Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002)

Spanish Basque sculptor, Eduardo Chillida’s earliest sculptures concentrated on the human form (mostly torsos and busts). His later works tended to be larger and more abstract, including many public works. Chillida defined himself as a ‘realist sculptor’.


Chillida was born in 1924 in San Sebastián and first studied architecture at the University of Madrid. Changing direction to art, Chillida moved to Paris in 1948. Upon returning to the Basque Country in 1951, he soon abandoned the plaster he used in his Paris works. He began to work in forged iron, with the help of the local blacksmith, and soon set up a forge in his studio. From 1954 until 1966, Chillida worked on a series entitled Anvil of Dreams, using wood as a base from which metal forms rise up in explosive rhythmic curves.

By the early 1970s, his steel sculptures had been globally recognized, and installed in front of the Unesco headquarters in Paris, the ThyssenKrupp building in Düsseldorf, and in a courtyard at the World Bank offices in Washington.


Much of Chillida’s work is inspired by his Basque childhood, with many of his sculptures’ titles written in the Basque language Euskera. His steel sculpture De Música III was exhibited at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the UK, as part of a retrospective of his work.


His first comprehensive retrospective in the United States was mounted by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 1966. Major retrospectives of Chillida’s graphic and sculptural work have since been mounted by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1979); the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1980); Palacio de Miramar, San Sebastián (1992); the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (1999), and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (1999).


Major public works by Chillida can be found in in Barcelona, Berlin, Paris, and Frankfurt. San Sebastián is home to his collaboration with Luis Peña Ganchegui – Haizeen orrazia (The Comb of the Wind) – installed on the rocks rising from the Cantabrian Sea at La Concha Bay.


Eduardo Chillida died at his home near San Sebastián in 2002 at the age of 78.