González, Julio

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Julio González

Barcelona, 1876

Arcueil, Francia, 1942


Born to a family of goldsmiths and wrought iron artisans, Julio González soon began working in the family workshop. After a visit to the Prado Museum in 1897, he decided, along with his brother, to become a painter. In Barcelona, he came into contact with the Els Quatre Gats circle of intellectuals. In 1899, he traveled to Paris, where the next year his family followed him after closing down the workshop. In 1904 he met Picasso and joined his group, which already included artists such as Raynal, Jacob, Gargallo, Durrio and Hugué. In 1906 his older brother Joan died, so Julio had to take care of the family. Around this time, he showed paintings and jewelry that were somewhere between Modernism and Noucentisme at group exhibitions. 

In 1910 he made his first embossed metal masks, influenced by the African masks that had so impressed the Cubists. During World War II he studied autogenous welding at the Renault workshops. By using this technique in his sculptures, he revealed the expressive properties of the material, especially iron, obtaining volumetric shapes in which space was yet another constructive element through the assembly of metal fragments and sheet metal. 

In 1922 he held his first solo exhibition. In the late 1920s he devoted himself entirely to sculpture, creating works in cut and wrought iron and freeing himself from convention to ‘draw in space’. He used painting for the preliminary studies of his sculptural compositions or to portray them, with a sensibility close to Cubism yet without dispensing with figurative language. A constant feature of his work was the interestingly fine balance between abstraction and figuration. 

Between 1928 and 1932, the c0ollaboration between González and Picasso was fundamental for the thematic and technical evolution of both artists. Together they worked on creating sculptures such as the monument to Apollinaire. González went on to become an increasingly esteemed figure. His work developed from the study of planes and force lines that created figures and space. 

In 1937 he participated in the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris International Exposition with his iconic work La Monserrat, which condensed many of his previous artistic interests. This was the culmination of a creative research trajectory; with it, González positioned himself in the political and social standpoint demanded of artists in view of the turbulent situation, once again shunning all kinds of conventions and external impositions. That same year, 1937, now married to his partner Marie-Thérese Roux, he settled definitively in Arcueil, where he remained until his death. 

Noemi de Haro