Julio González



Not on display

Julio González 1876–1942
Original title
Steel and stone
Object: 1305 × 406 × 235 mm
Purchased 1970

Display caption

<i>Maternity</i> is one of González's most striking sculptures from the mid-1930s. The use of welded steel rods lends an unprecedented openness to the structure and epitomises his idea of 'drawing in space'. Like much of González's work, <i>Maternity</i> appears to be abstract while retaining figurative references. The structure builds from the horizontal circle, through the stepped form, to the upper loop projected into space. This loop suggests a head with sprouts of hair, and a ring and plate indicate breasts.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Julio González 1876-1942

T01242 Maternité (Maternity) 1934

Not inscribed
Iron, 51 3/4 x 16 x 9 1/4 (130.5 x 41 x 23.5) on stone base; height including base 57 1/8 (145)
Purchased from Roberta González through the Galerie de France, Paris (Grant-in-Aid) 1970
Exh: Abstrakte Malerei und Plastik, Kunsthaus, Zurich, October-November 1938 (81) as 'Maternité'; Julio González, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, February-March 1952 (72, repr.); Sculpture of the Twentieth Century, Philadelphia Museum, October-December 1952 (41); Art Institute of Chicago, January-March 1953 (41); Museum of Modern Art, New York, April-September 1953 (41); Sept Pionniers de la Sculpture Moderne, Hôtel de Ville, Yverdon, July-September 1954 (89); Begründer der modernen Plastik, Kunsthaus, Zurich, November-December 1954 (75); Julio González, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, April-May 1955 (73, repr.); Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, May-June 1955 (73, repr.); Kunsthalle, Bern, July-August 1955 (41, repr.); Musée des Beaux-Arts, La Chaux-de-Fonds, August-September 1955 (41, repr.); Julio González, Museum of Modern Art, New York, February-April 1956 (28, repr.); Minneapolis Institute of Arts, May-June 1956 (28, repr.); Julio González, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover, November-December 1957 (44, repr.); Haus Lange, Krefeld, December 1957-March 1958 (44, repr.); Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund, April 1958 (44, repr.); Städt. Museum Schloss Morsbroich, Leverkusen, May 1958 (44, repr.); Julio González, Sala de Santa Catalina del Ateneo, Madrid, March-April 1960 (5, repr.); Julio González, Galerie Chalette, New York, October-November 1961 (27, repr.); XXXII Biennale, Venice, June-October 1964 (France 97); Julio González, Felix Landau Gallery, Los Angeles, October 1965 (4); Julio González, Tate Gallery, September-October 1970 (35, repr.)
Lit: Pierre Descargues, Julio González (Paris 1971), p.157, repr. p.35; Josephine Withers, Julio González: Sculpture in Iron (New York 1978), No.83, pp.61, 64, 109, 163-4, repr. pl.66
Repr: Andrew Carnduff Ritchie, Sculpture of the Twentieth Century (New York 1952), p.165

This sculpture has usually been dated 1933 or c.1930-3, but Roberta González confirmed to Josephine Withers that it was executed in the new studio at Arcueil, which González began using late in 1933. Moreover both the drawings connected with it are dated 1934. It is a unique piece and has never been cast in bronze. It was originally on a compact base of rough stone (see, for instance, the photograph reproduced in Ritchie, loc.cit.), which was replaced by Roberta González after the sculptor's death with a base of smooth, flat sandstone, presumably in order to give it greater stability. As this did not suit it, and detracted from its vertical emphasis, a new base was substituted in 1975 made of Bath stone and of more or less the same size and shape as the original.

Although exhibited at Zurich in 1938 as 'Maternity', it has often been called 'Large Maternity' to distinguish it from a sculpture in copper wire 76cm. high (Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart), which is known as 'Small Maternity'. Dated 1934 when exhibited at Lucerne in 1935, this smaller sculpture may have been a preliminary study for the Tate's work. It is not only much more delicate, but the babe in arms is more clearly indicated than in T01242, where the two figures are more or less fused together. Josephine Withers points out that he may have had in mind an evocation of the sculpted Virgin which stands at the portal of Gothic cathedrals.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.315-6, reproduced p.315


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