such friends images and

spatial

"there's

no time

its

it

in

made by

If

with the subtitle "Voyage in its

hurtling

eccentric personalities contributing to a shift in

on

and notably on sculp-

restless artists,

work

Surrealist preoccupation with objects naturally affected the kind of

sculptors,

among whom

sculpture, the sculptor

become

the issue of objectness had

increasingly

penetrating study of the evolution of

a

William Tucker identified the

issues:

one word captures the aspirations of modernism from about 1870

Second World War, sculpture, music,

it

and

architecture, the

word came

to

rules,

its

own

order,

its

own

the world, in a

way

in

.

.

.

work of

Sculpture, of

its

which painting, music and poetry

tion of the poem-object, the objet-tableau

the object-status of the

poem

,

in

denote an ideal condi-

materials, independent of

audience and of the world in general.

to the

and painting, then

surely object. Firstly in poetry

is

tion of self-contained, self-generating apartness for the

own

a

to lose."'

important since the turn of the century. In

Modern

his

magical message of flight, punctuated by the urgent refrain

perspective in Paris certainly had an impact

The

1

on

for twelve years

Arp, Juan Gris, and Picasso with

as

The presence of innumerable

tors.

193

working

its

with

its

maker, of

its

art,

nature

is

object, in

are not; thus,

continued to be

active.

ambi-

... In

fact,

or painting tended to release and enlarge the

Chief or pontif Bronze. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Cagliari, Sardinia.

evocations and associations in the

component words

or depicted subject,

23


whereas the

poem approached them dwindled indeed

was the

effect in sculpture

reverse: as the sculpture-object of the

the reality-object in the form of intention, the gap between

point

to the

art in general,

at

seemed

which

was the nature of the

to disappear. This

when most

that was experienced by advanced art in the 1920s,

ing those

who had been

making sculpture and

reasons for

all

artistsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; includ-

chiefly responsible in achieving the success of "the

object" in sculpture and painting, Brancusi and Picassoâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; seem to have

impulse to move backwards or forwards violently'

The spasmodic violence

many

to

1

of this backward-and-forward

movement was

evident

viewers, and, as was so often the case, was epitomized in the between-the-

and techniques. Surely Breton found confirmation of

when he

visited

Picasso's studio in

The photographs

Brassai.

an

felt

moods

wars work of Picasso, whose 1932 retrospective revealed the extremes of his

object

crisis

1933,

notion of the

his

crisis

of the

accompanied by the photographer

that Brassai' shot there focused noticeably

on

objects,

both

those created by Picasso and those with which he surrounded himself in his envi-

ronment, which together constituted what Breton would

Picasso's "element."'

call

Breton had long understood the importance of Picasso's most radical gestures.

who

he

He

essential to his collection.

was

Doucet, that Les Demoiselles

insisted to his patron, collector Jacques

d'Amgnon was

It

wrote to Doucet on November

6,

1923,

"A single certitude: Les Demoiselles d'Avignon because one enters completely into

Constantin Brancusi, Bird in Space, 1932-40. Polished brass,

134.7 cm ($3 inches) high. Peggy Guggenheim

Collection, Venice.

and because

Picasso's laboratory

it

is

talk

.

.

.

on December

about

modern

it

is

ideal that

Later, Breton, in

a

mystical fashion.

pure symbol,

a

we begin

an

like the

that

it

is

ate data

24

its

The question

by

bit

surrounding else

.

bull,

.

.

it

is

me

And

the fact that

it

all

a

the year

impossible to

only posed afterwards.

an intense projection of the is

for

me

a

sacred image."

Crisis of the Object," located "the resides in

whole

an unremitting quest

quoted the philosopher Gaston Bachelard, who,

the primordial metaphysical function of the real and answers

the conviction that "one will discover

Where find

"The

life" in

tor objectification. In the article, he is

continue eternally"

will

Chaldean

to grasp bit

article entitled

pathos of modern intellectual

he said, asks what

of the drama, the center of

1924, he wrote again, saying, "It seems to

other than in

it

me

For

12,

mode

and that

conflicts Picasso has given birth to, later,

the

more

in reality

than in the immedi-

it.""

but in sculpture would the "objectification" Breton spoke about

apotheosis? Judging by the pages of the most widely read reviews, sculpture


was

at last

finding the kind of serious

Picasso's reputation helped focus attention in the late 1920s, for the first

attention

critical

it

on sculpture once again when, beginning

time in years he turned his

He

ing of three-dimensional objects.

had long been denied.

heralded

a

full

widespread renewal of interest

experimental sculpture, not only in France but throughout the Western world.

and Picasso,

whom

still

Paris,

still

Paris that provided the

who

to

most

Foundation,

cook

good

a

risotto,

cannot,

I

one of the big restaurants

in

War

approached the garrison cook and

dAiguy, make us

my

artists,

Gertrude Stein

as

ning anecdote about Paris on the brink of World hers, a captain,

to

have

was

II,

even Americans

illustrated in a

was everything.

A

captain, said the soldier

in Paris, because

I

cun-

friend of

"Will you, said Captain

said:

who

was

you have materi-

cook with, everything you want and you cannot make your sauce you have foundation, what do you

a

mean by

a

a

have not the foundation for

the sauce. Foundation for a sauce, said the captain, pale with fury, al

It

in

the Western hemisphere looked, and

artists in

foundation for the work of those

tried to resist the influence.

mak-

attention to the

to

foundation. If you please, said the trem-

bling cook, in Paris we always have a foundation for a sauce and we put that in and

then mix the sauce."

M

The new foundation being

laid in Paris

would provide the

basis for

many

a

piquant sauce, but also for genuine innovations. The general climate of thought, the necessity for violent

changesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; these were quickly communicated, with

responding and retreating

in different stages,

and with constant realignments and

shifts of direction. Into this

continuum entered

exhibition, each carrying his

own

each of

whom

the idees

forces

artists

the five artists represented in this

art-historical influences

and antecedents, and

of the period worked differently. Quite aside

erational differences, there were differences in their formative encounters

in

from genand

their

subsequent development that account for the diversity and strength of their contributions to

more

like a

Modern

art history.

ade chart than

That

as the trajectory of

and eddies, the digressions and five artists

Paris Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Paris, June-July 1008. Oil on canvas, 243.8

92

inches).

The

Acquired through

Museum

x

233. 7 cm (96

of Modern Art,

the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest.

New

was

history, so difficult to elucidate, can be seen as

shifts, that a tide chart

a native Parisian, yet all of

whose

and who

initial

full

of the whorls, circles,

documents. None of these

them drew upon the

between the wars for their independent

Picasso

an arrow,

artistic

discoveries.

moves were indisputably the source of the

initiated the

metaphorical age of iron, with

singular history of

all

It

was above

all

crisis in sculpture,

the implications that this

York,

show documents.

25


many

Picasso's

forked paths

Without speculating on the circumstances of

Picasso's personal life— which was in

turmoil— or on any of the intangibles that govern the moods of in his

moves of the 1920s apparent

World War

ture. After

sometimes

logic he

times he spoke of

I,

when he

see

leading toward his concentration on sculp-

Cubism

(a

talked of African sculpture, although at other

The

"exorcist" powers).

tained by Picasso in the

work

tation with classical

He pursued many

art.

one can

he had turned away from the logic of Analytic

stressed

its

trails

artists,

conflict born in Les Demoiselles was sus-

that followed, even as he continued his sporadic

flir-

when he

forked paths simultaneously, as

painted the fiercely expressionist The Dance in June 1925, and the classicizing Studio with Plaster

Head

few weeks

a

later.

Only

a year before, in

June 1924, he had created

the scenery and costumes for the ballet Mercure, inventing for the tableau called

"Night"

a

rattan

perhaps the

framework within which he placed mobile cardboard shapes.

first

indication that he would

move toward three-dimensional

sculpture, since his construction plan for the decor of "Night" looks very

many

much

was wire like

Pablo Picasso, The Dance, Monte Carlo, June 192$. Oil on canvas, 21s

of his subsequent sculptures.

band, led by Breton,

at first

was also

It

condemned

Picasso,

a

succes de scandale.

and nearly caused

and booing the opening night. The next day, however,

and

for never

anxiety of our

The

a riot

Surrealist Tate Gallery,

x 142 cm (88

!

A

x 55 Vs

inches).

London.

by hissing

in Paris-journal, they issued a

public apology in which they praised Picasso for despising tion,

It

all

sacrosanct conven-

pausing in his "perpetual creation of the disquiet, the searching

modern

While many Picasso commentators have been

days.""

pains to insist on his remoteness from Surrealism,

it

is

at

obvious that Picasso was

keenly interested in the expansion of possibilities inherent in Surrealist notions.

Moreover, because the original group consisted largely of poets— and he had always preferred the

company

of poets to artists— it was natural for

him

to

warm

to their

advances. His close and lasting friendships with Leiris and Paul Eluard date from

around

this time, as

does his closer relation with Breton,

Picasso in almost every issue of

La Revolution

surrealiste,

who

published works by

beginning with the

first

issue in 1924. In the years Surrealists, Picasso

immediately following the

began to propose

in his

initial

rapprochement with individual

many sketchbooks

a series

projects that appeared to echo the Surrealist preoccupation with

of outlandish

Pablo Picasso, Studio with Plaster Head, Juan-les-Pins,

summer 192$ Si

and that increasingly demanded

26

a

.

Oil on canvas, 98.1 x 13 1.2

cm (38

Museum of Modern

New

metamorphosis,

three-dimensional realization. These included, for

/i inches). The

!

Purchase.

Art,

s

/s

x

York,


example, his 1927-28 drawings of heavily modeled, metamorphic figures that he

thought of

explicitly

in

as

monumental

promenade

sculptures to be erected along the

Cannes. During the summer of 1928

Dinard, he saw the Surrealist poet

in

Georges Hugnet almost daily while he was assiduously sketching the lineaments of his wire sculptures,

which he produced

as

soon

as

he got back to Paris

no. 27).

(cat.

There, sculptor Julio Gonzalez, Picasso's old friend from Barcelona, had also

many

been living for

years.

It

usually assumed that Picasso had renewed his

is

friendship with Gonzalez the previous spring with the specific purpose of acquiring

why

techniques of welding. But

iron forging and welding, and

why Gonzalez?

Surely

Pablo Picasso, drawing for the maquette for "Night,

a tableau in

the ballet

Mercure,

Paris, 1924.

there was a need that went

beyond simple

practicality.

Throughout

his life Picasso

maintained relationships with fellow Spaniards, and most particularly, with Catalan Since most commentaries on Picasso's oeuvre have been written by French,

artists.

American, or European gingerly, est

The

at all.

if

critics,

fact

the issue of his Spanish nostalgia

Hugue, and Gonzalez. The

last

wrote in

deserves to be claimed by every country, he

known

have

him and

Picasso for

talked to

usually handled

remains that he was careful to stay in touch with his

memories through relationships with such

I

is

a

himâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; which

1935

Manolo

Pablo Gargallo,

as

although Picasso

article that,

"ours":

is

more than

artists

earli-

thirty years,

and whenever

have seen

I

has happened oftenâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; we have talked about

Catalans, and he has spoken nostalgically of Barcelona, of Perpignan.

remembers tions,

their festivals, their traditions, sardana, dancing, fairs,

and

all

is

Picasso's earliest biographer

tragedy, a characteristic that

his

of interest to him.'"

and lifelong

him what he thought

Though no

1044, Ppaper,

I)>

a

Monument

Marina

Maurice Raynal, did not

hesitate to

of as Spanish characteristics (such as a sense of

chauvinist, Picasso

is

a

Spaniard through and through.

.

.

.

For

all

long years of residence in France, the country of his choice, he has

remember

his bitter

Alphonso

XIII,

to events

on the other

and outspoken indignation

when

Ferrer,

one of the

in

side

of the Pyrenees.

I

1909, early in the reign of

socialist leaders of the uprising in

Barcelona, was hailed before a military court and summarily executed.'"

(Sketchbook

Dinard, 1928. India ink and pencil on

j8 x ji cm (14 "At x 12

friend,

Gonzalez confirmed) and commented:

remained deeply sensitive

Pablo Picasso, Project for

demonstra-

kinds of events, and he remembers things in great detail.

Everything Catalan

attribute to

He

One of

the things Picasso never forgot,

it

seems, was his early exposure to the

>Aa inches). Collection

Picasso, Galerie Jan Krugier,

Geneva.

art

of the ironworkers of Spain, among them Joan Gonzalez,

Julio's older brother,

27


whom

knew

Picasso

1900. Perhaps an

in the years before his first trip to Paris in

even more plausible source lay in his youthful admiration for Santiago Rusinol,

Spanish Sitges

who was

artist

was

magnet

a

twenty years older than he, and whose cultural center in

for the art students of Picasso's generation in the mid-to-late

1890s. Rusinol was an enthusiast of the ironwork traditions collection. In in

a

and owned an extensive

an 1895 lecture he had spoken of the forges of old Barcelona: "There,

the darkness of those sooty workshops, under the ringing chorus of constant

hammering on

the anvil,

think

I

I

see springing

from the

insisted in his article that Picasso

"milieu of his formative years," artists

who

he was, he

with

in the

knew where

months

whom

included

in

to

a belief

without

art

fire,

whom

decades.

listener,

to seek out. In 190

he decided to publish Arte Joven, the venerated Miguel de

ence on the young Picasso.

in the

and

later writings; at the

very

his formative years.

least,

1,

a literary

and

He

Unamuno and

was, as so

life,

this

n

first issue

an essay by Pio Baroja, a direct

influ-

by others to describe or explain him

they were an important

que todo un hombrei

The

Soler,

views, especially, were not only congenial to

also used

"Who

many

for instance, he spent

art review.

component

In an introduction to a collection of

Salvador de Madariaga asks,

by the

and, as young as

Generation of '98 and probably

Unamuno's

temperament but were

"This apostle of

many

Madrid, where he met the Catalan writer Francisco de Asis

poems by

Nadu menos

all

shared by most Spanish writers and by

Barcelona days, an attentive

go and

both of them major figures

Picasso's

an

.

was influenced above

kept in touch with Picasso over

many remember him

a few

.

in tire."

Gonzalez

Spanish

.

smoke, born from

aesthetic rules or absurd restrictions, an art free as

wrought

tire

but

Unamuno

in the

milieu of

Unamuno's

writings,

could have invented that

and describes the paradox of

in

Unamuno

title

as follows:

eloquent advocate of irrationality and experience versus

reason and intellectualism lived mostly in the mind.""

Unamuno

unabashedly

spoke of the "soul of the Spaniard," an aspect of himself and his countrymen that

Madariaga explains

in

the right to be

and

itself

terms of "the deep tendency of the Spaniard to deny reality to dare force

The concatenation of events working

atelier in

28

to adjust itself to

our inner dream."'

that brought Picasso to Gonzalez's cluttered

1928 included not only his technical needs but probably an

instinctive need to retreat in the stressed,

it

company

had an equable temperament and

of an old a

countryman who,

modesty that appealed

as

is

to Picasso.

always It

was


while working side by side with the superb craftsman that Picasso remarked that he

had not been so happy since 1912, work. But that happiness was also

year of singular artistic efflorescence in his

a

function of his strong sense that he was forging

a

ahead, inventing new approaches to sculptural form. The liberation that he wielding the torch, and inventing an the iron forger's Surrealists but

art.

smoke,"

art "free as

sciently declared in

fountains."

much

very

1

art journals to the iron

sculptors.

"The tendency of most modern

As Rusihol had so

art

to

is

drink

the "primal" metal sculptures of

all

pre-

primal

at

Just a cursory glance at the art journals of that period indicates

Modern epoch were as

1893,

with the

his association

by the increasingly frequent allusions in the

and bronze sculptures ot other and often ancient

Rusihol had described

as

had also been stimulated not only by

felt

how

and cultures preceding the

eras

the focus of renewed attention, including such diverse examples

wrought-iron animals from Luristan, Iberian pre-Roman heads, and Hispano-

Arabic elongated, forged-and-hammered figures. Finally, there

was the Surrealist obsession with the found object, initiated by

Marcel Duchamp, which by 1928 had been clearly articulated, and which was

As

tainly not a foreign idea to Picasso.

early as

19 12.

cer-

he had used scraps ot found

materials in his collages and constructions, a practice that Apollinaire wrote about in

terms ot the

19 13 in

Surrealists only spurred

human him

associations evoked by the use of such materials.

to retrieve

and develop certain ot

Picasso's long history of cutting shapes

and sometimes sculpture

bas-reliefs

from cardboard,

in the

tin,

round gave him

a

his early

Cubist ideas.

and burlap head

The

making

in

start in his

adven-

ture in Gonzalez's studio.

In fact, he

Head

had turned

to

Gonzalez even

earlier,

modeling the singular Cubist

(Fernande) oi 1909 in his friend's studio. Speaking of that work, Picasso later

told his biographer

should continue

Roland Penrose:

in the interior.

tion, however, did not please

much

like

painting.

'""

I

him

"'I

thought the curves you

had the idea of doing them because, he added,

Whether or not

this

'It

see

on

the surface

in wire." This solu-

was too intellectual, too

remark was an afterthought, the

tact

remains that his general approach in the early years tended toward the same econo-

my and The Pablo Picasso. Cubist Head (Fernande), fall 1900. (cat. Bronze, 40.5

Musee

x 2} x 26 cm

Picasso, Paris.

(1

f

',

t

x9

'At

x 10

'/

4

use of

first

work

volume and space found that he did with

no. 26)â&#x20AC;&#x201D; with

its

in the iron sculptures

from 1928 onward.

Gonzalezâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; the painted construction Head

tripod metal armature and

its

double-image head,

ot

1928

clearly

inches).

derives

from paintings of the period. Yet within

a

tew months, the painterly source

19


of

was transmuted. Picasso returned to the linear inventions he had once

his interest

only imagined, this time carrying them out with intense concentration on the possi-

of the technique of assemblage.

bilities

approach

such works

in

as the

19 14,

with

a

a

is

curving

its

member; and

tin

from

clearly a leftover

curving shape had been sawed out; Bottle

with

already partially explored this

wood construction Mandolin and

which one of the principal shapes which

He had

Clarinet of 19

and Newspaper

of Bass, Glass,

a detailed sketch, a

study for

in

wood from

piece of

a

13,

of

construction

a

guitar, clearly depicting a three-dimensional sculpture with strings or wires

and

for the guitar,

a table

or chairs, with legs of zig-zagging planes reminiscent of

mind worked even from

African sculptures. The way Picasso's ed clearly in remarks he If

I

made

paste three bits of

reflect-

is

Helene Parmehn:

later to

wood on

that does not represent

that period

placard and

if

freedom— in what way

is

something or other with three

a

I

say that that

painting,

is

that freedom?

making

It's

bits of

wood. That has nothing

in that

which one makes,

to

do with Pablo Picasso,

freedom.

If

there

is

a

freedom

it

in the act of

is

Pine, paint,

freeing

something

in oneself.

And

21

even that— that doesn't

14 Vs x p

last.

Mandolin and

and

crayon,

'/16 inches).

Clarinet, fall 191 3.

$8 x 36 x 23 cm (22 Vg x

Musk

Picasso, Paris.

In Gonzalez's studio, Picasso obviously freed something in himself— for instance,

the impulse to

work out

intricate linear spatial

games,

a

thought that had long ago

occurred to him in the course of his playing the old draftsman's single line without lifting the pencil

ings of harlequins in simple,

impulse to whittle tures carved

around the of

means

in

down

193

studio.

1

from the paper,

as in his

game

of drawing a

numerous

open configurations of bent-wirelike

lines.

shapes, played out also in the group of slender

from what were undoubtedly framing

When

working on

a sculpture, his

19 18

drive was to use

Or

wood

strips that a

drawthe

sculp-

he found

minimum

to reveal highly suggestive shapes in space, or to let loose the characteristic

tendency throughout his

life

to explore the uninhibited realm

of the baroque. In

Spanish formation certainly figures. In those cafe sessions of his

this too, his

stu-

dent years, Picasso absorbed the lessons of the poets of Spain's golden age— particularly

Gongora,

whom

he would

later lovingly

illustrate.

One of

Gongora's seven-

teenth-century admirers, the Jesuit Baltasar Gracian, characterized the Baroque mentality in his

Third Discourse: "Uniformity limits, variety expands; and variety

limer to the degree that tures, Picasso

its

is

sub-

noble perfections are multiplied.'"' In his iron sculp-

took great pleasure

in the variety

of

Pablo Picasso, Bottle of Bass, Glass, and Newspaper, spring 1 01 4. Painted white iron, sand, iron wire,

effects

paper, 20.7

ing iron to his formal will, as can be seen step by step.

30

and

he could achieve by bend-

The

initial

resistance

and

Musk

x 14 x

8.s

Picasso, Paris.

cm (10

%

/s

x

5

'/>

x 3

'At inches).


medium

eventual ductility of the metal

stimulated his imagination and, even more,

enabled him to clarify his unremitting search for the essential sign, the reduction that yields imaginative amplification.

There

not

is

a single

sculpture by Picasso that cannot be found

his drawings. In drawing, he

"Raphael's image of

sought the "signs" that he said were the keys to his

woman

a

announced

only

is

observe nature, but never confuse

it

sign,"

a

;i

with painting.

he said, and "an It

is

in

art.

should

artist

only translatable into paint-

1

ing by signs."'

human

figure

Signs are extreme reductions, and often in Picasso's drawings, the

'

and

many

was drawn back to Gonzalez's studio, he and

other

artists

such reductions. His countryman Joan Miro, for instance, 1923 in

which the French word

depouiller

he

were concerned with

made

statements after

was repeatedly invoked: "to

from the mid-i920s, there

In Picasso's sketchbooks

essentials."

moment

various parts are reduced to skeletal signs. At the

its

strip

are

down

to

numerous

stripped-down drawings, including some, called Surrealist, in which the bony armature beneath

gested to Pablo Picasso, (study for

(8

'/,

x

5

a 'A

Man

him

in the

flesh

is

all

that interests him.

The hieroglyphics

course of working iron fortified

many

that were sug-

artists after

him, includ-

with Guitar (Three Subjects)

sculpture), 1912. inches).

human

Musee

Ink on paper, 21 x

1

3

cm

Picasso, Paris.

we know from

ing Gonzalez, who, as

and with

commentaries on Picasso, watched

his

intelligent analysis while Picasso

The

worked.

few experiments with iron wire were worked out in scores of draw-

first

ings that Picasso

made

Dinard

in

summer

in the

of 1928. Here, his initial idea of

figure near a beach cabana (which can be seen in paintings of that fancifully,

looking back to

earlier

drawings

in

which he used

a

summer)

a

woman's head

gression of drawings over that its

environs (the

the mere head of

summer, one

a

pin.

Looking

sees Picasso seeking the

latter in this case

evolves

Unknown

Masterpiece," and forward to paintings in which the suggestion of distance

by making the sign for

a

syntax of lines and

dots linked up as in the parlor game, such as his illustrations for "The

the figure and

closely

is

made

at the pro-

means

to fuse

consisting of the horizon and the

beach cabin}, an old sculptural problem already addressed by Auguste Rodin,

Medardo Rosso, and Umberto Boccioni. at

the Galerie de

la

Boetie in

19

13,

(For the exhibition catalogue for his

Boccioni had reprinted his

19 12

show

"Technical

Manifesto of Futurist Sculpture," in which he called for the "absolute and complete abolition of definite lines and closed sculpture, we break open the figure and Pablo Picasso, Harlequin, igi 10.8 x 10.8 Paris.

cm

(4

%

8.

Graphite on paper,

enclose x 4

'/,

inches).

Musee

it

in

its

environment."^ Picasso himself was on the same

track,

and

in

1914

Picasso,

had produced

his Glass

of Absinthe, in which the forces of the environment invade

31


same time, the Dinard drawings play around the

the heart of the sculpture.) At the witty vision of the

human body

whole environment

as a

an armature for

as

its

house of

and of the

flesh,

house within which the body moves. The problem of

ing an alternative to the usual

monotonous

base

is

creat-

also addressed, as Picasso sug-

gests several points of contact for the gravitational pull of the figure,

finding decid-

edly original solutions.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of his solutions to these problems, particularly in the 1928 series of wire-sculpture maquettes for a proposed to Apollinaire,

is

the

way he

duces a pictorialism of

a

establishes a three-dimensional frame

new order

(for

monument

and thus

which many commentators have

intro-

criticized

him). In conventional sculpture there was always the notion of virtual enclosure suggested

by the original quadrature of

block. Here, the intercession of complicated

a

planes of perforated space simultaneously breaks the consistency of the quadrature

and reinforces (i.e.,

its

inevitable perpetual presence,

more or

less

on the

Gestalt principle

where the overall configuration dominates one's attention to individual

parts).

Pablo Picasso, Glass of Absinthe, Paris, spring 1914.

Painted bronze with absinthe spoon, 21.6 x 16.4 x

Picasso's interest in preserving

an interplay of form

is

evident in the slight varia8.$

tions of certain elements that he

makes within

this series,

modifying the thickness

6.4

cm (8 cm

'/x

x 6

'/i

(2 '/ inches).

x The

3

/s inches); diameter at base

}

Museum of Modern

York, Gift of Mrs. Bertram Smith.

of his iron wire and emphasizing or minimizing the slight curves produced in the

soldered joints. While these sculptures are drawings in space, they are also highly

complex sculptural evocations of

space.

The

cat's-cradle complications of the draw-

ings are sustained but clarified by a shaper's

form from

line.

Picasso's initial collaborations with

completed between 1930 and inevitable poetic (that a

modern idiom

tures was

is,

that has

1935, in

that he sent

had

a lasting

to buy),

shaped metal to represent

became the touchstone

a

its

and

influence. (cat.

latter

its

works

no. 29), with

rakelike sweep of hair.

for countless artists

work, which Picasso

a

its

influential sculp-

flexed legs, as in a

found object

(the colanders

hieroglyphic composite of wire springs and

Widely reproduced,

this

work

embarking on assembled metal sculpture

Woman

in a

Garden of 1919-1,0

(cat.

hammered and welded without Gonzalez's

tance, was the first sculpture assembled out

32

One of the most

prominent use of

experiments, as did the more flamboyant

The

in

metaphoric) associations becomes essential, he established

tribal piece,

Gonzalez

Gonzalez inspired him, and,

which the use of found materials with their

Head of Woman of 1929-30

Bambara or Bakota

28).

hand that unerringly draws out the

no.

assis-

of found iron parts of monumental

Art,

New


proportions— some of them almost seven an environmental sculpture with These to

pieces,

Gonzalez

which

from Barcelona

to Paris

and others. That its

Mark

Suvero and onward, could never have been

di

and back again

to

can only be traced

line

on

was not only Rusihol

who

who

himself carried

a line

Spain in the works of Eduardo Chillida

importance of iron

if the

as a

medium—

envisioned the possibilities. Paul Gauguin, in his

the Universal Exposition of 1889, called

intuition concerning the tectonic and

on

of Modern sculpture from Picasso

variant, steel— is acknowledged.

It

notes

to

modern example of

first

and emphatically baroque, character.

without the unique contribution of Gonzalez,

realized

and

playful,

establish a line in the history

David Smith

to

a

high— and the

feet

Picasso's innovations in the

modern

of iron.

.

.

.

adaptability of iron has

some bearing

medium:

To the architect-engineer belongs bolts, iron corners

"the triumph of iron," and his

it

a

new

decorative

extending beyond the main

art,

such

line, a sort

as

ornamental

of gothic lacework

Imitation bronze statues clash alongside iron. Always imitation!

Better to have monsters of bolted iron.

2S

Gauguin's vision of such monsters came into being in the more violent imagery of

some of

Picasso's 193

sculptures and heralded works by artists such as Smith and

1

Richard Stankiewicz.

Gonzalez and the iron arabesque

Gonzalez,

who was

fifty-two years old

thoughtful craftsman

who had

long harbored ambitions projects,

as

a

but they were usually

when

Picasso engaged his services, was a

lent his skills to others to earn his bread, painter. Occasionally he reliefs,

and had

had undertaken sculptural

or masks that grew directly out of his work as

an ornamental ironworker. Without the experience of working side by side with Picasso, perhaps he

major sculptor.

would never have succeeded

Yet, as the

in liberating his latent talents as a

American sculptor Smith wrote

in a genial article

on

Gonzalez, "The technical collaboration made neither change nor influence in the

conception of either

work

in his

What

own

artist.

During the

several years

it

existed, each

pursued his

own

way.""

Picasso undoubtedly did teach Gonzalez was the value of the large ges-

ture, the free-spirited play

of the

bricoleur,

and the

role

of chance

in

experimental

33


work.

Where

tions.

With

things are concerned, Picasso used to say, there are no class distinc-

his fellow artist's entrance into his studio, Gonzalez's lifelong habits as a

meticulous craftsman, drawing objects in precise iron,

and carefully welding them

complying with

Picasso's needs,

sheets of

in seamless perfection, were disrupted critically. In

Gonzalez discovered

them not only through

to realize

them from

detail, cutting

his

own

his

own, and found the means

technical expertise but by giving free rein

to his innate sculptural intelligence.

Gonzalez was well aware of the sculptural ideas born first

in

the

new

century's

decades and, in general, with the Modernist discussions animating Paris ever

since he

had arrived

whom

He had watched

Picasso during the

and he had also learned from others, including Constantin

crucial Cubist years,

Brancusi, for

turn of the century.

at the

he worked during the 1920s, perhaps building armatures. His

friendship with Torres-Garcia, the Uruguayan

artist

who had

studied in Barcelona

alongside the Gonzalez brothers, and had worked with Antoni Gaudi, was resumed

when

Torres-Garcia settled in Pans in 1924. Torres-Garcia was immensely gregarious

and knew

artists

in

many

circles

in Paris.

The well-frequented Saturday afternoon

many

gatherings in his studio brought Gonzalez into contact with

who

were

studio in

although

filled

with energetic visions of aesthetic change.

1929 that the plans for the group Cercle it

It

spirited artists

was in Torres-Garcia's

Carre were formed, and,

et

was to be committed to the basic idea of "structure and abstraction,"

and some of the members were passionate and intolerant Neo-Plasticists, the

pres-

ence of Arp, Georges Vantongerloo, and Torres-Garcia himself assured fruitful differences. In fact,

it

was during

this period that Torres-Garcia

began

to

work with

pre-Columbian symbols, breaking with the rigorous non-objective principles of

some of his

colleagues.

The big discussion

in

those days hinged on the concept of space, which had

already altered significantly during the

Cezanne (and

theoretically at least, since the

century), space was not only perceived as a lated itself, but as

almost

partner.

approaching

When

it

decades of the century. Since Paul

Romantic period

from

he spoke of

his

clear,

was

long experience

stars as

could be shaped within

much as a

articu-

a created

preoccupied with the issue

draftsman. Space became his

points in the infinite, he conceived of

points to be linked by means of "drawing in space." As

34

in the nineteenth

continuum through which matter

a material in itself that

work. Gonzalez, as his statements make of space,

first

a

them

as

draftsman, he knew that


hand sought points

his

and from which

sition,

distant

from the

in space

and

to establish the

something now

to abstract the illusion of

perceiver.

which

a virtual axis in

compo-

now more

closer,

His "marriage of material and space" by the "union of

forms with imaginary forms, obtained and suggested by established points, or

real

grew directly from the abstracting process every draftsman knows.

by perforation"

When

he discovered that he could translate those "established points" into his

beloved material, iron, Gonzalez discovered himself, just as Plato's child student discovered geometry.

The work

of Gonzalez's maturity, beginning

new

have introduced

a

changing syntax

as in

He

around

1930,

is

often said to

syntax, but probably his great strength lay not so

finding

a fresh

means

much

in

to extend a long sculptural tradition.

did not linger with the Cubist planar vision, although his earliest experiments

with cutting sheet iron around 1927 began there. Rather, he reached back to retrieve the character of sculpture-in-the-round developed during the Renaissance, but with

new means. 193

1

),

most compelling works, such

In his

the torsion

is

carefully calculated.

Almost

as

all

Woman Combing Her Hair

of the larger works thereafter are

conceived according to the contrapposto principle: Nothing single plane; everything

through shaped perforations that constantly move. In

surrounding space and argued, advanced

And

Modern

in Gonzalez's

which he wanted

own way

his

sculpture perhaps even

own

to extend.

eyes, his

both knowing the venerable

more than

in

fire,

forcing

them

the history of ironsmithing back to the

challenge to both

The

artists.

into

5

'

a great tradition,

new

as

Gonzalez, at

who

was

least,

in

"stubbornly defiant" to

means of "drawing

in space"

Tucker has captured the excitement of metalworking:

hand of Gonzalez: not only the assembly

wood bore

made by

fruit in steel

part by part, but the previous

and separate shaping of partsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; bar forged, drawn or bent, sheet folded, volumes

in cutting

configurations,

Old Testament

seed of Picasso's original Cubist constructions in

in the

Picasso.

artistic history of their material.

describe his people." To use this hallowed material as a a

itself

the workshop, Picasso, was in his

which the prophet Jeremiah used the metaphor of iron

was

a

Margit Rowell has

as

and the two shared the sensual pleasures

means of

on

rest

integration of the

means were derived from

His companion

a great traditionalist,

knew

permitted to

his total

avoidance of frontality, Gonzalez,

into the slabs of iron and, by

religious,

is

contrived to turn in space, drawing space into

is

(ca.

the enclosure of the void: the

rolled, cut or

component thus

35


made, joined

points and edges, and situated in relation to gravity in ways

at

inaccessible to the traditional materials

Gonzalez often returned

of sculpture."

which he had begun cutting,

to the carved slab of iron,

bending, and shaping in the

reliefs

of 1929.

He

extended his technique with

tion of Picasso's painterly conception of The Kiss (ca. 1930), its

clear superposition of planes,

which

in

Woman"

of 1932

(cat.

frontality,

its

and curvilinear wire definition harks back

Head

Gonzalez's decorative masks of the mid-to-late 1920s. Eventually, as in "The Swiss

a varia-

most expressive

no. 39), he drew out the

to

Called

possibility

of suggested massive volumes with minimal manipulation of the sheet of metal.

The

great challenge for both artists lay in the mastery

which entailed both

had intrigued Picasso, not

Just as etching in stages

and

in reverse as well, so

hammering,

piece by piece,

ished at

first

careful imagining beforehand

and improvisation

in the least

because

it

had

will.

What Gonzalez

in the event.

to be

imagined

he became engaged in this process of working

and torching. Gonzalez must have been aston-

Postage stamps and bits of tin cans were one thing, iron another.

learned about free association from Picasso during those long hours

together in the studio was

augmented by the

art talk

of the period.

It

was

time

a

the Surrealists were demonstrating the evocative power of fragments, and

reproducing in their magazines the strange objects they turned up in the ket.

itself,

by Picasso's way of surveying the studio and finding scraps that could

be bent to his

when

cutting,

of the process

And

it

was also

time when, in other quarters, there was

a

a lot

of

mar-

flea

talk

about

truth to materials and about direct carving, for which Brancusi was the revered

model. Gonzalez might have his iron sheets

special kinship with Brancusi

when he

and followed the internal demands of the metal he knew so

During the few his

felt a

years Picasso collaborated with him,

working principles and

to weld disparate,

well.

Gonzalez was assembling

his essential vocabulary. After The Kiss,

Gonzalez began

sometimes found bars or rods, together with cut-out shapes,

had seen Picasso do

in

Woman

in a Garden.

He

as

a single part),

to stress the arabesque, an abstract tendency quite foreign to Picasso.

also experimented with semienclosed shapes, as in

no. 41), with

its

plays

on dark and

light of

he

refined his execution (Picasso was

not concerned with the elegance of the weld, or the discreet polish of

and began

cut into

Head

Called "The Tunnel"

He (cat.

an entirely new character. Then, toward

the mid-i930s, Gonzalez developed an alternate way to use his materials by joining several slabs together to create hollow, boxlike

36

volumes,

as in Seated

Woman

I (cat.


no.

