Julio González (Barcelona, 1876 - Arcueil, France, 1942) is considered the father of iron sculpture and one of the key artists in the development of twentieth-century art. This retrospective exhibition exposes his process of finding a new sculptural syntax through a wide variety of registers and is an addition to those Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía dedicated to him in 1986 focused on Las Colecciones del IVAM and in 1995 focused on his drawings.
González, with an artistic vocation, trains as a craftsman in his father’s artistic metalwork workshop in a modernist Barcelona, where he learns how to forge and cast iron. His move to Paris influences his artistic production. There he learns an industrial technique, autogenous welding, decisive for the subsequent renewal of his iron sculptural language. The artist experiments the two-dimensional plane with his embossed reliefs and the exploration of volume until in 1928 Picasso, used to working with metal, asks for his help in producing a memorial to his friend Apollinaire with transparent and emptied forms, in order to materialise the idea of "a solid statue of nothing", inspired by The Poet Assassinated written by Apollinaire in 1914. Thanks to this collaboration, González’s advice to Picasso allows him to test the feasibility of his sketches, while Picasso gives his friend the impetus to develop his work, based on the synthetic capacity of the drawing. González's sculptures, hitherto limited to delicate iron and small dimensions, are reinforced to the point of becoming imposing and complex figures that will lead him to be internationally recognised.
With his thread-like sculptures he prioritises "the marriage between material and space" and he distances himself from the traditional approaches of symmetry through what he calls "drawing in space." They are improvisations, constructed directly with iron rods, which consolidates an "apparently abstract" language, pieces of great schematic and formal complexity. In parallel González uses iron plates with which he creates a series of sculptures that some authors have associated with Cubism, where he decomposes volume and incorporates empty space, achieving contrasting lighting effects between full and empty forms. In 1937, González ends his sculptural work with two exceptional pieces: La Montserrat, exhibited in the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition of 1937, and Mujer ante el espejo, a daring synthesis between Cubism, Surrealism and Expressionism.
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya MNAC, Barcelona (October 28, 2008 - January 25, 2009)