The Catalan sculptor Julio Antonio (Mora de Ebro, Tarragona, 1889 - Madrid, 1919) is considered one of the pioneers in the renovation of Spanish sculpture. Despite his untimely death at thirty, his work brings about a true transformation in the forms, concepts and values of Spanish sculpture.
His work is appreciated by important intellectuals of the time, with whom Julio Antonio shares a regenerationist spirit, which calls for the modernisation of Spain. In his work classicism as a creative basis is evident. It is not only about its formal aspect, but also the idea of integration of opposites, harmony and balance, which is part of the theory of thought developed by José Ortega y Gasset. The Spanish philosopher is not the only one who values Julio Antonio’s contribution to sculpture. Authors Ramón Gomez de la Serna, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Ramón Pérez de Ayala and Ramón María del Valle-Inclán are equally enthusiastic about his work.
Cultural magazines like Prometeo, Europa or España - active during the early years of the twentieth century - unconditionally support the work of this sculptor and help develop his fame and recognition within the most up-to-date cultural sphere. For the painter Ignacio Zuloaga, Julio Antonio sculpts the very sentiment of his own country, a belief shared with another of the sculptor’s friends, Julio Romero de Torres. Julio Antonio's followers recognise in him the true soul of Spanish men and women.
Despite occasional trips abroad, Julio Antonio decides to stay in Spain, whose geography he knows well because he was posted for various reasons to different parts, he lives in Tarragona, Barcelona, Murcia, Almaden and Madrid. However, his trip to Italy in 1909 and his visits to Rome, Naples and Florence introduces him directly to the work of Donatello, Michelangelo and Andrea Verrocchio, artists who make a deep impression on him.
Similar to the exhibition dedicated to John Gray, held this year, this show is done with funds from the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, and features a total of eighteen patinated bronze sculptures together with the charcoal drawings, Autorretrato, Almadén (1909) and Friso Monumental I y II (1918-19).
María the gypsy, a miner from Puertollano, a Castillian woman, Ventero de Peñalsordo, a miner from Almaden, the woman with a mantilla (laced scarf), the goat-herder of the lands of Zamora, a girl from Aldea del Rey or a novice of Avila are some of the protagonists of the sculptures in the Reina Sofía Museum collection. Eleven of them belong to the known series Bustos de la Raza, which he starts in Almaden at the beginning of 1910. Also displayed in the exhibition is a model of the Monumento a los Héroes de Tarragona, which was acquired by the state in 1922.
Palacio Caja Cantabria, Santillana del Mar (November 15 - December 22, 2002); Centro Cultural La General Almería (April 19 - May 19, 2001); Centro Cultural Funcación Caja de Granada, Granada (May 24 - July 20, 2001), Museo Camón Aznar, Zaragoza (January 15 - March 17, 2002); Museo Gregorio Prieto, Valdepeñas, Ciudad Real (September 08 - December 22, 2002)
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