53).

new concept

(Rowell attributes this

to his

encounter with Alberto Magnelli,

who, during the mid-i93os, was working with the imagery of In a sculpture of

iron rod,

making

of Spain found

around

1935,

Large Standing Figure

drawing in space

a magisterial

its

modern

in

A

drew inspiration from the

made

and

1935,

work

his

and

light, color,

human

idea.

viable for others.

problems called up

difficult

These forms will of course be imagined

all

new

architecture.'

4

his inventive resources.

What

Picasso was important, but so was his dialogue with Torres-Garcia,

human

spirit

could be conveyed through color,

a

profound

their references to the

human

The

believed that

numerous acquaintances,

tra-

that

transition. Torres-Garcfa's concerns

translation of abstract ideas of color

in his sculpture

of the

and

light,

1930s.

idea of the primacy of the material was not an ideological position for as

it

many

was for so

others, but rather

grew from his long experience

with metal, an obdurate material compared with clay or

many

who

image, and the tectonics involved as the primary

would find resolution

issues that

moment of

a

on the

reinforced Gonzalez's focus

Gonzalez

and

crisis

he learned from

and form, spoke of the

line,

dition of "Abstract Man," and believed, as he said to

was in

no concrete

image. Difficult problems to be solved posed by

these reinvented planes creating a

art

was certainly

painter or sculptor can give a form to something which has

in reference to the

the

it

1930, he stated:

form: such as

Such

stones.)

which the wrought-iron tradition

elements of Gonzalez's practice between 1930 and

Around

and piled

no. 50), he returned to the

(cat.

fulfillment. Countless artists

Gonzalez's adherence to abstract principles that

split

things that can be

dered, and

it

done with iron or

almost always

resists

steel. It

plaster.

There are only so

can be cut, bent, forged, and

surface embellishment.

The impetus

for this

sol-

new

genre of sculpture came from Gonzalez's recognition of the nature of his material, as well as his

romantic temperament, which, in

to the abstractâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; to the arabesque,

since the Symbolist Picasso. Irrespective

ness is

and

a way, this aligned

of any influence or

a subtlety rarely

composed around an

idealizing tendency, was attracted

which had assumed such mystical importance ever

movement. In

determined the idiom that so

its

many

affinity,

him more with Matisse than

however,

since have explored,

seen since. The Dream, The Kiss invisible vertical axis

it

was Gonzalez

and he did (cat.

from which

it

with

a

who bold-

no. 46), for instance,

dilate just a few well-

defined forms that nonetheless give the impression of complexity. The cup-shaped

37


node of

forged,

rounded elements

echoed

is

open shape,

in the crownlike,

to

which

Gonzalez has appended only the three strands of Hying hair (an image he borrowed

from Picasso and never relinquished) crest

of the major rod, another

its

expressive character

wrought formally with consummate Gonzalez was

at his best

the period after Picasso had

splendid works,

superb

Mane

poem with

the same

abandon

Woman

have noted, what ultimately

the naked beauty of the material,

the simplest, most linear sculptures in

Around

1934 he created one of his most

all

Probably that same year, he made

its

classical figural

a neck)

more

is

ing space, as in the nearly abstract Forme

tres

by

work from

that

of

fine of 1937

movement. These narrowed

his imitators.

Even

in

a variant,

of an abstraction, one could

visible welds, are characteristic of his

with

elements (the bottle-shaped

(cat.

other pieces, by leaving infinitesimal space between two cut,

lightly

itself

it.

round. Sometimes, Gonzalez fashions the

articulate a sense of rising

and

signs for hair

rounded volume of space, while thrusting

with a Mirror, which, for

classical bust in the

sculpture's

Here, the forged arc surmounted by the strands of

around

neck quite evidently represents

and the

The

no. 49), perhaps inspired by Charles Baudelaire's

(cat.

title.

into the space

represents a head. At the

skill.

the studio.

left

of Hair

is

when he made

flying hair engulfs a beautifully great

identification,

many commentators

this reading; but, as

gives the sculpture

it

cluster of shapes suggests a hand.

on anthropomorphic

verticality insists

hand support

to indicate that

finest,

most

of a

say,

tantaliz-

no. 59) and in several flat

planes of iron, to

apertures, joined ever so

mature work, and distinguish

works such

as Seated

Woman

1,

with

his its

enclosed volumes, Gonzalez leaves small apertures between forms, opening his sculpture to crosscurrents of space; and at the same time, he calls attention to the innate beauty of the metal and the elegance with which he has married the edges of parts with his torch.

merged

in the

Smith may have thought that

"craft

and smithery became sub-

concept of sculpture" in Gonzalez's mature period, but,

made Gonzalez's unexpected concept acquired through years of smithery.

in fact,

what

of sculpture singular was his second sense,


From universe

to universal

Gonzalez began one of

his published notes

many

which, he said, began

centuries ago

with

when

reference to "the age of iron,"

a

iron was

used to produce beau-

first

objects but, unfortunately, was used thereafter mostly for

tiful

eventually, bridges

and

railroads. "It

is

making arms and,

time this metal ceased to be

murderer and

a

the simple instrument of a supermechanical science," he declared, urging that

"forged and

with

its

hammered by

a

niques,

a

and

its

contempt

for superme-

very different iron age from that envisioned by two

Americans, Alexander Calder and Smith,

Both had

be

the peaceful hands of an artist."" Gonzalez's age of iron,

implicit denial of the machine-age aesthetic

chanical science, was

it

who made

iron and steel their province.

healthy respect for industrial materials, were familiar with factory tech-

and had

a

keen interest in the sciences. However, neither of them had for-

mulated an approach Picasso or Gonzalez,

to his art as assured as those of

who had had

seasoned

artists

such

as

Beaux-Arts training and had shared the cultural

milieu of Paris for thirty years.

American

artists in general,

their artistic culture

from

during the 1920s and 1930s, had had to contrive

variety of sources,

a

most of them secondhand from

Europe, and thus often suffered from an uneasy sense of colonial suspected that Art was born in Europe, and that

it

inferiority.

They

continued to flourish there, and

only there. So, during the 1920s, hundreds of expatriate Americans thronged boulevard cafes in Paris and hungrily sought the secrets of the

of things

simple

craved to get the

feel

and how

really lived in the great

Many had

about. tions,

artists

as

many ways found

Europeans,

who

it

it,

but

it

studio looked

They like,

came determined

New

New

York had so

to feast at the

easier to ingest the various tendencies

often arrived in Paris with a

York exhibi-

was important to experi-

centerâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; something

artistic

never succeeded in establishing. They

masters.

and fabled bohemia that they had read

and had seen magazine reproductions of

in

a "real" artist's

seen examples of European avant-garde art in

ence the ambience of an authentic

and

what

as

Modern

more formed

far

grand buffet,

than expatriate

ideological interest in

avant-garde tendencies. Calder,

who was by

nature gregarious, found

milieu to another in Paris, and never really tion in a sharply defined way.

He seemed

to

felt

it

simple to

move from one

the need to take an aesthetic posi-

wander about from studio

to studio at

39


random, taking inspiration where he found they used to

say, in

the

air.

He

and picking up ideas that were,

it

was relatively innocent of the tensions that led to

skirmishes between Cubists, Constructivists, and Surrealists, and was in

make

position than they to

just a

far better

own

artistic

formation shielded him from the

peril of

second-generation epigone. The son and grandson of established

and rather academic

unduly awed by notions of bohemia,

sculptors, Calder was not

known an American

having

a

a singular synthesis of their artistic convictions. In addi-

tion, the peculiarities of his

becoming

as

version in his

sometimes eccentric American

own home through which

various and

passed. His early mechanical aptitude

artists

had

brought him to the Stevens Institute of Technology, one of America's leading engineering schools, where he completed his studies as

deciding to study

He tumbled

art.

whose

mechanical engineer before

into art school in a rather casual way, where he

studied mainly with his parents' friend aesthete,

a

John Sloan,

lessons were not completely lost

on

radical

a political

and

artistic

Calder. Certainly Sloan's insis-

tence that his students should master contour-line drawing was vital to Calder's later

work. Joan Marter quotes excerpts from student notes taken in Sloan's

which Sloan describes

line as "entirely a sign, a

another passage, "An ideograph tries to say

ic

is

1923

to

is

in

mental invention,""' and declares,

in

A

art

better than the thing

the thing rather than be the thing

1

itself."

notion of line into his wire sculptures of the It

classes,

"

itself.

better

work of

Calder carried this ideograph-

late 1920s.

true that at the Art Students League, where Calder was a student

1925, the

emphasis on contour-line drawing was derived

Rodin and Matisse, and perhaps even older generation of American single-line drawings of

realists;

Picasso, as

and

it

is

much from

as

was from the teachings of the

even possible that Picasso's whimsical

clowns and harlequins of

Calder's earlier wire-line caricatures, were

it

from

known

19 18,

which look

to Calder

and

like

prototypes of

his classmates. Still,

the bias of most instructors toward realist illustration was probably the strongest ele-

ment

in Calder's training.

Even

tion was not completely absent, for

John Graham, turned up as

it

appeared in Calder's

the mysterious Russian cavalryman

a fellow

student

at

who

theories

40

of

listened with art.

who,

the Art Students League.

temporary of Picasso and was therefore an eminence mates,

however, the European orienta-

at that early stage,

wonder

to his tales

(Another Russian very

much

life

after a

in the

sojourn in

Graham was an

grise for his

Paris,

exact con-

much younger

of Europe and Russia and in

person of

class-

his eclectic

view during Calder's student years


who had

was Alexander Archipenko, himself

still

June

In

moored

to Paris, where, like

Academie de

the

la

international

Americans,

artists

who

community then

America, where

in

like a

including the

foreigners, he

all

went

accounts, that

to sketch class-

summer

1920s,

is

described,

somewhat

denigratingly, as

congregated in Paris during the years before the great stock-market crash a

language problem. They were unfamiliar with the small but

They had

to

make

way among

their

Even such major

by the indigenous

figures as Vasily

foreign to the French

Kandinsky and

as

Americans,

the margin of the French art world.

at

know

eign contingent got to

Piet

his first short sojourn that

few months before from London, and

who was

a scientist, trained in

common

that the for-

summer

who had

of

a

already acquainted with several sig-

it

all

in for a career as

longer stay in Paris the following

sculptor Jose de Creeft,

1926,

arrived a

common

an

artist.

piofessional background was important in Calder's evolution.

Calder returned for

fre-

with

geology and chemistry, and worked profession-

chemist in England before he threw

ally as a

naive, at the

lived, as did the

nificant artists of the international avant-garde. Hayter had a lot in

was

like

Mondrian were

The consequence was

immediately met the English-speaking Stanley William Hayter,

He

And

each other quickly, and tended to help newcomers find

way around. Calder, during

Calder.

sig-

different factions

artists as

way of thinking, and

quently seen

their

large

was identical to the attitudes of the other foreign

foreigners, they were always regarded least.

the twen-

sampling the

dilettante vacationer,

without the security of knowing the origins of various ideological quarrels.

very

irre-

inhabiting Montparnasse. Often the behavior of the

reality, their attitude

nificant differences in mores.

all

art

were taking advantage or the extremely favorable exchange of francs

They had

of 1929:

anomaly

no time establishing

his classmates,

most other

more

dollars during the mid-to-late

pragmatic. In

lost

and making the most of chance encounters with the rather

life

who

of

Grande Chaumiere. By

ty-eight-year-old Calder behaved delights of cafe

and

in conventional approaches.)

1926, Calder followed several

Graham,

pressible

and

1923

as a teacher of avant-garde sculpture, a rare

schools were

es at

arrived in

whose studio he often

visited,

fall,

This

When

he also met the Spanish

and where he

first

saw forged-

iron works by Gargallo.

According painter.

to Calder,

Others saw him

as

during his

first

years in Paris he thought of himself as a

an amusing humoristâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; good fun and an original. His

experiments with toys with movable parts, which he began in 1926, and his single-

41


line wire sculptures,

viewed

as

ous

as exotic

growing sense of malaise in the Parisian

interest

realizes

was the early version of his circus begun

Salmon,

artistique France

is

an introduction to

in

and

But

exciting.

must be added

it

world also led to

intellectual

the fruits of an extremely different culture.

in

what

"I

wonder

expecting of her," wrote the important

Graham

a

if

Homeric

"has struck us as transposition.

cubism

.

.

.

.

.

Andre

exhibition catalogue in 1929. Salmon, an

Whitman Graham

double and simultaneous phenomenon of assimilation and

This painter, away from our midst, deriving so to speak from

.

already restores

it

to us, at the

same time purified and enlarged."

Assimilation and transposition: Calder was

exposed himself

America

lyricism to our worn-out naturalism," and said that

a

a seri-

critic

intimate of Picasso and Apollinaire, pointed to the example of Walt "restoring

in

the beneficiary of a discernible fad in Pans, where Americans from

Baker to Calder himself were regarded that the

Josephine Baker, were

as the caricature of cabaret singer

and entertaining,

as refreshing

He was

1927.

such

many

in

a

master

.

.

.

;

VJ"

having

at assimilation,

studios to experiences that often represented contrasting

Alexander Calder, Josephine Baker, 192J-29. Iron-wire construction, pp

Through Hayter, who opened

artistic values.

1927,

he encountered

great

a

many

his etching studio Atelier 17

Surrealists,

Tanguy, and probably also Kandinsky,

whom

in late

including Eluard, Arp, and Yves

Hayter (and Graham) deeply admired.

Hayter's point of view was deeply influenced by his Surrealist friends as well as by

whose

the Russian master

be that Calder's

initial

radical vision of space he

is

a

development

certain

which can be seen

summarized

which Kandinsky's ideas

in a lecture in

There

It

may

in the early

his views

throughout the

prevail:

known

in art, generally

as

non-objective,

works of Kandinsky, where there

frame of reference but things are sometimes

motion, not

faithfully follow.

experiments with mobile elements were informed by Hayter's

assimilation of Kandinsky's principles. Hayter

prewar years

would

in the sense of successive

set

is still

up which appear

displacements

a static

to

be in

with the Futurists, but

as

themselves moving and involved with elements of speed and time.

dimension of timeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; the fourth dimensionâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; was added

to the

.

.

.

The

dimension of

space."'

Calder continued to several years. In the a

half.

It

was

in

fall

back and forth between

of 1928, he rented

1928 that he

friendship with the older

42-

travel

met Miro,

artist.

a

New

studio in Paris, for

visited his studio,

Miro took pleasure

in

York and Paris for a stay

of

and began

a year

and

his lifelong

encouraging Calder

to settle

p

!

/4

Gift

inches).

of the

The

artist.

x $6.6 x 24.5 cm (jp x 22

Museum of Modern

Art,

New

!

/s

x

York,


down

to explore

more ambitious avenues, and probably shared with Calder

enthusiasm for Paul Klee. Miro's his great appreciation

grounds

March

hand-carved

New

lor a real friendship. After a return visit to

1930,

of whimsy, and

interest in primitive art, his sense

for folk art, particularly

Calder took another studio in

provided the

toys,

York, from lune 1929 to

months

Paris. Six

his

he had

later

second

a

important encounter, which he always maintained provided the shock that brought

him

to abstract art: his visit to

was smitten not so

Mondrian's apartment-studio

much by Mondrian's

in

October

He

1930.

paintingsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; although he quickly adopted the

older master's habit of limiting his palette to the primary colors and black and

whiteâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; as by the radiant ambience of the carefully arranged studio,

Mondrian had tacked It

rectangles

would be hard

of

red, yellow,

and blue

to his white walls.

sudden swerve away from

to attribute Calder's

which

in

literal

depic-

tion to any particular influence, but there were several curious cultural conjunctions

and

was sliding had of

might be

historical facts that

mind

its

cited.

impact in Europe

The Great Depression making

as well,

that subsisted until the outbreak of

which America

into

for an unusually anxious state

World War

II.

From

the chorus of

laments over the general aesthetic confusion that had begun in the mid-i920s, several

The

voices emerged forcefully from different camps.

Surrealists

and the

Constructivists were both vociferously declaring their belief in the value of science,

but with very different tones of voice.

When

Breton, for instance, published his

novel Nadja in 1928, he included a photograph of a

flea

market that had

set

him

off

on the quest

Poincare Institute. That object, so mysterious in

was thought

lines,

and

his friends

tastic

to be a three-dimensional

a strange ob]ect

irregular shape

model of

saw these models of scientific thought

depths of the

human

mathematical models

for

its

a

as

Among who

the

an affirmation of the fan-

Doesburg and

Dada and

to Paris in the

the initial

his close friend Arp; others

De

who had

Stijl

knew Mondrian's studio

Gemeentemuseum

in Paris, 1933. Courtesy

the

modern

of

science.

1930s, there were artists

principles, such as

van

witnessed the abstract, often

machine-oriented constructions undertaken in the Bauhaus; and

Piet

among

accompaniment

non-objective art that they regarded as parallel to

were descendants of both

and network of

imagination. However, Calder's friends

many Europeans who moved

the

at

population graph. Breton

Parisian Constructivists saw scientific paradigms as the necessary a progressiva,

he had found in

still

others

who

the original Russian avant-garde that, like Vladimir Tatlin, had drawn quasi-

Haags scientific principles

from

Picasso's initial experiments with Cubist structures. Calder

43


soon came into contact with most of these

as well

artists,

the French painters

as

Robert Delaunay and Jean Helion, when he joined Abstraction-Creation in the winter

of

That same winter he embarked on

19^1.

an innovative abstract

his career as

sculptor in metal.

