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Eduardo Chillida: Memory, Mind, Matter

Eduardo Chillida working on an alabaster sculpture, 1975. Photo: Archivo Eduardo Chillida. © 2017 Zabalaga-Leku, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid.

Eduardo Chillida working on an alabaster sculpture, 1975. Photo: Archivo Eduardo Chillida. © 2017 Zabalaga-Leku, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid.

By Denise Colson

On May 13, The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla., inaugurated its first solo exhibition dedicated to sculpture since its new building opened in 2011. “Memory, Mind, Matter: The Sculpture of Eduardo Chillida” gathers more than 60 works by world-renowned sculptor Eduardo Chillida, including 16 sculptures, a large-scale wall mural, drawings and a series of collages on paper that the artist called “gravitations.”

Eduardo Chillida, Gravitación (Gravitation), 1987. © 2017 Zabalaga-Leku, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid.

Eduardo Chillida, Gravitación (Gravitation), 1987. © 2017 Zabalaga-Leku, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid.

The exhibition was curated by Dali Museum curator of special exhibitions William Jeffett in collaboration with Ignacio Chillida. It was co-organized by The Dali Museum and Museo Chillida-Leku in Spain in partnership with the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The show represents an exploration of Chillida’s interest in humanity’s relationship to space and organic forms. The materials he uses are substantial and natural while his output balances lightness and mass. “We are presenting a variety of works by this master sculptor and skilled craftsman,” Jeffett said. “This is a rare opportunity to see works by an artist known for large sculptural monuments you often have to travel the globe to see.”

Eduardo Chillida, Gure Aitaren Etxea (1ª Version Nº 2) (Our Father's House (1st Version Nº 2), 1985, sculpture. © 2017 Zabalaga-Leku, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid.

Eduardo Chillida, Gure Aitaren Etxea (1ª Version Nº 2) (Our Father's House (1st Version Nº 2), 1985, sculpture. © 2017 Zabalaga-Leku, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid.

Born in San Sebastian, Spain, in the Basque region, Chillida (1924-2002) is well known for his monumental works in public spaces for instance De Musica, Dallas XV (On Music, Dallas XV) at I.M. Pei’s Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. His pieces are also located at outdoor environs as well as in prestigious museums in his native Spain, as well as France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the U.S., where he made his debut with exhibitions at The Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art, both in New York. During his life, Chillida received several distinguished awards, including from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the International Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale, both in 1958; the Kandinsky Prize in 1960; and the Carnegie Prize in 1964, as well as 1979, which he shared with painter Willem de Kooning.

Eduardo Chillida, Mano (Hand), 1995, drawing. © 2017 Zabalaga-Leku. Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid.

Eduardo Chillida, Mano (Hand), 1995, drawing. © 2017 Zabalaga-Leku. Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid.

“Memory, Mind, Matter” continues the The Dali Museum’s tradition of presenting art and artists whose relationship to Salvador Dali and Surrealism may not be widely known. “When André Breton used Guillaume Apollinaire’s invented word “Surrealism” to describe a movement in art, artists, including Joan Miro and Alberto Giacometti, were already at work,” said Dr. Hank Hine, executive director of The Dali. “Their art engaged both abstraction and the human body and found a deep kinship with poets with similar interests. It is this tradition, and particularly these artists, that impelled Chillida from his first works.”

Eduardo Chillida, 1987, Barcelona: Photo: Archivo Eduardo Chillida. © 2017 Zabalaga-Leku, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid.

Eduardo Chillida, 1987, Barcelona: Photo: Archivo Eduardo Chillida. © 2017 Zabalaga-Leku, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid.

“Memory, Mind, Matter: The Sculpture of Eduardo Chillida” is on view through September 24 at The Dali Museum | One Dali Blvd., St. Petersburg, Fla. 33701 | Phone: 727-823-3767 | www.thedali.org.

Denise Colson is an arts writer based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.