Eduardo Chillida - Godofredo Ortega Muñoz - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

2024-06-25 • 2024-10-21

Eduardo Chillida – Godofredo Ortega Muñoz


Rooms 18–20

In June 2022, the museum launched BBKateak, an initiative that has enabled sixty-four encounters between 110 artists in the collection to be displayed in the old building’s twenty-one rooms over these two years. This curatorial project has sought to show dynamically—with a weekly room change—the chronological extent and richness of the roster of artists harboured at the museum, as well as the vast variety of techniques and creative purposes in its collection. 

The programme is now ending with an exceptional encounter between two great twentieth century artists, one Basque and the other Spanish, who at first glance seem leagues apart in their interests and works: Godofredo Ortega Muñoz (San Vicente de Alcántara, Badajoz, 1899–Madrid, 1982) and Eduardo Chillida (San Sebastián, 1924–2002). 

With this goal in mind, the three rooms now being unveiled contain twenty-one works: twelve by Chillida—seven sculptures in granite, terracotta (two), alabaster, steel, stone and wood, and five works on paper—and nine paintings by Ortega Muñoz.   

The historian Javier González de Durana, the artistic coordinator of the Fundación Ortega Muñoz (Badajoz), has chosen each of the pieces displayed following a subtle conversation of lines, colours, empty spaces and gestures that highlight points of encounter, as well as differences. 

The intertwined look at the works of both artists is also reflected in the brief book with texts by González de Durana that the museum has published for the occasion. 


Eduardo Chillida - Godofredo Ortega Muñoz

Even though they are from different generations, they coincided several times both personally and in exhibitions in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. In addition to using different materials and techniques—Chillida was primarily a sculptor and Ortega Muñoz a painter—they worked in quite different registers and with clearly distinct purposes in worlds that conceptually have little or no relationship to one another. 

Chillida represented where art was going—the invention of his own abstract personal language—and Ortega Muñoz where it was coming from—realism in the common painting genres. At the time, nobody saw any type of connection or familiarity between them; instead, they were viewed as opposites. 

However, after more than half a century, and now beyond the theoretical simplifications that relate realism with tradition and stagnation and abstraction with the avant-garde and progress, today we can acknowledge the existence of a common underlying modernity that each achieved in his own way, sometimes using similar formal and compositional solutions that connect the formal universe of Chillida’s sculptures, drawings and engravings with Ortega Muñoz’s painted landscapes. 

In addition to this yearning for modernity, they also shared personalities that shunned fads and groups and both coherently defended their artistic quests and discoveries. 

Sobre los artistas

Eduardo Chillida

(San Sebastián, 1924-2002)

He studied architecture in Madrid between 1943 and 1947, but he left the university to take drawing classes. After 1948, once he was living in Paris, he made his first plaster sculptures and exhibited them at the 1949 and 1950 Salon de Mai. He moved to Hernani (Gipuzkoa) in 1951, where he made abstract sculptures of carved iron. 

In 1954, he held his first solo exhibition at the Clan gallery in Madrid; in 1956 the Galerie Maeght presented his first solo show in Paris; and two years later he won the International Sculpture Award at the twenty-ninth Venice Biennale. 

His interest in the qualities of materials drove him to work with iron, granite, alabaster, steel, wood and chamotte clay with a language somewhere between informalist gesturality and constructive forcefulness. Throughout his career, he earned numerous national and international accolades, and he created his Chillida Leku foundation in Hernani (Gipuzkoa) in 2000. 

Godofredo Ortega Muñoz

(San Vicente de Alcántara, Badajoz, 1899-Madrid, 1982)

A self-taught painter, Ortega Muñoz went against his father’s wishes to study at the university and moved to Madrid in 1919. There he often visited the Museo del Prado and dabbled in the bohemian art scene. In 1920, he left for Paris, and discomfited by the artistic crisis of the inter-war years, he moved to Italy to seek the simplicity of the primitives. He travelled and lived in different European and North African countries until 1940. 

He returned to Extremadura in 1940, and one decade later, he moved back to Madrid to create his pared-down, essential landscapes. In 1953 he won the Grand Prize in Painting at the second Havana Biennial, and in 1958 he was given a room of his own at the twenty-nineth Venice Biennale. In 1970, he was celebrated with a retrospective at the Casón del Buen Retiro in Madrid. 

Eduardo Chillida

(San Sebastián, 1924-2002)

Entre 1943 y 1947 estudió Arquitectura en Madrid, pero dejó la universidad para tomar clases de dibujo. A partir de 1948, instalado ya en París, realizó sus primeras esculturas en yeso y expuso en el Salon de Mai de 1949 y 1950. En 1951 se trasladó a Hernani (Gipuzkoa), donde elaboró esculturas abstractas en hierro labrado.

En 1954 tuvo su primera exposición personal en la galería Clan de Madrid, en 1956 la Galerie Maeght presentó su primera individual en París y dos años más tarde recibió el Premio Internacional de Escultura en la XXIX Bienal de Venecia.

El interés por las cualidades de los materiales le animó a trabajar el hierro, el granito, el alabastro, el acero, la madera y la arcilla chamota, con un lenguaje entre la gestualidad informalista y la contundencia constructiva. A lo largo de su trayectoria, obtuvo numerosos reconocimientos nacionales e internacionales. En 2000 creó su fundación Chillida Leku en Hernani (Gipuzkoa).

Godofredo Ortega Muñoz

(San Vicente de Alcántara, Badajoz, 1899-Madrid, 1982)

Pintor autodidacta, Ortega Muñoz se opuso a los deseos de su padre de cursar estudios universitarios y se trasladó a Madrid en 1919. Allí frecuentó el Museo del Prado y los ambientes artísticos bohemios. En 1920 se marchó a París e, incómodo con la crisis artística de entreguerras, se mudó a Italia para encontrar la sencillez de los primitivos. Hasta 1940 viajó y residió en diversos países europeos y norteafricanos.

Regresó a Extremadura en 1940 y una década después se instaló de nuevo en Madrid para elaborar sus depurados y esenciales paisajes. En 1953 obtuvo el Gran Premio de Pintura en la II Bienal Hispanoamericana de Arte de La Habana y en 1958 dispuso de una sala personal en la XXIX Bienal de Venecia. En 1970 se consagró con su exposición retrospectiva en el Casón del Buen Retiro de Madrid

Exhibition catalog

Los orígenes de una colección. Los museos de Bellas Artes y Arte Moderno de Bilbao

  • Author: Javier González de Durana
  • ISBN: 978-84-18171-20-8
  • Language: Spanish
  • Measures: 18 W x 21 H
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • N°. of pages: 88
  • N° of illustrations: 51 (color, B&W)

View in the museum store

Room sheet