By the time an exhibition of Calder's Percier in April

1931, Paris

abstract sculpture

had seen the works of

opened

several artists

at

the Galerie

who had begun

to

work with open-form metal construction. Calder's friend Isamu Noguchi, who had Exhibition of work by Alexander Calder at the Galerie

worked ting

it

was experimenting with sheet-brass, curving

in Brancusi's atelier,

into irregular free-form shapes that recalled the

it

and

cut-

Percier, Paris,

1931.

biomorphic shapes used by

both Arp and Miro during that period. Transparency

as a

sculptural value was

increasingly discussed by critics, and works by well-known sculptors such as Jacques

Lipchitz and Henri Laurens demonstrated the principle in the late 1920s. But Calder's exhibition struck a particular chord, especially the delicate wire constructions grouped under the

"Volumes

title

-

Vectors

showing together with "Drawings and Portraits" friend Fernand Legerâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; whom he had also

met

-

Densities" (which Calder was

in wire).

1930â&#x20AC;&#x201D; wrote that Calder's whimsy

in

had released him from Neo-Plasticism, permitting him "the wire became taut, geometric, perfectly time, deliberate anti-romanticism

Leger in Calder's

may have approved

embodying

dominated by

For the catalogue, his

works

to create

the plastic in

art,

in

which

the present

a striving for equilibrium."

40

of the "objective" and antiromantic attitude he saw

new works, but Calder himself had ambitions

that were quite in keeping

with romanticism, especially the imaginative variety that his friend Miro incorporated into his paintings of

stars

and planets

in the

cosmos, which he rendered,

Klee, as simple circles floating in space. Calder himself spoke of the

he called "Universes" talk

many

as

having some kind of universal or cosmic

years later, in 195

established in

to

work from.""

feeling,

and

art

come

of the universe, or part thereof. For this Earlier, he

Out

into being?

He

in a

spoke seriously of the underlying motifs that he had

1,

had given

a

is

my

a rather large

statement for the Abstraction-

Creation almanac of 1932, in which he opened with the rhetorical question: does

had

group of works

1930 and never abandoned: "The underlying sense of form in

work has been the system

model

as

how

answered:

of the volumes, motion, spaces carved out within the surrounding space,

the universe.

.

.

.

Out

Isamu Noguchi, Leda, 1927. Brass and marble, $9.2 x

of directional lineâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; vectors representing motion, 36.2 x 28

velocity, acceleration, energy, etc.

44

.

.

.

Spaces and volumes created by the

cm

(2}

'/>

Noguchi Foundation,

x 14 Inc.

'/<

x 11

inches).

The Isamu


opposition to their mass, or penetrated by vectors, traversed by

slightest

momentum. None of back and forth in universe.

4

a

this

fixed.

is

Each element can move,

changing relation to each of the other elements

linear wire structures, so slender that they circles of

would

showed experiments with

sound of

as a child

a

wooden

by what he called eighteenth-century toys demonstrating

may have been

Copernican armillary sphere.

4

new

'

move

"mobiles," in which the element of

sions of

random movement

who seemed

to have

dynamic equilibrium, described

his

own

and that

red-painted

a

five thin

aluminum

Red

Discs (also

He

said that he

suspended

a wire,

effect

1930. Calder's

been compared

two-

was that when one of the

pieces was lightly touched, the entire sculpture

lyrical

a

giving the cantilever

initial

became

experiments

short step to the hanging mobile that Calder developed later in the

which he achieved the

known

disks, projecting at right angles, were held in

wooden sphere counterweight. The

aluminum

dubbed by Duchamp

utilized to achieve a shift-

is

mated, quivering and slightly shifting in space. From such a

using only gravity and

Object with

meter rod with one heavy sphere from the apex of

position by

later,

been interested in Mondnan's discus-

as Calderberry Bush, cat. no. 67) in similar terms.

effect,

by attaching rudimentary

the elements. In 1932, he created several works,

ing equilibrium. Calder,

metaphors

In any case, the works of 1932 led directly to Calder's

machineryâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; a simple motor drive or hand crankâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; and to

abstract

suggested by mechanical orreries such as the

early experiments with kinetic pieces, at first achieved

wind

spheres, attached

small clapper. Marter notes that Calder had

the planetary system, and suggests convincingly that these for the universe

delicate

vibrate to the footsteps of visitors.

bent wire were punctuated with tiny

so as to almost suggest the

been fascinated

in this

'

In the Galerie Percier exhibition, Calder

The empty

or sway

shift,

it

ani-

was

1930s, in

expression of the universe that he had sought since

achievement in introducing an aleatory principle in sculpture has to the

achievements of avant-garde composers,

Varese (who also created a composition he called Density

among them Edgar

21. 5).

It

is

certainly the

source of most kinetic sculpture ever since, ranging from Takis to Pol Bury.

Toward the

late 1930s,

Calder began to work with more fantastic shapes, prob-

ably encouraged by his closer relationships with various Surrealist revealed his affinities with Gonzalez steel,

cutting

them

and Picasso, bending

into billowing, twisting shapes,

artists.

Here he

large sheets of iron or

and bolting them together, proto-

45


types of the huge public, bolted stabiles (aptly described by Gauguin's phrase "bolt-

making

ed monsters") that he began

New

York in

who brought him for

which

and

19^7,

to

after

World War

II.

meet the architects ol the 1937 World's Fair Spanish Pavilion,

Gonzalez, and Picasso were preparing works. Calder,

he,

members

asked to create

Calder to take his place. In

and when

a

mercury fountain defaulted, Josep

many ways

Spanish

artist

Lluis Sert asked

this extraordinary collaboration

can be seen

the culmination of the American's long interaction with Spanish artistsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; a

moment when

New

the torch that passed from Picasso to Gonzalez was

handed

to the

World. American ingenuity, ambivalently admired and despised by Europeans,

became, als,

a

who maintained

or Paris's Spanish colony, and whose

politics were always to the left, volunteered his services,

who had been

in

Calder visited Miro,

called "stabiles." In Paris that spring,

friendships with several important

as

These works were shown

mercurial flash, something essential. The drive to conquer

in a

going back

to the earliest

decade of the century, found

its

new

materi-

ultimate expression in

Calder's harnessing the volatile and dense substance mercury to produce not only

movement, but new relationships

of color

and tone.

No

doubt

it

was

and

a great

symbolic satisfaction both for Calder and his American colleagues to see in

all

the

photographs of the Spanish Pavilion, Picasso's epoch-making Guernica behind the Mercury Fountain.

David Smith "there where the others

Calder had York.

left

By the

fall

of 1927,

New

a

New

full-time student at the League, where he too

got anarchy and cubes from

them about Kandinsky, and urged upon

John Sloan""). But within at

a

the league, where he

In

York

his students

Smith always maintained had been crucial

1929, Alfred H. Barr, Jr. inaugurated the its

first

ment. That same

coherent

year,

series of exhibitions

to

his

an attitude of explo-

development

Museum of Modern

agent ol frank Crowninshield,

a

collector

New

as

an

Art, giving

documenting the Modern move-

Smith met Graham, who by that time had become

cant figure in the avant-garde art world of

46

year before Smith arrived in

whole generation of painters with the principles of European Cubism,

a

ration that artist.

("I

Smith was

a

Czech-born painter Jan Matulka was teaching

year, the

talked to

not"

the Art Students League in 1925,

learned from Sloan

imbued

art

York

of primitive

at

least partly

art,

a signifi-

because, as the

Graham was

able to visit


and could bring back the news of the

Paris frequently

Through Graham, Smith met others of

acolytes.

de Kooning and Arshile Gorky, as well

as the

his

own

generation, such as

older Stuart Davis,

him, were avid for news from the French capital and open

Smith often

One

Graham's

of the important aspects of

and

interests

and

which Smith saw

James Joyce, who would remain

fundamental

catalysts in Smith's

which was unique

literary

Monuments and always kept them), and

to

a

encountered the

first

primary source of inspiration. While

by Picasso and,

formation

especially,

as a sculptor,

stress

it

is

Gonzalez, were the

Joyce contributed to that

Smith: his surging emotional, almost dianstic attitude toward

work, and his stubborn insistence on the painterly foundation for his

The Joycean

on

free association

instanceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; suited his temperament. his

broad intellectual

works regularly (he tore out the pages of

Picasso's

true that the reproductions of works

his

lay in his

Minotaure. But there was also transition, in which Smith of

like

own development.

younger friends keep up with both the

1929 issue reproducing Picasso's Projects for

work

of whom,

of the sophisticated international world. Naturally, these included

art journals

later

all

Willem

to all the shifting winds.

essential contribution to his

Graham's influence

his insistence that his

Cahiers d'art, in a

recalled

young

great world to his eager

and wordplayâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; so adaptable

When, during

his

mature

years,

life's

work.

to collage, for

Smith wrote of

work, he often alluded to Joyce, and sometimes, in his diction, there are imita-

tions of Joyce's approach:

Grand Conception, but

Rarely the one, then

a

preoccupation with parts.

a

whole. The afterimages of parts

By his

all

them"

4 ''

are

no longer

parts but a

back on the horizon, very distant cousins

when Smith probably made

his first

to sculpture were already in place.

erratic course in

ism

lie

when they

image formed by the finished work."

1932,

approach

with

unit of parts, until a whole appears. Parts have unities and associ-

ations and separate afterimagesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; even

to the

start

I

which the

came on me

at

fact that

welded works, the rudiments of

But

its

full

"Mondrian, cubism, constructivism and

one time, without

sometimes undermined the

my

clarity of his conceptions,

enjoyed by

New

mid-1950s,

when

York

aesthetic diversity

artists.

That

liberal

the Depression, with

its

surreal-

even knowing the difference between

sionally into rather banal experiments. Yet, like his friends,

Smith benefited from the

evolution followed an

and

who

led

were

him

all

occa-

painters,

and general absence of partisanship

atmosphere

lasted until the

depths of the

unique by-product of federally sponsored

47


brought forth

art projects,

demand

strong social

a

for realist (and nationalist) art. At

that point, Smith, along with other progressive artistsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; including his friends de

Kooning, Gorky, Jean Xceron, Davis, and Adolph Gottlieb,

became

Modernism, which was under

fervent standard-bearers of

wrote that "belligerent vitality and conviction" attributes

of the creative

ing those confused years ist

artist.

when

His

own

many

so

1

Smith

attack.

later

were, along with affection, the

belligerent vitality was artists felt

few-

just a

immense, even dur-

torn between their vaguely social-

or anarchist political convictions and their fundamental belief in the formal,

ahistorical values of

Modern

art.

During the mid-to-late committed

to the

Modern

problems of society

1930s,

American

myth

The new emphasis on the

at large.

machine was

of the

revived,

a

summer

holiday as

a

virtues of the

artists,

working

young

among them

class,

The

artists.

Smith, vaunted

in

a

factory that produced tanks

when he was and locomo-

being an equal with skilled workers never abated.

he found the Terminal Iron Works workshop in Brooklyn in 1932 and rented

corner of

later,

drawn into the

welder and riveter in an automobile plant

during the war. His pride

When

were otherwise deeply

for art, deeply affected

and many

nineteen years old, and later worked in tives

who

which they encountered the working man. Smith had

their earthy experiences in

spent

artists

tradition were, through circumstances,

and on the need of some of the masses

a

mention

to

in

near the forge, he rejoiced in his ability to get

it

1950,

he even

made

blacksmith named Blackburn

a

sculpture in

(cat.

homage

to

on with

one of the owners, an

artist,

consciously adopted as

the elegance of the European tradition: Jackson Pollock always insisted

and experiences,

Many commentators

as

Irish

no. in). (Smith was not alone in developing the

manly image of the working American

ing-class origins

the workers;

did Franz Kline, Clyfford

Still,

and

a

contrast to

on

his

work-

others.)

have connected the Abstract Expressionists' radical

departure from European sources with the generally pragmatic attitudes of

Americans and ture;

but

scale or

a

their long habituation to

more

specific source of the sweeping,

monumental

as legitimate

48

also

felt a

first

members of

sorship legitimized them. But

Modernism,

open

cul-

gestures, the desire for large-

images, and the adventurous bravura was the conflict spawned

during the Depression. That was the

acknowledged

advanced technology and skyscraper

many

time that modern American

society, at least insofar as

artists

felt

government spon-

of them, while maintaining their aggressive

wistful need to function with the

muscled power, the swag-


gering gait of the worker as he was idealized during that brief flirtation with socialism. Leger's visit to

New

York

mid-1950s was

in the

a great success in large

measure

because his modern idiom was adapted to social ideals, couched in terms of ence-organized-by-society" socialism. As brief as this phase was,

on Smith who, Italy in

an abandoned factory

workers, he in his

in his last years,

felt at

home;

it

at Voltri.

situation

of Smith and

tumultuous

cant difference:

New

of the

during the

artists in Paris,

Museum

late 1930s

was certainly

but there was one signifi-

of Modern Art, in which Barr was com-

of the century's diverse

artistic heritage. In the signal year

two epoch-making exhibitions organized on broad interna-

Cubism and Abstract Art followed by Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism.

Both exhibitions had immediate

and

in

There, side by side with skilled Italian iron-

his generation

as that

York had the

1936, Barr presented

artists.

most extraordinary works

was, as he said, the nearest thing to a socialist experience

as intellectually

tional lines:

in Voltn, Italy, 1962.

mark

48

piling the first overview

David Smith

his

left a lasting

life.

The

of

produced some of

it

"sci-

effects

on the work of the younger New York

But Cubism and Abstract Art was perhaps more influential, for in the show

in the

catalogueâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; which made

not only to gather works from

its

many

way into

virtually every studioâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; Barr

countries, but to touch

upon

managed

every single twen-

tieth-century avant-garde tendency, and even to acknowledge the importance of the

young by including works by Calder and Alberto Giacometti. Barr noted the new tendency toward nongeometric abstraction, talked about "abstract biomorphic" and

and in general

"abstract expressionist" approaches,

tried to bring together diverse

views under the rubric of abstraction. As a result, American

could work more

freely,

artists

drawing upon whatever resources they

felt

found that they an affinity

for,

without being mired in ideological campaigns.

When still

his initial

experiments with welding around 1932-33, he

as a painter.

His work reflected the popularity of Picasso's

Smith began

thought of himself

Synthetic Cubist approach

among

and Graham, who de Kooning

artists

he associated with, especially Davis, Gorky,

said were so close that they were called the Three

Musketeers. These three ringleaders prided themselves on their free adaptations of

European

styles,

and tended

to include local allusions to real places

in their paintings. Picasso was very

much

and

real

things

with the American painters of the 1930s,

not only through reproductions in magazines but also experienced directly through the inclusion of his work in various exhibitions.

One

truly catalytic painting, The

49


Studio (1927-28, cat. no.

19),

had been seen

creation and, in 1935, entered the

Smith kept which

a close

Museum

in reproduction within

months

of

its

of Modern Art's permanent collection.

watch on Picasso, and inspired by the issue of Cahiers d'art in

Picasso's wire sculptures

had been reproduced, began

his intermittent experi-

ments with welded and forged sculpture.

Smith often traced presence

first

own

his

evolution for interviewers, always stressing the

of Picasso and then of Gonzalez in

he was a painter for

whom

the canvas eventually

his imagination,

became the ground

method of composing works

stands to reason that Smith's

of the collage technique with which he experimented

and adding that for sculpture.

in direct metal

in the early 1930s.

It

grew out

A

direct-

metal sculptor usually cuts his larger elements and spreads them out on the floor, all

the while imagining their evolution. In effect, Smith was working horizontally

with

relief

elements closely related to his drawings and paintings. The practice of

contour-line drawing that had been drilled into

stood

him

in

good

stead. All

caught his eye, producing

a

him

at the

Art Students League

during the 1930s he assimilated and adapted whatever

sequence of works in which the

suggested by the works of other

artists.

In 1934 in

New

initial

impulse had been

York, he saw an exhibition

of sculpture by Gargallo and an exhibition of "Abstract Sculpture" by Giacometti the Julien Levy Gallery. Gargallo's curved planes of sheet metal immediately

at

made

their appearance in Smith's work, while Giacometti's Surrealist freedom, his use of

the horizontal plane as both base and sculpture, and the irrationality of his imagery

began to appear in Smith's drawings. Also in 1934, Graham gave Smith a small work by Gonzalez and showed him two others in his possession. In great pilgrimage to Europe, stopping in Paris, latest

1935,

Smith began

where Graham educated him

his

in the

developments, visiting the Soviet Union, and then returning to Paris and

spending several weeks

in Hayter's Atelier 17,

where he certainly encountered

a great

deal of Surrealist talk.

Smith returned

to

New

York in July 1936â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a

New

York that had been galva-

nized by Barr's exhibitions. Smith, an assiduous reader, talker, and searcher, would

have had the glimmering of possible syntheses of

all

he had seen in Europe by

perusing Barr's catalogue for Cubism and Abstract Art. There, Barr had reproduced

one of the "from the

five

Giacomettis in the show, Head-landscape (1932), which, he said, was

Surrealist point

of view,

Pablo Gargallo, Greta Garbo, 1930. Iron, 20 x 10 x

a successful plastic

pun, but

it

is

also an interest20 cm (j

ing biomorphic abstraction and a solution of one of the problems which has recent-

50

'//

x } "Ae x 7

"/.ÂŤ

inches).

Centra dc Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid.

Museo Nacional


ly

held the attention of sculptors, namely the composition of isolated forms which

Arp had

suggested in his reliefs and which Giacometti carries further in his project

for a City Square." 49 In the

same catalogue, Barr reproduced

Harp

Player of 1931, both of

them

as abstract

which

anthropomorphic

utilize coiling

Lipchitz's Elle

wiry elements. Barr described

figures achieving great formal interest

transparent effect of intertwining lines.

50

and

by their

work strongly reminiscent of Miro) and

Barr also showed Calder's 1936 mobile

(a

had recently abandoned

said that Calder

geometric shapes in favor of irregular, quasi-organic forms. Fortified by the arguments proposed in this important exhibition

many

Smith, and voice.

