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Julio GONZALEZ (1876 - 1942)

Spanish School

Masque d'adolescent - c.1929-1930


32,6 x 17,5 x 3 cm - 42,5 x 17,5 x 11,5 cm (including base)

signed and numbered 5/8, with foundry mark Valsuani on verso



Private collection, Paris

Private collection, Spain


Selected literature

Julio González 1876-1942. Les matériaux de son expression II, Paris, Ed. Galerie de France, 1970, cat.58

MAB (ed.), Donación González, Barcelona, 1974, cat.19

J. Merkert, Julio González, Catalogue raisonné des sculptures, Milan, 1987, p.89, cat.106 (ill.)


Exhibitions of this cast

1982-1983, Basel, Galerie Beyeler, González, Sculptures - Dessins, cat.6 (ill.)

1999, Vigo, Centro Cultural Caixavigo, Tres escultores en Paris: Pablo Gargallo, Julio González, Manolo Hugué, p.97 (ill.)


Other casts or number unknown - Selected exhibitions:

1969-1970, New York, Saidenberg Gallery Inc.; Montreal, Galerie de Montréal; Toronto, Dunkelman Gallery; Zurich, Gimpel and Hanover Gallery; Paris, Galerie de France; Essen, Museum Folkwang; London, Tate Gallery; London, Gimpel Fils Ltd.; Humlebæk, Louisiana Museum; Oslo, Sonja Henies og Niels Onstads Stiftelser, Julio González. Les matériaux de son expression, cat.58 (ill.)

1970, London, Tate Gallery, Julio González, cat.24 (bronze)

2018, Valencia, IVAM, Las constelaciones de Julio González. Entre la representación y la abstracción


Conceived c.1929-1930.


Part of a limited edition initiated by Roberta González (daughter of the artist and sole copyright holder) between the mid-fifties and the mid-sixties.

There are no lifetime casts.


There are eight numbered bronzes (1/8 to 8/8) and four bearing the references O, OO, EA and HC.


The original iron sculpture belongs to the collection of the IVAM, Julio Gonzaìlez Center, Valencia.

Spanish artist Julio González is hailed as the father of modern metal sculpture. Born in Barcelona in 1876, to a family of goldsmiths, he learned his trade in the family workshop along with his brother Joan. In 1900, the González brothers settled in Paris, where both hoped to become painters. Julio González took up with his Barcelona acquaintance Pablo Picasso, and met a host of artists including Joaquín Torres García and Max Jacob. In 1909, he showed a series of paintings at the Salon d’automne, where he became a regular exhibitor. He spent time with Modigliani and Brancusi in the same period, too, meeting them often at the café La Closerie des Lilas. In these early Paris years, González produced portraits in embossed metal, and terracotta sculptures in the artisan tradition. He worked at the Renault factory from 1918 onwards, where he learned oxy-acetylene welding, a technique he used for his later wrought-iron sculptures. The application of this industrial technique to sculpture proved revolutionary. Unsurprisingly, Picasso sought out González in 1928, as an expert autogenous welder. An intense and fruitful collaboration ensued, over a period of three years, during which González assisted Picasso in the making of numerous soldered metal sculptures. The adventure convinced González to abandon painting and devote himself to sculpture, while gradually breaking free of his traditional training. He developed a highly individual sculptural language: a synthesis of Cubism, Constructivism and Surrealism, mid-way between abstraction and figuration. González’s sculptures engage in wholehearted dialogue with the surrounding space, which the artist conceives as a raw material in its own right. ‘To project and draw in space, using new materials, to make the most of that space, and to construct forms with it, as if it were a newly-acquired raw material: this is all I try to do,’ he said. In the 1930s, González applied his virtuoso technique to a freer approach to form, making new works that ‘illustrate the vision, logic and mastery of a man whose thinking, vision and output are directly shaped by the properties of metal.’ Made during his period of collaboration with Picasso, Masque d’adolescent (‘Mask: Adolescent Boy’) witnesses González’s attachment to the figurative tradition and the art of portraiture, and his free approach to natural representation, influenced by Cubism and tribal art. Throughout the rest of his career, González strove to ‘transpose natural forms by breathing new life into them.’ González pared down his formal vocabulary to the bare essentials, pushing at the limits of abstraction. Unlike his earliest embossed metal masks, Masque d’adolescent engages with its surrounding space, notably through the discreet voids that allow light to penetrate and create a kind of shadow play. The work shows the highly individual, distinctive approach developed by González through his sculptural work – something he owed in part to his training as a goldsmith. The bronze was cast by Roberta González, the artist’s daughter and assistant, in accordance with her father’s wishes, after his original in wrought and soldered iron at the Museu Nacional de Catalunya. As his son-in-law, the painter Hans Hartung explained, ‘I often heard González complaining about his lack of money, so that he was unable to make the cast metal pieces he would have liked.’

(1) Julio González [exhibition catalogue], Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum; Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 1955, p. 8.

(2) M. Rowell, González. Catalogue raisonné des sculptures, Milan, Electa, 1987, p. 12.

(3) V. Aguilera Cerni, Julio González Itinerario de una dinastía, Barcelone, ed. Polígrafa, 1973, p. 215.

(4) Hans Hartung, Chalette Gallery, New York.

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