The

American

late

other

1930s

artists

artists in

and

strike

New

York, were inspired to seek their

ownâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; some

own

tone of

saw innumerable

early 1940s, as troubling as they were,

out on their

and book,

out of despair over their long

apprenticeship to the Europeans, others out of an exuberant, dawning confidence in Jacques Lipchitz,

Harp

work), 26.6 cm (10

Marlborough

Gallery,

Player, '/t

New

ioji. Bronze (unique

inches) high. York.

Courtesy of

their

own

artistic destiny.

There was

a strong feeling

among

artists

of Smith's genera-

tion that the only answer to their various artistic dilemmas was a kind of reckless

decision to experiment, take risks, and, as so

unknown. Smith was among them.

A new

his iron construction Suspended Figure of

many of them

sculptor

is

his point

are

enough drawings

marked

out into the

quixotic and whimsical note occurred in 1935 (cat. no.

expression two years later in Billiard Player Construction

which there

said, strike

100), (cat.

and found

no. 103), a

its

full

work

for

to suggest Smith's process. Smith's audacity as a

in this adaptation

of Picasso's painting vocabulary, for certainly

of view was strongly influenced by

Picasso's The Studio and, perhaps even

more, by Painter and Model, both completed in 1928. Billiard Player Construction organic references within a geometric linear framework, and the

humor

in translat-

ing the rounded joint of the wire billiard cue, are Picassoesque. But there

thing of Smith's

own

here too.

He

sculptural canons by establishing

means of

%

is

some-

has, with considerable boldness, defied the usual

what Edward

F.

Fry called a "space frame" as

a

establishing a pictorial plane for a frontal but nevertheless three-dimen-

sional composition/

1

This pictorial element in which Smith also proposed anthro-

pological references remained an essential part of Smith's vocabulary throughout his life.

He

never flinched from what

many

artists

of his period would have

called,

scornfully, literary references. His Joycean impulse was to invent arresting forms that

carried their story with them. Smith's sense of freedom toward the

end of the 1930s

was undoubtedly enhanced by the example of Giacometti, whose The Palace

at

5i


4 A.M. was a celebrated work, as was the horizontal no. 92). In 1937,

Smith produced

Woman

with

Her Throat Cut

adapted version of

Interior (cat. no. 104), a freely

Giacometti's palace, decidedly frontal; and in 1939, Interior for Exterior a

in

(cat.

(cat.

no. 106),

complicated fusion of Surrealist fantasy and Constructivist geometric structuring

which the automatistic

with that

scribblelike use

"space frame."

a rectilinear

He

same year composed Reclining parody of Picasso's

cal joints in a

By defiant

steel

and bronze

is

juxtaposed

hadn't forgotten Picasso's lessons, however, and

Figure (cat. no. 107), using iron rods

and spheri-

first linear pieces.

Smith had joined others of

the time the war came,

mood, proclaiming

of wrought

his generation in a

the right to use any motif or means. Their iconoclasm

Alberto Giacometti,

71.8 x 40

extended to

a

and space and

kind of syncretism, allowing them to weave back and forth in time to

draw upon any impressions that they might

recollect.

Appearing

in

Smith's notebooks and sketches of the war period and for a few years after are Surrealist automatistic exercises,

and ambiguous forms

that such painters as Gorky,

de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and Gottlieb were also using. Smith also responded to the dark

mounting

Surrealist

Medals for Dishonor, demonstrating his defiance toward

pressures of the world in 1939 with the anecdotal, quasistylistic rules

by

declaring his inspiration from ancient coins and, at the same time, his moralistic political indignation in classical caricature tinged

Smith wrote

in the early 1950s,

Do we

by Surrealist derision. Sometime

in his notebook:

do bad works

dare

often they are the best in such a sense

bad

but inwardly the

and he

is

is

only the external opinion

artist feels

new depths

already there where

the others are not

or

He had

may not

get for a generation.

52

been gearing up for the "bad works" by his eclectic fusions such

the Welder

of 1945

(cat.

no. 108), in

which

literary

metaphors

are

as

Home

of

rampant and the

juxtaposition of disparate parts in a framed stage (or box, as in the Joseph Cornell

works he had also seen) provide to prevailing sculptural

By

1950, the

a

stream-of-consciousness atmosphere quite foreign

modes.

"new depths" the

artist

inwardly

felt

(so

much

like Picasso's defi-

nition of freedom as "the act of freeing something in oneself") were

52

plumbed with

The Palace

at 4. A.M.,

and

Construction in wood, glass, wire,

cm (2s x 28

of Modern Art,

New

'/ÂŤ

x i$ /4 3

inches).

York, Purchase.

/pj2-jj.

string,

The

6j.$

x

Museum


show

increasing assurance. Smith's works of the 1950s

and

one work

in

after

his

another he was able to produce

complete coming of age, a

commanding

presence

unlike anything that had preceded. Smith continued his exploration of the "space

frame" in

At

scale.

no.

a

first

group of welded-steel compositions on an increasingly monumental there were the candid drawings in space, such as The Letter

of 1950

(cat.

an abacuslike compendium of framed signs reminiscent of both Torres-

113),

Garcia and Gottlieb. Then there were the airborne drawings in space, such as the

Hudson River Landscape of

195

(cat.

1

no.

115),

of which Smith spoke

in several state-

ments, always stressing the psychological source in the fluid movement of travel

through

landscape and the free associations that the various elements can inspire.

a

That same

year,

Smith welded the

of Gonzalez into

a

triumphant Australia, bringing the lessons

large,

new monumental

realm, and a year later he began the Agricola

sculptures (sometimes referred to as a series, but in Smith's view, grouped together

only because they comprised "many found objects, tural

implements that have functioned in the past

1952,

Smith worked on diverse standing

which he harked back both

1960s.

title

era, "" cat. nos.

such

as The

Hero

116-17).

Also in

no. 118), in

(cat.

whose organic incorporation of pedestal

to Brancusi,

and work had impressed Smith, and grouped under the

figures,

hand-forged parts of agricul-

like

to Miro, leading

him

into the powerful works

Tank Totem, beginning in 1953 and continuing into the

The element of the base of an

magic touchstone, allowing Smith

industrial tank became, in these works, the

make

to give free play to his increasing desire to

great signs, resembling semaphores, against the sky.

By

new try

this time,

Smith was cutting

curved members and welding them into

large,

him

to

recalling Gonzalez, as in the clusters

of

configurations with great assurance. His mastery of his means enabled

many

different techniques,

some fondly

short elements found in Gonzalez's

and translated by Smith

Head

Called "The Snail" of 1935

in the Timeless Clock

robust conformation (which

is

of 1957

also related to Calder's

(cat.

no.

(cat.

no. 51)

more

123) into a

cosmic imagery analogous

to

the orrery). Gonzalez and Picasso are also recalled in a group of a dozen forged-steel

works of tive,

David Smith,

Australia, 1951- Painted

2J4 x 41 cm (jg

'A

x ioj

Art,

New

x 16

'/Âť

steel,

202 x

inches).

which Smith drew out the

lines

slender figures, a motif later elaborated in the

he called

Sentinels (cat. no. 120).

Many of

of

his steel bars into

The

these vertical works emerged

sugges-

of Gonzalez, particularly works such

as

The

that

from Smith's

Dream of

Museum of

York, Gift of William Rubin.

tall,

composed works of 1956-57

inches); at base

careful evaluation

}$.6 x 35.6 cm (14 x 14

Modern

Vs

1955, in

Gonzalez, Smith returned again and again to the translation of the erect

193 1. Like

human

fig-

53


ure into a resounding composite of allusions. In

many

works, he continued to use

color to emphasize implied volumes. But in the 1950s, he rarely used color illusion-

he had, for instance, in the works of the 1930s. At times,

istically, as

works grouped under the

umes

title

as in the late

Cubi, Smith burnished the surfaces of his

steel vol-

in order to suggest the painter's scumble, insisting always that the painter's

prerogatives could be joined with the sculptor's. In this he was faithful to Picasso,

who, painter that he was, used paint on

The immense

vitality that

his metal constructions to unify

Smith displayed

iron age was extraordinarily evident during his Voltri series, the

My

aim

at a

apogee of the whole tradition.

in material function

is

in this developing history

He had

the

written as early as 1952:

the same as in locomotive building: to arrive

no accepted theory

to

of the

when he produced

last years,

given functional form in the most efficient manner.

method bows

them.

of fabrication.

It

The locomotive

utilizes the respective

merits of casting, forging, riveting, arc and gas welding, brazing, silver soldering. It

combines

bolts, screws, shrink fits— all because

ciency in arriving at an object or form in function.

of their respective

effi-

54

Although Smith's grand vision of locomotive building certainly moved him outside the pale of

European sculpture, he carried on— much

principles laid

He

down by

to his credit— the

Picasso and Gonzalez, but without being trameled by them.

furthered a technique and a vocabulary of forms.

syntax any

more than

a

poet does

when he

plays

He

did not change sculptural

on the sonnet form. What Smith

among forms and

did was to express passionate intuitions through his choices

ways of construing them,

upon old memories

fundamental

as

of the

does a poet with words. In

Voltri

sculptor's table reminiscent

he not only called

work of Picasso and Gonzalez, but he

Giacometti, too, such as in the marvelous wheeled Voltri VII

the

(cat.

recalled

no. 124) and the

of Giacometti's 1933 bronze. The delights he had experi-

enced working uninterrupted in

Italy carried into the last year

of

his

life,

i*ie**vt%saQF. -H3 a*+i*£Ka<&*±.^ .?.. .su> <**u**iifcju>..

when he

David Smith, Wagon

produced the

large

wheeled fantasies he called Wagon, one of which returns in very 1 11.

large scale as straightforward forged iron,

54

rounding the

circle

of the iron

age.

8

cm (10 j

'/.•

x

II,

in

1964. '/>

Candida and Rebecca Smith.

Steel,

x 44

275.1

inches).

x 282.6 x

Collection

of


The new psychological realm of Giacometti

In

began

1928, the year that Picasso

seven-year-old Giacometti,

still

with Gonzalez, the twenty-

his collaboration

an occasional

Grande Chaumiere, had the good luck

two sculptures exhibited

to have

introduced him to the group of renegade Surrealists

Miro, and, most important, the young poet

then had been

a lonely foreigner, often desperately depressed,

x 3

'/

4

inches).

who

until

was suddenly part of a

him

Alberto Giacometti, Gazing Head, 1929. Marble, 41 x '/%

Giacometti,

placed

at the center

of their own campaign against received ideas in Western

summarized the situation of sculpture

ism.

.

.

.

at that

original exteriority, the object in sculpture

its

denying in appearance

x 14

among them

French group that not only encouraged his volatile impulses but quickly

From

'/s

Leiris.

the

at

largely

culture. Breton

57 x 8 cm (16

rue Blomet,

at the

la

who immediately

Jeanne Bucher Gallery. There he was spotted by Andre Masson,

Bataille,

Academie de

art student at the

as

it

two great

traversed the

Emerging from these movements,

became increasingly

crises

found

it

moment:

itself

self-

of cubism and futurputting

its

resources,

Kunsthaus in constructivism, against the

Zurich, Property of the Alberto Giacometti Foundation.

mathematical

From

scene radiating a faultless, overwhelming elegance.

no

joys solid

on

and the hollow (Moore), art,

own

its

appeared on the

just

that

moment

it

had

ashes, achieving this

the growing power of automation (Arp), the pure

of equilibrium (Calder), the inescapable,

principleâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; Egyptian art

from

alternative but to arise, phoenix-like,

renascence by calling

had

object that

or,

dialectical play

between the

safeguarded by constant reference to

first

the evolving art of Persia, Assyria and Babylon, the

of the Cyclades group of the Aegean Islandsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; all the resources of the mod-

ern poetic magic (Giacometti)."

The work

that

what Giacometti

had

first

to a

completed during the winter of

called his "plaque" sculptures,

1927-28. This was the first

him

captured Masson's attention was Gazing Head, one of

new road

after

of

his

much

works that the young sculptor searching.

And

yet,

Giacometti's characteristic doubt, which so endeared bled and doubting friends

make something feeling for

I

among

the writers,

is

form that

is

inside

you and you want

when he

him

I

felt

to bring

important works of the next few

years.

Through

talked about

I

actually

about them? it

outside?"

about things, and a certain feeling for form, would be held in in his

had brought it,

to his increasingly trou-

primary: "Did

saw in things, or express the way

felt

a

s6

Or

want

to

a certain

How

he

felt

remarkable tension

his art,

Giacometti was

a

55


most eloquent spokesman ty

of things. The son of an

well

equipped to his

and accomplished

intelligent

Aside from his studies in

task.

then with Antoine Bourdelle, he had had

ing from his father. In his various

a

thorough training

set

up

would

later

be of crucial significance.

a still life of pears,

drawing and paint-

in

Stampa,

his early years in

around eighteen, he had

to Giacometti, that at the age of

He

came

with Archipenko and

Paris, first

memoirs of

total instabili-

painter, Giacometti

Switzerland, he always stressed his training in draftsmanship.

conflict that

of the

for the prevailing sense in the 1930s

was then, according

It

of

his first intimation

how

described

his father

a

had

and how he had drawn them increasingly smaller, defying

centuries of tradition by ignoring foreshortening in favor of the

way things

at a dis-

tance are really seen: small and bereft of the third dimension. In Paris, Giacometti

doggedly pursued through drawing perception.

A

mid-i920S as

a

burgeoning insight about the psychology of

cramped hotel room

fellow student described Giacometti in his a passionate

in the

draftsman: "To get to the basics of a face he would indiHenri Laurens, Large

and connect them with

cate the significant points with dots

plex system of coordinates."

57

This

method— much

up— was

with "points in space" that had to be linked

of Cubist precedents.

When

like that

fine lines, like a

Gonzalez had spoken

developed with

full

Picasso's

made

a

cm (28

Woman

with a Mirror, 1929.

inches) high.

Musee

des Beaux-Arts,

Nancy.

he began to explore the modern idioms of sculpture,

taken their cues from Picasso: Archipenko, Lipchitz, and above

he

of,

Bronze, ji

knowledge

Giacometti had in mind the works he had recently seen by three sculptors

whom

com-

who had

Laurens, to

all

special pilgrimage in the mid-i920s. Giacometti also

own experiments with phenomenological

perception, such as

knew

making pin-

head figures to create the illusion of distance, and playing with perceptual ambiguities

and anamorphic perspectives

works such

in

as Painter

and Model

of 1928.

Like other sculptors in the age of iron, Giacometti had also considered the

work of Brancusi. In

his

Woman of

Spoon

1926

lowed oval torso, there are shades of Brancusi,

and African sources. The slender

no. 86), with

(cat.

of Cycladic,

as well as

plaster slabs that

make

Cocteau remarked, "such powerful

snow

that preserves the footprint

the essence of his

light sculpture

of

a bird."**

.

gently hol-

New

Guinean,

Giacometti turned into planar

heads the following year— his "plaque" sculptures— show reductions that he would later

its

.

.

him moving toward

style.

that

The works of

They

one

is

the

constituted, as led to speak

1928-29, although

of

mod-

Pablo Picasso, Painter and Model, Paris, 1928. Oil on

canvas, 129.8 x i6j

eled rather than welded

and

spoon, metamorphosed into

56

still

carrying the imagery derived from the folk-art

a sign for

woman. However, they

are already

opening

The

Museum

and

Harriet

cm (51

of Modern

Jams

Art,

Collection.

'/»

New

x 64

'/4

inches).

York, The Sidney


and pure undulating,

out, incorporating levels of space

Woman Who Dreams

Reclining

the fierce lessons of Bataille,

By

no. 89).

(cat.

linear

movement,

in

as

that time, Giacometti was imbibing

whose "metaphysics of cruelty and

self-derision," " as

Yves Bonnefoy has called Bataille's preoccupation with violent imagery, for deeply affected Giacometti. The stabbing gesture in

Man and Woman

(cat.

time

a

no. 88)

is

and moves into space with the linear force that Picasso had

explicitly sexual

unleashed in 1928-30. Leiris,

who

published an

newly founded review Documents on

article in the

Giacometti's most recent works in 1929, spoke of the young sculptor passionately.

He

pointed out that "everything he makes

moments we ceived

crises,

which

from the

live

and immediately internalized adventure."

ter to Pierre

vision of I

experience as

Matisse, spoke of his

reality,

saw, a kind

work

60

intensity

of

as giving

him some

but lacking "a sense of the whole, a structure, also

of skeleton

in space."

6 '

Leiris's allusion to

the personal experience of an exceptionally sensitive

a quickly per-

Giacometti himself, in

Later,

time

at that

fixation of one of those

like a

is

a let-

part of his

a

sharpness that

moments of

crises refers to

artist,

but the widespread

feel-

ing of general crisis in Europe at that time certainly contributed to the heightened

emotional tone of

Leiris

and of scores of other

writers.

This was not a vague or sen-

timental feeling. There were real events from 1930 until the war that

more than

intellectual crises.

pany the showing of

To

cite just

one instance:

Alberto Giacometli, Suspended Ball, 1930-31. Plaster

and

metal, 61 x

36 x 33.5 cm (24 x 14

'/s

x

Patriots

A

November

their film L'Age d'or at Studio 28, Luis

Dali arranged for an exhibition of works by

other Surrealists.

in

1930, to

Ernst,

Man

first

night,

members of

and the League Against Jews (Ligue

antijuive)

to

accom-

Buhuel and Salvador

Max

few days after the riotous

amounted

Ray, Miro, Arp, and the League of

stormed the theater and

sacked the gallery, destroying several works.

13 V16 inches). Kunstmuseum Basel, Property oj the Alberto Giacometli Foundation.

This event was one of

many

that alarmed

and disheartened

Giacometti, always attentive to political events and at times a militant

Paris,

and

activist,

was

not untouched. In 1930, Dali saw Giacometti's sculpture Suspended Ball of 1930 in

a

prestigious exhibition of works by Arp, Miro, and Giacometti at Pierre Loeb's gallery,

and fetched Breton immediately. Both

tion of a

work

in

which metal

were transformed into

a

in the

cubic prison for

Comte

saw the aggressive distinc-

bars, introduced as sculptural material a

Surrealists, after all their proselytizing for the as expressed

Surrealists

de Lautreamont's

by Picasso,

potentially sinister encounter.

The

shock value of gratuitous encounters, series

of images beginning with the

57


words "beautiful encounter of

as

.

.

."

(and, in

one celebrated passage, continuing: "the chance

sewing machine and an umbrella on

a

OBJETS MOBILES

a dissecting table"), felt that Toutes chose*-- pros,

they had found their man.

And

quickly became a very active

Giacometti

member of

felt

loin,

loul" wU«* qui tont passecs

et le» autre*,

par dcvant.

an instant affinity with Breton and

While Breton had

the Surrealist cenacle.

seen magical poetry in Suspended Ball, and Dali had rightly called attention to what

he termed the symbolically active objects, Giacometti knew that he was coming closer to the fusion of

harnessed to

a

how he felt about

how

things and

form could be

a feeling for

kind of psychological anecdote.

qui bougent et roos amios

dies changent (on

paw

tout prts, ells* tont loin), d autre*

approchent, mootaot, doscendcot, des canards sur t'eau. la et

Breton

lost

no time broadcasting the importance of the new meeting published Giacometti's drawings and

shortly after their

first

"Objets mobiles

muets" in the December 1931 issue of Surrealisme au

revolution.

et

as a sensation that

He wanted

his

works to contain

service de la

as

descended

- Ja

du

mon

rideau.

Aon Id. In fleurs de la taplsserie, I'mu du roblnot ma! term*, lea denh pantalon sur une chaise, od parle dans une chambre plui lolo ; deux <

letter

a suggestion

of

a suggestion

of movement

Man, Woman, and

Child of 1931,

could be induced. Such

occurred in the game-board works of 1931, such

in

apace, monUnt,

These explicit drawings of the sculptures in which Giacometti suspended

to Pierre Matisse "a third element."

its

1'

text entitled

Suspended Ball) fulfilled the need for movement, what Giacometti called in the

with

dans

and

recruit

suggestive objects (for instance, the bisected ball that resembled buttocks, in

movement

II.

ET MUETS trots personnel,

de quelle gare? Les locomotives qui

siiflent,

il

d'> a pas de gare par id.

obvious anecdotal intention, but became more highly developed beginning

1932. Giacometti's

own

description of his next phase, in which intense feelings

and often violent imagery took precedence over formal considerations, makes

clear

the nature of his revolt against his entire background and training: It

was no longer

a

question of reproducing a

lifelike figure

but of

living.

.

.

.

There was also a need to find a solution between things that were rounded

and calm, and sharp and

violent.

'34 approximately) to objects

from each other,

a

It is

this

which

in a cage

during those years

kind of landscape— a head lying down;

and

a

woman

Quit, les

la

terrasw, dans

mulcts brtuJlaicut des*sp*remeol, vers

le

la

matin, on

rue les

trfcs

elrolle el profonde

abaltuil

— demain

Je

son

la

('32-

going in directions that were quite different

her jugular vein cut; construction of a palace with

column

led

od jetait des pelures d'ornngc du hout dc

a

a

woman

strangled,

skeleton bird and a spiral

12

at

elle

the other end.'

la,

approche sa

tStc de

mon

orcillc

— sa jam be,

la

grandc

lis

parlent,

its

bougent,

la et

mais tout est passe.

Despite the Surrealist emphasis on oneiric signification, anecdote, and arcane imagery, Giacometti during those years addressed himself also to problems endemic to the sculptor's vision:

how

to

work both with and against

different apprehensions of space within a single work;

subordinate to

a

whole. In Model for a Square of 1932

(a

how

gravity;

to

make

new

to suggest

parts

version of which

the 1932 drawing of his atelier, Giacometti was faithful to his

58

how

idea

is

become seen in

of making

Alberto Giacometti, Mobile and

Mute

Objects, first

published in Le Surrealisme au service de tion, no. j (December ipji),p. 18.

la

revolu-


things discrete and going in different directions, but the desire for unity in his aligning a

on

a diagonal a

same

year,

evident

scooped-out half-sphere rising from the ground, and

sphere hollowed in the ground, beckoning to

Throat Cut of the

is

Giacometti

form. In

its sister

Woman

Her

with

finds the skeletal reduction he had

literally

sought for some time, and suggests with great force the idea that the floor

ground and the

sight line

from above

are suitable

means

as

for a sculptor to suggest

the tensions between disparate forms and compositional unity. Alberto Giacometti, Pencil on paper,

16

f

/s inches).

Drawing of

My

In 1933, he worked out the scenario for his markedly theatrical The Palace at

Studio, 1932.

32.7/31.9 x 49.3 cm (12 '/Âť/ 12 'A x Offentliche

Kupferstichkabinett,

Kunstsammlung

Kunstmuseum

Basel.

Basel,

4 A.M. in several drawings, which appears to confirm Reinhold Hohl's suggestion

one of the primary sources Giacometti drew upon were

that

Russia. Certainly the several levels of space articulated

set

designs from prewar

by the cagelike enclosure of

new con-

the dangling spine, the suspended trapeze, and the upper tower suggest the

ception of theatrical space put forward in Vsevolod Meyerhold's theater, with

determination to move vertically

out

clearly,

and

as well as horizontally.

to the degree that Giacometti

Kazimir Malevich had

its

set

worked out the basic structure of

it

this

three-dimensional drama, he was partaking of the Constructivist tradition. However,

the strongest element was certainly that of the

mythmaking demanded by

Surrealism.

With

Invisible Object

of 1934, Giacometti began

although Breton regarded the work

as

worthy of

his

exodus from Surrealism,

praise in several

of

his

had an enor-

writings. This large, static, frontal, clearly Egyptian-inspired sculpture

mous impact upon

viewers, thanks to

its

fusion of seemingly ancient

important

modes of

see-

ing with strange spatial restrictions established in the additive way Picasso had

worked on tures

the

of

his assembled pieces.

a venerable tradition.

woman's shins

The

figure itself carries

memories of

hieratic ges-

But the framelike chair and the plaque imprisoning

establish spaces

more akin

to the

modern

vision of construed,

planar space. Although there are shades of the dark imagery favored by the Surrealists (the

head

is

uncannily

like that

of

a

praying mantis, that carnivorous

insect that so fascinated the Surrealists because they believed that the female con-

sumed her mate sculptural, as

after the act

opposed

of

coitus), the essential

impact

lies

in

basically

to anecdotal, conception.

Giacometti's experiences in the 1930s undoubtedly shaped the

opment

its

artistic devel-

that led to his postwar works, with their unique resolutions of sculptural

problems. His search for fresh approaches to the articulation of three-dimensional

59


space led

him beyond

the conventions of sculpture established during the

of the century and into the

spatial realm

way from vanishing-point perspective tors

in

in his drawings

and geometric frames within frames always

which figures loom. And,

away surfaces

tor—becomes the

(Woman and Head) of

instant

of adjustment

vertical

forms of different

with

its

no. 98),

1950

scale,

all

of the space

He

carried the cage enclo-

which,

in

no. 95), the perceived whole requires an several

measures of space established by

initiated in the 1930s

continued to appear,

in his splendid Chariot

of 1950

stress the

weight and immobility of the huge

is

no. 97),

Man

(cat.

feet.

Giacometti's departure from the iron-age vocabulary begins a sculpture history, in which the articulation of parts

as in the

(cat.

nonfunctional wheels, and in various versions of Walking

of which

as in

contained and yet not contained by the towerlike

motion emphatically braked clearly

of

which vec-

essential reference for a sculp-

new psychological realm

a

(cat.

to the existence

The paradoxes

linear structure.

sense of

dynamic space— that

mind— into

in

establish the ambiguity

real delineator of a visual experience.

sure—a sort of theater of the The Cage

and paintings,

long

a

he had reduced volumes and stripped

in his sculpture,

to the point that

He had moved

of phenomenology.

half

first

new chapter

no longer achieved only by

assembling positive and negative spaces in largely linear terms.

Yet,

without the

examples of the 1920s, the final sequence of busts and figures in his oeuvre

The harsh

inconceivable, as he himself often indicated.

the early 1930s sprang from his personal

(why not?) of

his dejected

comrades

crisis,

in Paris

in

is

decisions he had taken in

but they also reflected the pourquoi pas

and the what-the-hell of

their equally

disheartened American confreres. After the mid-i930s, each had to find his way out

of the cul-de-sac that Jean-Paul Sartre had begun defining novel

La Nausee

in his

more than most

in the late 1930s. Giacometti,

widely discussed

artists,

experienced

the shock of discovering the force of contingency, as did Sartre's anti-hero

Roquentin, and

it

would

doubt and epitomizing versally

lead

him

to the

a tragic vision.

works of his maturity, so ridden with

The worries of the

acknowledged bad times, followed

shrouds on traditional sculptures, forcing

artists

many

1930s,

into their studios

of

them

to turn

degree zero, as had the early Russian artistic revolutionaries. sculpture as a result of

all

induced by the uni-

and hung

like

away and begin

What happened

at

in

these turbulent forces was a transformation of the idea of

space through a combination of doubt and daring, by treating space— that intangible but experienced

60

something— as

a

coequal with matter. Giacometti presided over


the near dissolution of the sculptural object that had begun with the early twentieth-

century visions of transparency.

He

ushered in a period in which ambiguity, or what

was called "the informal"â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a vision of form that Arthur Rimbaud had long before prophesied would become the mark of postwar

developments,

artistic

All translations are the author's

1.

"Manifesto for

2.

Antonin Artaud, "The Trip

a

own

a

Modern artâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; became

period that

is still

the lingua franca of

evolving today.

unless otherwise specified.

Sacred Sociology," manifesto for the College de Sociologie (Paris, 1936). to

Mexico" (1936),

m Artaud: Selected Writings, ed.

by Susan Sontag

(Berkeley, 1988), p. 360. 3.

Antonin Artaud,

"First

Contact with the Mexican Revolution," in

4. E. Teriade, "Jacques Lipchitz," Cahiers d'art, no.

K. Morris, "The

American Abstract

5

366.

(1930).

World of Abstract Art (New York, 1957),

5.

George

6.

Octavio Paz, "Andre Breton or the Quest of the Beginning," in Alternating Current (New York, 1972),

p.

p.

8.

L.

48.

Georges

43. Bataille,

results in neither 9.

Artists," in The

133.

7. Ibid., p.

"Le Jeu Lugubre," Documents, no. 7 (December 1929),

impotence nor dreaming but

Andre Breton, Nadja

10. Vicente

(Paris, 1928).

Huidobro, Altazor,

trans,

"Beauty

by Eliot Weinberger (New York, 1988). p. 107.

12.

Andre Breton, "Picasso dans son element," Minotaure, no.

1

13.

Andre Breton, "The

14. 5.

Crisis

16. Julio

(June 1933),

of the Object," in Surrealism and Painting,

p. 4.

trans,

by Simon Watson Taylor

1972), p. 275.

Gertrude Stein, Paris France (New York, 1970), Breton

297. "Intellectual despair

be convulsive or will not be."

will

1 1.

(New York,

p.

in violence."

William Tucker, Early Modern Sculpture (New York, 1974),

1

ibid., p.

et al.,

quoted in Patrick O'Brian,

p.

Picasso,

A

54.

Biography

(New York,

1975),

p.

265.

Gonzalez, "Desde Paris," Cahiers d'art 10, no. 7 (1935); quoted by Marilyn McCully in Picasso

Anthology (London, 1981),

p.

193.

61


.

17i

8.

19.

Maurice Raynal, Rusifiol,

Picasso (Paris, n.d.).

quoted in Robert Hughes, Barcelona (New York, 1992),

Salvador de Madariaga, "Introduction" to Kerrigan (Princeton, 1972),

"Nothing

less

than the

Unamuno,

Unamuno's

p. xxxvi.

p.

436.

by Anthony

Selected Works, vol. 4, trans,

Nada menos

title,

que todo un hombre, translates as

man."

total

20. Ibid., p. xxxi.

11.

Hughes, Barcelona,

22.

Roland Penrose, The

23.

Helene Parmelin,

Picasso dit

24. Baltasar Gracian,

Agudeza y

quoted

25. Picasso,

p.

437.

Sculpture of Picasso .

.

1967), p. 19.

(Paris, 1966), p. 26.

.

arte de ingenio

Dore Ashton,

in

(New York,

Picasso

(Madrid, 1974),

p.

5.

1

on Art (New York, 1972),

p. 66.

26. Ibid., p. 67.

Chipp,

27. Boccioni, reprinted in Herschel B.

28. Paul

Gauguin, The Writings of a Savage,

29.

David Smith, "Gonzalez:

30.

Gonzalez, in

Andrew C.

First

Theories

ed.

by Daniel Guerin (New York, 1978),

Master of the Torch, "Art News

54, no. 10

Ritchie, Sculpture of the Twentieth Century

Ashton, Twentieth-Century

on Art (New York, 1985),

Artists

31.

Margit Rowell, /#//<? Gonzalez (New York, 1982).

32.

Thanks

to Professor

of Modern Art (Berkeley, 1968),

Roald Hoffmann for

his insight

p.

298.

p. 28.

(February 1956),

(New York,

p. 37.

1952), reprinted in

p. 58.

concerning Old Testament references to

artistic

ironworking. 33. Tucker, Early

Modem

Sculpture, p. 76.

34. Rowell, Julio Gonzalez, p. 29.

35.

Ashton, Twentieth-Century

36.

Joan Miner, Alexander Calder (New York, 1991),

37.

John Sloan, The

38.

Andre Salmon, "Introduction"

York, 1968),

in

Gist

Artists

on Art,

p. 58. p. 25.

of Art (New York, 1939), quoted in Barbara Rose, Readings in American Art (New

p. 42.

to

John Graham exhibition

Marcia Epstein Allentuck,/o/.w Graham's System and

catalogue, 1929, at the

Dialectics

Dudensing

of Art (Baltimore, 1971),

Gallery,

p. 32.

39. Stanley William Hayter, Lecture VI, July 29, 1948, San Francisco Art Institute Archives, 53-54, quoted in

Susan M. Anderson, Pursuit of the Marvelous (Laguna Beach,

Calif., 1950), p. 14.

40. Leger, quoted in Marter, Calder, p. 105. 41. Calder, quoted in Ashton, Sculpture, p. 96.

42. Calder, quoted in Marter, Calder,

p.

112.

43. Marter, Calder, p. 107. 44.

David Smith, "Notes on

My

Work," Arts Magazine

34, no.

(February i960),

5

p. 5.

45. Ibid. 46. Smith, interview in Katherine

Kuh, The Artist's

on Sculpture,"

47. Smith, "Thoughts

48. Smith, undated letter written to the author 49. Alfred H. Barr,

Jr.,

Voice

(New York,

College Art Journal 13, no.

from

3

1962), p. 219.

(1954), p. 203.

Italy.

Cubism and Abstract Art (New York, 1936),

p.

197.

50. Ibid., p. 191. 51.

Edward

52.

Smith, quoted in

53.

Smith, quoted in Kuh,

54.

"Who

F.

Fry, "Introduction" to catalogue

Guggenheim Museum

p.

62

16.

Is

in 1969, p.

ibid., p.

the Artist?

1

of the exhibition David Smith, held

at

the

Solomon

R.

1

14.

Artist's Voice, p. 224.

How

Does He Act?" Everyday Art Quarterly, no. 23 (Minneapolis, winter 1952),


and Painting (New York, 1972),

5 5-

Andre Breton,

56.

Giacometti, quoted in Reinhold Hohl, Alberto Giacometti

57.

Quoted

58.

Jean Cocteau, diary entry, winter 1928-29, in Opium (Paris, 1930). Reprinted in Jean Cocteau, Oeuvres

Surrealism

p. 72.

(New York,

1970),

p.

248.

in ibid., p. 247.

completes, vol. 10 (Lausanne, 1940), p. 140. 59.

Yves Bonnefoy, Giacometti

(Paris, 1991), p.

163.

60. Michel Leiris, "Alberto Giacometti," Documents, no. 6 (1929), p. 209. 61. Giacometti to Pierre Matisse, late 1947, quoted in Alberto Giacometti, catalogue of the exhibition held at

the Pierre Matisse Gallery,

New

York, Jan. 19-Feb. 14, 1948,

p. 29.

62. Ibid.

63


Pablo Picasso, drawing from a sketchbook, Juan-les-Pins, 1924.

64

Mush

Picasso, Paris.


Francisco Calvo Serraller

Vulcan's Constellation

The

age of iron began

many

centuries ago by producing very beautiful

objects, unfortunately for a large part, arms. Today,

and

railroads. It

is

time this metal ceased to be

a

it

provides as well bridges

murderer and the simple

instrument of a super-mechanical science. Today the door this material to be, at last, forged

is

wide open for

and hammered by the peaceful hands of an

artist.

Only

a cathedral spire

can show us

a

point in the sky where our soul

is

suspended! In the disquietude of the night the stars seem to

hope

in the sky; this

of them.

It is

immobile

spire also indicates to us

these points in the infinite

"To draw in spacer

which

Picasso had initiated in the 1930s. This also

1930s,

name

"age of iron"

of

an endless number

are precursors

of the new

art:

is

may be

in sculpture that he

and Pablo

considered as a statement about

particularly appropriate in describing the

both for the role that iron played that decade in the work of Picasso and

who

Gonzalezâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; and many

artists

Giacometti, and David

Smithâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; and

it

to us points

1

So wrote Julio Gonzalez about the new "age of iron"

the period kself: the

show

followed, such as Alexander Calder, Alberto for the political climate

2

of the time. Coming

did between the Wall Street crash of 1929 and the beginning of World

after the

Spanish Civil

War ended,

War

II,

as

just

the 1930s was a decade of iron hardness, and,

again like iron, was forged under the blows of force and in the heat of

fire.

The

ter-

65


minology of the period

"commitment," try,

when

"front,"

is

replete with terms such as "discipline," "responsibility,"

and so on. During the

war that devastated their coun-

JJ^^J '^JJfl

the Spanish Republicans defended the Basque city of Bilbao against the

by Franco's Nationalist troops, that

siege

civil

poses, "the belt

of

iron."

The name

city

was nicknamed, for propaganda pur-

doubly meaningful, referring not only

is

to

BiS^Ss Pablo Picasso, Guernica,

Bilbao's fierce resistance but also to the source of the wealth,

power, of what was then the capital of Basque country:

working

industry.' Equally significant

town of Guernica, which was so April 1937.

that Bilbao

is

cruelly

bombed by

The three-day slaughter of unarmed

is

the

and therefore the

highly developed iron-

its

only

a

May

i-June

x 776.6 cm (137

'A

1957. Oil on

4,

x 305

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina

Sofia,

!

/4 inches).

Madrid.

few miles from the

German Condor Legion

civilians

canvas, 349.3

in

and refugees not only

helped to solidify resistance psychologically in that defensive "belt of iron," but was also the inspiration for the

mural that Picasso had been commissioned

to create for

the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris World's Fair of 1937.

Between the

had the Fair

moment

at the

beginning of 1937 when Picasso,

officially accepted the honorific title

commission and

to create a great

his decision to

work

who by

then

of director of the Prado Museum, received

for the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris World's

draw inspiration from the Guernica massacre, other

tragic

Francisco de Goya,

The Third of May,

Moncloa Executions, 181 4. events had taken place in the Civil War. Even Picasso's at the

opposite end of Spain from the Basque country, had

final surrender,

fallen. Its resistance

who was

almost

it

war correspondent

a

at the

time

was Guernica— the deliberate bombing of

population trapped in

a

small city that had

no

(104

'/,

x 13s

*/•»

inches).

Museo

del Prado,

808 or The

266x34s cm Madrid.

and

forces,

executed by the Fascists. 4 But civilian

located

and the ensuing repression carried out by Franco's victorious

were recorded by Arthur Koestler,

less

hometown, Malaga,

1

Oil on canvas,

a defense-

strategic or military

value but symbolized the historical identity of the Basque people— that aroused Picasso's "fury"

5

and

his inspiration.

The

result

was

a

quickly completed work that

stood as a universal condemnation of war, one that transcended the tragic event that inspired

it.

Clearly, Picasso

had adopted the revolutionary point of view with which

of May, 1808 or The Moncloa Executions, had inverted the conven-

Goya,

in The Third

tional

moral of history painting, which traditionally celebrated the victory of the

conquered ove#.their conquerors. The Moncloa Executions evoked the cruel repression carried out by French occupation troops in 1808 after the spontaneous uprising of

Madrid's populace on the preceding

day/'

Gonzalez also produced emblematic works that sought

to reflect the tragedy Julio Gonzalez's Montserrat (1936-37) in the Spanish

of the Spanish Civil War, especially

66

his celebrated Montserrat. This sculpture simulta-

Pavilion at the Paris World's Fair, 1937.


neously embodied the ideals of freedom and social revolution, defended by the

now-threatened Republic, and local Catalan Barcelona.)

had

Having been

invited to

show

a

work

as to

whether

Spanish Pavilion, Gonzalez

at the

Mirror

one of the

is

some

is

disagree-

was finished a year before Gonzalez received the commission

it

from the Republicâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; or Woman with a Mirror

(ca.

greatest sculptures he

which was daringly avant-garde, kept and

(Gonzalez was born in

difficulty in deciding between bringing Montserratâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; and there

ment

Josep Lluis Sert

identity.

it

would produce, but

from

Woman

1936-37, cat. no. 57).

with a

composition,

its

fulfilling the propagandistic require-

Luis Lacasa, Spanish Pavilion at

the Paris World's Fair,

ments

19)7.

called for at the time. Apparently, Picasso tried to persuade

Woman

Woman

decade: the impressive

done

a

nude swimmer, in the studio

which he bought

of

his

the

show

first

half of the

with Vase (1933), two female heads, one female bust,

dated 1931 and

all

made during

to

complement

with a Mirror, but he ultimately chose Montserrat' Picasso, to

Gonzalez's work, brought sculptures that he had

and

Gonzalez

all

bearing the characteristics of pieces

country home, the chateau de Boisgeloup, near

Paris,

in 1930.*

Joan Miro presented Head of a Catalan Peasant, figure inspired by the folk image

also

known

of the Catalan peasant, which,

as

The Reaper, a

in turn,

evoked

tra-

ditional nationalist mythology; the painting, however, exhibited the intense, expressionistic

and violent

style that

Calder, strongly linked to to

show

a

work

at the

within what we can

Miro had been using

since approximately 1934.

Miro and Spain, and the only foreign-born

Spanish Pavilion, contributed his Mercury Fountain.

call

genuinely avant-garde

art,

rest

of the Spanish

ninety-four figurative

artists,

propagandistic scenes.

Of

artistic

best-represented in terms of the

Solana (18S6-1945), folkloric

who

more

to

a

Star.'

presence in the Pavilion was radically different:

most of

the

Finally,

the promising Castilian sculptor

Alberto Sanchez exhibited The Spanish People Have a Road that Leads

The

artist invited

whom

exhibited illustrations of conventional

traditional artists in the Pavilion,

number and importance of works was

exhibited fifteen paintings. Solana

image of so-called "black Spain," practiced

at the

managed

one of the

Jose Gutierrez to invert the

end of the previous cen-

tury by Ignacio Zuloaga, and dug deep into that blackness, beyond the traditions of

conventional representation icostumhrismo). As a until then

Joan Miro's Head of

had been viewed with misgiving

international interest. a

Catalan Peasant in

Pavilion at the Paris World's Fair, 1937.

10

in

result,

unexpectedly, a painter

and outside of Spain, began

who

to attract

There were other, lesser-known Spanish painters and sculp-

the Spanish

tors

of the same period who, agreeing with or adopting international tendencies

67


then in force, revolved around the

many

Almost

all

a

more or

figurative artists not

of those

who had

artistic talent

against the tragic

crisis

among

prevailing artistic style

during the 1930s. the works

shown

11

in that Pavilion, created

and hallucinatory background of the Civil War, was not different

the "era of the realisms."

group and the isolated

"

With

to be nick-

the exception of the Abstraction-Creation

of some members of the avant-garde, many of

activity

had by then become teachers, most

and

feats.

chose realism precisely because the avant-

from the dominant international currents, which caused the decade

named

among

expressionist realism." Clearly,

were mediocre illustrators of military

all

garde model had entered a period of

The

less

realism. This included the

artists in

dominant

whom

the 1930s had returned to figuration

among

faction

the Surrealists,

who

at the

time were strongly influenced by the ideas and works of Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte, enemies of automatic painting and any form of abstraction. Mexican

muralism, which reached the height of

its

prestige

during the 1930s, was also

a clear Alberto Sanchez's

manifestation of what was then understood as a social art of political propaganda.

During tionists

and

that decade, these polarized attitudes brought into opposition abstrac-

realists, a

confrontation that not infrequently became

a revision

of the

old conflict between avant-garde and tradition, a struggle between a formalist art

and one of content, of

versus popular. Picasso was

elite

one of only

What

Gonzalez, Miro, and Sanchez. their individual works,

was

this "crisis

these artists were to

make

call

I

1925 lated

an attempt to "semantify" the avant-garde idiom.

to transcend

means of what we

14

think that Picasso's evolution during these years— approximately between

and 1940— was

what other

in this regard a paradigm.

artists

produce. The issue of

making sculpture repeat the "artisan,"

It

became

of similar tendencies, such

who

in iron

is

as

banal and inappropriate.

commonplace about and how, because of

driving force that stimu-

Gonzalez, were beginning to

Nor does

it

new

style

of

seem relevant

to

Picasso the "artist" seeking help from Gonzalez the

their brief collaboration, the artist learned

way toward

context— although more interesting— the difference that

how Gonzalez and

a

deserves preeminence with regard to the

the acetylene torch and the artisan found his

68

concrete, through

of the avant-garde." They sought

the conventional dichotomy between avant-garde and realism by

could

five avant-garde

invited to participate in the Spanish Pavilion, the others being Calder,

artists

how

creative art. In the

critics

The Spanish People Have

a

Road

that Leads to a Star in front of the Spanish Pavilion at

to use

same

have seen between

Picasso conceived iron sculpture does not seem fundamental to

the Paris World's Fair, 1937.


me. Picasso saw

it

and objectified form, the culmination of

in synthetic

experience with collage, while Gonzalez viewed

in basically naturalist style, as art

it

historian Rosalind Krauss has so cogently described tant

is

it."

What

I

fundamental agreement about the need to respond

their

avant-garde without having to reject

idiom or doing

its

his Cubist

it

to the crisis

of the

violence.

In a certain sense, this attitude goes back to what Breton,

Dadaist, postulated in the years immediately following

think most impor-

when he was

World War

I,

still

when he

a

indig-

nantly rebelled not only against the "return to order," but also against the academic

of Cubism.

stabilization

"Cubism was state

is

'

He

not referring only to Breton's simple declaration that

known, Breton was

well

initially

also resisted elaborating

automatic writing.

how

of content

to articulate this restitution

condemning

resisted

to

form went

upon

as a

the relevance of "plastic automatism"

from the revolutionary perspective of

18

"a

problems than solving

better at defining

than holding up the metaphysical Giorgio de Chirico

model; even though he to the plastic arts

Dada

also spoke about the need to "perhaps restore content to

them: his suggestion about

no further

am

school of painting, Futurism a political movement," and

a

of being."

form."'" As

I

first-stage Surrealism,

he

the practice, a notion even

more improbable than

no one can deny he had

premonition regarding

In any case,

the crisis of the avant-garde and

its

a

eventual "semantification," or that he strongly

believed that the person best suited to provide the solution was Picasso, that quintessential

Modernist

who had

repeatedly refused to leap entirely into abstraction.

Picasso's situation in the period

and

at

times dramatic. After World

secure but he

became

a "star,"

between the two wars was rather complicated

War

much

I,

not only was Picasso's financial situation

sought-after by high society. His marriage to

the Russian ballerina Olga Koklova distanced earlier

period and gave

rounded out

him an

his social success.

air

a

him from

the

of respectable bourgeois

bohemian

stability that

circles

many

Cubist "school," which reached

Exposition internationale des arts decoratifs in Paris.

avant-garde

artists

of

his

dangerously

However, the most serious problem for

time was the apparent "return to order" of

opment of

19

art at that

and the devel-

apotheosis in 1925 with the

its

The

Surrealists,

then in their

first,

organizational phase, justly and violently attacked the exhibition. Picasso was not Jose Gutierrez Solaria, Christ

Oil on canvas, 201

Musee national Pompidou,

Paris.

of the Blood,

x 128 cm (jg d'art

'/u

moderne,

ca.

x 50 Vs

1920.

immune

to these "reactionary" temptations,

which

in his

work took the form of

inches).

Mediterranean neoclassicism and of using Ingres

as a

model, thus accentuating the

Centre Georges

"pleasing" side of his work. But Picasso

is

Picasso,

and even when such elements of

69


weakness appeared in his

regressive

between

art

and

19 15

produce

1925 he could

works of astonishing intensity and strangeness: for example, The Three Bathers, which

he painted in the summer of 1920

deformed

whose background

in Juan-les-Pins,

of prolongation that prefigured what was

in a style

to

figure

come; or that other

pair of mysterious, sarcastic, rather infernal trios, The Three Musicians (1921)

very disturbing Three Ballerinas (1925).

We

is

also have to take cognizance

and the

of the

he

sets

and Mercure, whose revo-

created for Sergei Diaghilev's ballets, particularly for Parade

lutionary force, from the plastic point of view, was appreciated almost exclusively by the Dadaists and Surrealists, even

Some of

how

though they found

the statements Picasso

made during

ballet itself revolting.

20

the 1920s allow us to see clearly

he was already distancing himself from those who,

artistically speaking,

were

Pablo Picasso, The Three Musicians, 1921. Oil on canvas,

allowing themselves to be carried along by events, rejecting the ever more academic

Cubism. So, with

avant-garde, especially

should

artist

know

the

means by which

work he only shows he has

in his

lies will

to

all

to

convince others of the truth of his

2

The same

lies.

and explored the means by which

be believed, he will never achieve anything."

of them."

inches).

Philadelphia

The A. E. Gallatin Collection.

deliberate ambiguity, he asserted that "the

investigated

ent from the other pictorial schools.

x 188 cm (80 x J4

20}. 2

Museum of Art,

And

principles

also:

"Cubism

and elements

is

are

no

If

his

differ-

common

'

Toward the end of 1924, the As an organ of the iconoclastic

first issue

of La Revolution

movement,

Surrealist

it

surrealiste

sought to

settle

appeared.

accounts

with Modernism along the lines announced by Breton in his Dadaist writings. The first

issue included reproductions of

Desnos,

Max

Ernst,

Man

Ray,

I

works by Giorgio de Chirico, Raymond

Andre Masson, Max Morise,

Pierre Naville,

and— sur-

prisingly— Picasso. In the following years, the Surrealists repeatedly treated Picasso differently

from other avant-garde

artists,

despite the fact that he always

shunned

any formal relationship with Breton's group.

As 15,

early as the

second issue of La Revolution

1925— during Surrealism's

initial,

that Picasso inspired was obvious.

scarecrow with the issue's

numerous

title

published on January

most arbitrary and combative phase— the

The cover of that

"French Art

surrealiste,

at the

illustrations included a

issue featured a

respect

photograph of

a

Beginning of the Twentieth Century." The

two-page spread devoted entirely to Picasso:

eight of the drawings completed during 1924 that

would

later

be engraved for

Ambroise Vollard's edition of Honore de Balzac's short story "The Unknown

Pablo Picasso, Study for a Manager (study for the ballet

Masterpiece."

70

(1

Parade,),

Vh

x 8

1917. Graphite on paper, 27.6

7/i

inches).

Musee

Picasso, Paris.

x

22. s

cm


2

-

Premh

rt

ann&

I?

commenting

In 1926, Picasso,

Janvier 1925

made by

tions

LA REVOLUTION

Some

SURREALISTE

ironically

if

looked suspended in the sky

them

tions, introducing

own

don't

know what

admire

as

abstract ideas.

ink sketches and

maps.

I

they mean. So, one day,

I

I

celestial

lines

had the idea of using them

I

in

and

blots that

my

composi-

how

purely graphic elements. But just see

They discovered

these Surrealists are. their

I

lines. It's that

huge number of dots connected by

started to trace out a

UW

my

followers of the Surrealist school discovered that

think they're beautiful, even

'

certain interpreta-

the Surrealists about his drawings, told Jaime Sabartes:

drawings are composed of dots and

FRANC M-

on the abuse of

astute

that these drawings corresponded to

22

K r~,. "

".',!,. ;.." I

mh in SUR

',

l.|

'

'

repugnance

Irrespective of the natural

st ICIDI

for literary or incomplete inter-

all artists feel

pretations

made

at the

expense of their work, and irrespective of the reluctance

J

IBONNI mi

||,

|,,,

n

ihr^iru

||

i,.

Beulcvar

1!

. I

r

U\\

\\\\ VKI.

'

|)|

1

•">"

M

Picasso always

I

this statement Cover of La Revolution

surrealiste, no. 2

(January

i<;.

beginning of

about allowing himself to be

felt

is

summed up

by Julio Gonzalez quoted

especially valuable vis-a-vis the text

this essay. It

is

in Surrealist rhetoric,

not a matter of verifying the source of Gonzalez's ideas

about "drawing in space" starting from the contemplation of the ines the larger art-historical context

tant the

theme of the

the avant-garde and,

This idea

is

of the period,

celestial constellations

more

was

Modern

generally, in

it

becomes

at that

now •

moment

also

Through

art.

fascination of

many

art.

1925), p. 16, later

engraved for Ambroise Vollard's edition of Honore de Balzac's 1931.

"The

Unknown

Starry Night (1889).

artists

his revisionist interpretation

new

with the 2

of

this

work, we can see the

physical image of the stars and, obviously,

'

The influence of van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Paul Cezanne on avant-garde

effect

2 (January i$,

of

shows the impact that increased astronomical knowledge had on

groups of the early twentieth century

surrealiste, no.

in the history

explains convincingly the realistic elements in a picture that until

contemporary

.

Pablo Picasso, drawings published in La Revolution

how impor-

supported by Albert Boime's recent effort to discover the sources

their high metaphorical value.

%

one exam-

has been romantically interpreted as the fantastic product of a hallucinatory

mind, but

stars. If

clear just

and the meaning of Vincent van Gogh's famous painting The

Boime not only

at the

on

fin-de-siecle

oped—has been as a

less

is

well

known. However, van Gogh's particular

Barcelona— in whose shadow Gonzalez and Picasso devel-

examined. That

is

not to say that their interest in

source of artistic inspiration derives from van Gogh.

doubt that Picasso and Gonzalez (and many other Modern

24

celestial

maps

But there can be no

artists)

were influenced

Masterpiece," published in

by the prevailing cultural climate. And,

as

Boime has pointed

out, Camille

71


Flammarion's

scientific essays

about astronomy and

mystical-philosophical

its

implications were extraordinarily popular in France and were almost simultaneously translated into several other languages, including Spanish (published in Barcelona

by the important Catalan company Montaner y Simon).

augmented by

In part

25

martyr of

his reputation as a

art,

van

Gogh had

influence in fin-de-siecle bohemian circles and the avant-garde of the

and posthumously

somber aura on the personal world of

cast his

had been traumatized by the suicide of

Casagemas

in 1901,

during his

first

his Catalan friend

which

art

him

that

it

mood

Picasso's youth.

was sustained by the prevailing

stars

is

a

The Romantic

star,

left

It

his personality.

Spoke Zarathustra: "To engender a dancing 27

work

latter).

Those

26

such

a

ideas

of the

deep impression on

As Nietzsche declared

in Thus

one must have within oneself ...

a

exaltation of the night and the contemplation of the

recurring theme in Zarathustra and in the art of certain of

among them undoubtedly van Gogh and

also the

young Picasso and

its

readers,

his friends.

Crossing the starry night of Picasso's production, and directly related to the

theme of the constellation drawings,

is

the

theme of the alienated

artist,

the artist

dominated by chaos and madness, emblematically represented by van Gogh. This

theme obsessed illustrate

mad

Picasso,

and he

crystallized

"The Unknown Masterpiece,"

in the series

which the

of drawings he made

brilliant painter

Frenhofer goes

transformed in one of his paintings into an inextricable tangle of

kind of prototypical abstract painting.

When

Picasso,

28

commissioned

to create a

monument

he wanted to evoke in his sculpture the fictional

to his friend's

monument

du Benin (the Benin

bird), erects a

hero, the poet Croniamantal.

The passage

monument in

to the

memo-

described in

Apollinaire's prose novelette The Poet Assassinated. In this fantasy, a sculptor, Toiseau

lines, a

on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Guillaume

Apollinaire's death, was

memory of

named

the story's

which the Benin bird speaks

dead poet's mistress, Tristouse, about the kind of statue he's going to create

72

to

thinking he can see the invisible: the most perfect representation of a female

figure,

ry,

in

it

Vincent van Gogh, canvas, 75.2

part, the revolutionary politics (primarily that

permanently influenced

certain chaos."

his

was frequently linked with love and death and domi-

of the Barcelona of

anarchists)

century,

and colleague Carlos

nated by the ideas of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche (especially the

had shaped the culture and, in

huge

Picasso. Picasso

an incident that colored both the form and content of

years in Paris. His pessimistic

aesthetic climate, in

new

a

to the is

cited

The

Starry Night, 1889. Oil on

x 92 cm (29 x 36

of Modern Art, P. Bliss Bequest.

New

'/,

inches).

The

Museum

York, Acquired through the Lillie


by Werner Spies— correctly, the

believe-as the determining factor in Picasso's idea for

I

monument: "A

made of what?"

statue,

"No, erect to

asked Tristouse. "Marble? Bronze?"

that's too old-fashioned,"

him

made of nothing,

a statue

answered the Benin bird. like

of the void,

But the idea of

that's the very thing.

this nothing, the void,

want

to

poetry and fame."

"Bravo! Bravo!" replied Tristouse, applauding, "a statue ing,

"I

When do we

was for Picasso

start?"

made of noth-

29

the total

like falling into

absence of content, the loss of the figure, pure irrationality, the abstract. If such

chaos

creatively essential for Picasso, the

is

In 1923, the year that he began to

Unknown

those for "The

work of art

make

arises

his first "drawings in

to

art.

The

painted."

its

a

concern

way and caused the

intellectual analysis. Perhaps that's the principal defect

spirit

completely understand

made them

space"— both

Mario de Zayas: "Frequently,

with [formalist] investigation has caused painting to lose

Modern

conjuring.

its

Masterpiece" and the sketches he did for the ballet

Mercure— he made the following statement

artist to get lost in

out of

of

[formalist] investigation has

all

the positive and decisive elements of

poisoned those

who

Modern

try to paint the invisible and, therefore, to try to paint

of

did not

art,

which

what cannot be

The publication

in

1923

of

this

and other statements by Picasso

legitimate speculation that he was trying to distance himself tried to establish a scientific basis for

invites the

from those who had

Cubism, which by then had become some-

thing of a formal "school" based on a rigorous intellectual system of composition.

Among with

those

whom

who championed

this

form of Cubism was the Spaniard Juan

Picasso had an ambivalent relationship (although perhaps Picasso's dis-

affection with Gris was exaggerated by Gertrude Stein"). In fact, nearly

avant-garde

approach tion.

It

Gris,

artists

felt

an antipathy toward Gris, objecting to

to painting, his

immersion

in intellectual analysis

was enough to drive anyone mad, and

its fatal

result

all

Spanish

his overly "abstract"

and formalist

investiga-

was the insane desire to

try to "paint the invisible," as in Balzac's prophetic short story.

Vollard published "The Pablo Picasso, Painter with Model Knitting, Paris, ip2j. Etching on paper, 19.2 x 2j.y inches).

cm (y

The image was included in

Masterpiece.

"The

"/;«

x 10

Picasso, in 1931.

The volume

Unknown

Masterpiece," with thirteen etchings by

also included, as a kind

of introduction, reproductions

~/s

Unknown

of some sixteen pages from

and

a

sixty drawings scattered

sketchbook Picasso had used in 1926 in Juan-les-Pins

throughout the

text

of the novel. In

his celebrated

73


Recollections all

of a Picture Dealer, Vollard recalled the publication

the works

I

"But of

as follows:

have published, the one that most puzzled the bibliophiles

when

it

was announced was Balzac's Chef d'CEuvre Inconnu, with original etchings and wood-

which cubist

cuts by Picasso, in

remind one of

Ingres.

when astonishment

realisations rub shoulders with drawings that

But each new work of

gives

way

Picasso's shocks the public,

the day

till

32

to admiration."

This strange combination of what Vollard

calls

"Cubist works" and "drawings

that recall Ingres" also applies to the engravings Picasso did for his Suite Vollard

(1930-37)

and an edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses

model

ship between the painter and his in both. This ty

theme

of the model and the

and

his real or

up

in turn conjures

The theme of the

1931).

in the seclusion

relation-

of the studio was developed

others: the confrontation between the reali-

of the work; the

reality

(

erotic relationship

imagined model; the self-absorption of the

artist;

between the

artist

and melancholy."

Contradiction was an inherent part of Picasso's characteristic creative dynamic.

al

He

never simply

moved from one approach or

another but juggled sever-

style to

simultaneously over an extended period, and only gradually did one emerge

as

predominant. Such was the process that took Picasso from the "drawings in space"â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

which influenced

during the

his paintings

late

essays in iron that required the participation classic

of Gonzalez

as

those sculptural

artisanâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; to the more

as

organic forms with rounded shapes that became more and more frequent in

the paintings and sculptures he

The photographer cal

much

1920s as

made

Brassai' visited

in the early 1930s in his studio at Boisgeloup.

Boisgeloup in 1933, and commented on the

and undulating character of the majority of the works he found

He opened

immense

the door to one of those

ant in white, a city of sculptures. ...

those forms.

A new woman

I

had entered

Picasso's la

time exactly one year before, on December

After that day,

all

his painting

began

life:

lines,

lence. In

sweetness following

no moment of

his life

Boetie and painted her for the 16,

1931, in the

Red

that stood before

74

me

spirals.

stamp of that new

.

.

.

look,

.

.

.

and the

work with

on harshness, tenderness following on

was his painting so undulating, so

revealed the

Chair.

to undulate. Since the planar

uous curves, arm twisted with arm, hair in

all

Marie-Therese Walter.

corporeal, straight lines, angular lines, frequently clash in his

curved

see, radi-

was astonished by the roundness of

He'd found her quite by accident on rue de first

there:

and we could

naves,

classi-

full

Most of the

of

viosin-

statues

beginning with the


grand bust of Marie-Therese bent forward, with straight line

its

almost

classical head, the

of the forehead joined without interruption with the nose,

that invaded his entire work. In the series The Sculptor's Studio,

had engraved

vk^taHih

for Vollard

.

.

when

I

found them here

in flesh

similar to a savage goddess. Boetie,

1932. Photo by

The simultaneity of

My

and bloodâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; I mean

more and more prominent, the

curved, the noses

which Picasso

there were also, in the future plans,

almost spherical heads. They weren't imaginary!

tal,

Picasso's studio at rue de la

.

monumen-

surprise was in

all

eyes in the

a line

immense

their relief, all

form of

balls,

14

angles and curves in those sculptures, which so impressed

Brassai'.

Brassai, creates

moments.

ently sweet

The

an unexpected sense of drama and violence, even in the most appar-

merely speculative were, for Picasso,

abstract, the invisible, the

bolical temptations he

had

many

to exorcise like so

ghosts.

One might

like dia-

imagine that

such conflicts and choices were also faced by Gonzalez, but in his work there

more doubt than

dialectic and, in crucial

moments,

ethics split with aesthetics,

something that never happened to Picasso. Nevertheless, both of them came serious doubts about the formalism that increasingly

during the 1930s. In reaction against

ditional Spanish

That eccentricity of Spanish

in reaction against the

of Goya.

It

Goya,

it

in the twentieth century

of

in Spain a tragic matter

tra-

art revealed itself centuries earlier

predominant classicism and then returned again

became rampant

modern became

both of them devel-

an eccentric attitude in their workâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; so characteristic of

call

art.

to have

dominated the avant-garde

this perceived weakness,

oped what we might

is

when

in the

work

the very idea of the

identity. In the paradoxical

work of

was that tragic aspect which astonished the nineteenth-century French

writer Theophile Gautier,

who

images: "Thinking to serve

related

new

it

and

ideas

Enlightenment background or Goya's

to the

beliefs,

he traced out the portrait and the

history of old Spain.""

Spanish

artistic identity

had always been

Before Romanticism, hardly anything was

and the fundamental reason for tional Spanish art was the 6

time:

its

anti-classicism.'

this

1955. Photo by Brassai.

of paradoxes and contradictions.

known about Spanish

artists in

Europe,

ignorance and disdain by Europeans for tradi-

same reason that has brought about That predominant

the Spanish School into something at Picasso's studio in Boisgeloup,

full

first

its

vindication in our

anti-classical orientation

eccentric

and then, more

transformed

recently,

some-

thing "timeless."

75


The timelessness of modern Spanish Gautier perceived

almost

it

in

art

manifested

just the

itself in

Goya, but that timelessness has also been

way

a characteristic

of

the best Spanish artists of the twentieth century, including Picasso and

all

Gonzalez. Those two

only in the most

made Spanish themes

direct, simple,

the basis of

many of

their works, not

and, therefore, recognizable manner, through the

use of orthodox icons, but also through what in another context

I

have called "a

" moralizing aesthetic fixed in content."

Abstraction has been repudiated avant-garde

artists,

one time or another by most Spanish

who was

beginning with Picasso himself. Even Gris,

disdained by

Spanish contemporaries for being too "abstract," "intellectualized,"

almost

all

"cold,"

andâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; the

to

at

his

ultimate criticismâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; "not very Spanish," declared that he was trying

"humanize" Cezanneâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; that

is,

technique of the French master

to reverse the process led.

3

"

However,

it

is

of abstraction to which the

probable that this stance of

being "outside of history" was also the reason for the surprising

facility

with which

the Spanish artists of the twentieth century could assume an avant-garde attitude,

which implied

39 break with the past.

a

One model of which began

in the

anti-classicism as a break with the past was the Gothic revival,

second half of the eighteenth century and reached

its

fullest

expression in the middle of the nineteenth, opening the way to Modernism. During the

mature works, there was

their cal

third of the twentieth century,

first

than

map

stylistic.

a

new

when Gonzalez and

Picasso were creating

return to the Gothic, this one

more psychologi-

Gonzalez's reference to a cathedral spire pointing to the

pointing the way to the

new

art

of "drawing

in space"

is

stars as a

an important example

of the Gothic influence. In

19 1

1,

three years after he published his Abstraction

established his principles of psychological aesthetics,

and Empathy, which

Wilhelm Worringer published

another book, Form in Gothic. There he describes the prototype of the Gothic personality

and what he

calls

"the principle of Gothic architecture": "All expression to

which Greek architecture attained was attained through the stone, by means of the stone;

all

expression to which Gothic architecture attained, was attained

of the. stone.

of

it,

opposed

classical

to the

.

.

in spite

expression was not derived from the material but from the negation

by means only of

between the

76

Its

.

its

dematerialization." Worringer elaborates his contrast

and the Gothic with the sensuality of

pure expressive will of the Gothic, the

classical architecture

utility

of the

classical


opposed itself to

to the absence

whose

substantiality

energies striving heavenward with an

dualistically riven

of eternity

Some

.

.

.

only

a

the Gothic allows

thousand separate

are hardly conscious of, for they act see

enormous elan"

man

the beauty of the finite of classical

thrill

we

of an immaterial expression ... we

as vehicles

how

practical objectives in the Gothic,

be carried away: "There are no walls, no mass

energies speak to us,

only

of

only

and uncontrolled

free

Finally,

Worringer juxtaposes

with the tension suffered by "Gothic man,

and therefore transcendentally disposed, [who] could only

the

feel

40

in the infinite."

of Worringer's concepts appear to coincide with Gonzalez's ideas and

works (although there

no indication of any

is

direct influence).

Worringer even

Gothic and the use of iron in Modern

establishes a relationship between the

the

art,

only essential difference between them being that uniformity in Gothic architecture Burgos Cathedral, Spam.

was established by the

mode of

modern

construction, and in

iron architecture by

the material. This difference was eliminated in Gonzalez's iron sculpture, to which is

it

possible to apply what Worringer wrote:

The modern

art

of

steel

construction has

given to us again a certain

first

inward understanding of Gothic. Here again people have been confronted with an architectural form in which the the

He

adds

a

artistic

expression

is

taken over by

medium of construction. short time

later,

however:

For in modern architecture

is

it

the material itself which directly invites this

exclusively structural significance, while in Gothic the structural ideas were attained, not

by means of the material, but

in spite

of the material, in

the stone. In other words: underlying the artistic appearance of the

building constructed of

there

steel

is

no

will to

reasons, emphasizes structure, but only a

might be said for

it

is

that

it

an

is

new

atavistic

form which urges the modern Northern man material

and which even allows us

dependent on Thus, Worringer in

its

relevant use.

19 11

to

hope

form which,

spite

modern

for particular

The utmost

material.

of

that

echo of the old Gothic will to to

an

for a

artistic

new

emphasis of

style in

this

architecture

41

nurtured the hope that in an undetermined but not too

distant future an appropriate use of iron

Picasso and Gonzalez,

who took

would define

a

new

style

of construction.

the greatest advantage of iron in the sense of

that constructive will desired by Worringer, spent their formative years in fin-de-sie-

77


cle Barcelona.

There, the gothicizing style locally

ues."

42

cultural climate that favored

That Picasso was attacked

as

modernismoâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; the term

Nouveauâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; was being produced

usually used in Spain to designate Art

wrought

known

what were then

early

on

"Nordic

referred to as

in Paris with the

an over-

in

contemptuous epithet

boche (German), the worst insult in France after the Franco-Prussian War, as

the fact that Gonzalez and the equally avant-garde Catalan Miro,

is

ers,

used the

title

val-

"Gothic men" for some of their works. But

is

telling,

among

much of

oth-

Gonzalez's

sculpture arises out of his relationship to iron working and the special flowering of that old local tradition during Catalonia's fin-de-siecle modernismo.

We

are confronted

once again by the

of the Spanish

anticlassical heritage

School, which can be viewed as the result of a gothicizing sensibility, renewed during the Baroque period and then revealed again and again, even during the develop-

ment of

the contemporary period.

ing a discredited and extremely

How

can we explain Picasso and Gonzalez reviv-

humble

material like iron and wanting to

work

it

Antoni Gaudi, modernista

with artisan techniques? nistically

it

that eccentric Spanish "Gothic"

new

sculptural space?

find his creative spark until he was over sibility

which so anachro-

shaped the aesthetic leap taken by them together to use iron

constructing a

al for

Was

of taking

his old trade

Not

fifty,

of smithery

to

to

avant-garde

artists,

when he was

offered the pos-

heights.

By the same token, pursuing the anthropological tributed to this unexpected expressive

Barcelona.

as the materi-

mention that Gonzalez did not

precisely

new

iron gate, Giiell Pavilion,

factors that

movement toward

might have con-

iron by

some Spanish

we cannot overlook what Mircea Eliade has written about the

extremely rich mythological background of iron cultures 4 or the wide and complex '

iconographic use in Baroque Spain of the Greco-Roman god Vulcan, the blacksmith.

The Spanish

painters of the seventeenth century loved to paint Vulcan, not

only in the way he was usually represented in European culture but in

a rather

strange style, as a "worker." 44

Nearly

all

ticularly laden

other Spanish avant-garde

during the 1930s, those years par-

with anxiety and tragedy, repeatedly turned to painting

mystical landscapes.

Some of

the best twentieth-century Spanish

painted between 1936 and 1946. Such Dali,

artists

is

still lifes

still

lifes

and were

the case not only with Picasso, but also with

Oscar Dominguez, Luis Fernandez, and others. However, the most interesting Diego de Velazquez, The Forge of Vulcan, 1630. Oil

and significant example

work

78

that,

is

that

of Miro, whose

according to James Thrall Soby,

Still Life

with Old Shoe (1937)

may be compared with

is

a

Picasso's Guernica.

on canvas, 22j x 290 cm (87

Museo

del Prado,

Madrid.

V4 x 11/

</

4

inches).


After giving a precise description of Miro's tragic in all the paintings in this series

.

.

"as

calamitous situation occurs on the

this

.

Soby concludes that

life,

still

ground." However, while continuing in that tragic mode, Miro raised his point of

view toward the templation. series,

4"

stars,

renewing or insisting on that flight of mystical

Between 1939 and 1944, Miro completed one of

own

The Constellations. According to his

Normandy,

album. Miro

says, referring to

I

account, he began the series in

produced by some paint that had dried on some pages of an

effect

Having finished them,

most celebrated

having come to him accidentally when

in Varengeville-sur-Mer, the idea

he noted the

his

my

some canvases

work,

I

he'd just painted in

my

washed out

oil:

brushes in solvent and, to dry

wiped them against the white pages of the album, without guiding

myself with any preconceived notion. The stained surface put

mood and sky, the

Once

moon, and

I'd

human

provoked the birth of forms, the sun.

I

drew

all

of

achieved plastic balance and put

it

me

in a

figures, animals, stars, the

with charcoal, very vigorously.

those elements in order,

all

good

I

began

minute care of the artisan or the primitive;

to paint with gouache, with the this

con-

celestial

kind of work requires quite

of time.

a bit

.

.

.

We