Presenting The Vicente Larrea Donation
Sculptor Vicente Larrea donates seven works to the Bilbao Fne Arts Museum
Sculptor Vicente Larrea (Bilbao, 1934) recently donated seven sculptures to the Museum, six in bronze and one in stainless steel, executed between 1967 and 2002. Valued at 645,000, they are all unique works from the artists own collection.
1.- Space for a Life I, 1967. Bronze. 35 x 43 x 55 cm
2.- Chain 3, 1968. Bronze. 33 x 16 x 22 cm
3.- Project for a Deactivated Prison, 1969. Stainless steel. 52 x 60 x 67 cm
4.- Santimamie one encore (Railwayman), 1971. Bronze. 52 x 28 x 37 cm
5.- Achcarro, Alzola and Hoffmeyer, 2002. Bronze. 29.5 x 58 x 26 cm
6.- Churruca, 2002. Bronze. 62.5 x 51 x 61 cm
7.- Bastida, 2002. Bronze. 37.5 x 31 x 32 cm
Currently on display in gallery 32, the group is accompanied by four other works by Larrea already in the Museum collection. Together they give an idea of the artists evolution from his beginnings in constructive geometric sculpture to his mature style based on the free development of organic form. They are sculptures constructed from a single continuous natural-looking metal plate of varying thickness, and which flows in obeisance to a baroque, undulating rhythm that encompasses mass, hollows in shadow and the almost decorative finish of the metals edges.
Other works on display
1.- Homage to Kirikio, 1966. Bronze and stone. 52 x 34.5 x 51.8 cm. Acquired 1990
2.- Stock 2, 1967. Painted wood. 198 x 170.5 x 70 cm. Donated by the artist in 2010
3.- Concentric Forms, 1968. Stainless steel. 42 x 40 x 30 cm. Acquired 1968
4.- Dodekathlos, 1997-1998. Bronze. 85 x 88 x 42 cm. Donated by the artist in 2003
Achcarro, Alzola and Hoffmeyer, Churruca and Bastida are in fact the bronze models for larger works with the same titles which, in 2003 and 2004, were permanently sited in Bilbaos Plaza San Jos. They are tributes to the engineers, town planners and architects who made a decisive contribution to the citys urban development.
Dodekathlos, which Larrea also donated to the Museum in 2003, is a torso that pays homage both to the Greek athletes who competed in the twelve sporting events and to the workers of the long-gone Euskalduna shipyards. The sculpture belongs to a series of sculptures that have, since 1987, diligently been rediscovering anthropomorphic figurative motifs; it is also an example of the bronzes that prefigured some of the artists major public sculptures in iron. In this particular case, the corresponding site-specific public sculpture can be found outside the citys Euskalduna Conference & Performing Arts Centre.
Preparatory works and definitive versions are done in the artists preferred media, cast iron and cast bronze. Larrea uses iron for medium- or large-scale works, which are almost always the result of enlarging and modifying the preliminary models cast in bronze. Using one medium or the other conditions certain aspects of the work, such as the thickness of the metal plate, proportionally greater in the sculptures in iron, and the surface modelling, which in the bronzes is flakier, more fragmented to light, producing an unsettling effect of dematerialization, something that is certainly true of Dodekathlos.
Apart from these works, the Museum collection includes one of the very best examples of Larreas style, The Venus of Santimamie (1985-1986. Iron. 207 x 115 x 94.5 cm. Acquired in 1986). The sculpture alludes to the cavern with pre-historic paintings in Gautegiz Arteaga (Bizkaia) a few kilometres outside Bilbao. This particular Venus is now on permanent display in the Museum entrance hall.
Vicente Larrea (Bilbao, 1934)
Larrea began art training with his father, the Bilbao sculptor Jos Larrea Echaniz. He continued at the School of Arts & Crafts and at the Museum of Copies and Reproductions in Bilbao. In 1957 he graduated as a technical engineer in mining and iron and steel. He rounded off this early phase with several sojourns in the studio of sculptor Raymond Dubois in Solesmes, France. In 1966 he was a member of the Emen and Gaur groups of contemporary Basque artists. In 1968 he held his first one-man show at the Grises gallery in Bilbao.
With the experience and solid know-how gleaned from extensive studio training, Vicente Larrea launched himself into abstract art in 1968 with a series of constructive geometric sculptures, straight or curved of line, that gave little or no inkling of his subsequent output, except in his liking for dynamic, somewhat baroque structures and the modelling of surfaces. After some time spent alternating geometric with organic forms, Larrea finally plumped for the latter, and these organic forms gradually became more complex and reclusive until the interior of the sculpture was all but closed off to the observer.
Together with Mendiburu and Balerdi, Larrea was part of a three-man generation within Basque abstract art characterized by an interest in appearances and natural descriptions, and by the exuberance of form and an unusual intensity of expression. Larreas own essential expressive option, unearthed in the early seventies, was the continuous metal plate or sheet, of varying thickness depending on the dimensions of the work in hand; freely bent and folded, the metal is worked until a hollow sculpture is configured, riddled through on the inside by a labyrinthine cavity similar to the way some natural caves burrow and gallery into the rock. These underground routes are accompanied by a succession of baroque forms on the outside, so that the full volumes and shadowy, sombre internal hollows strike up an intangible and yet perfectly perceptible relationship.
Basque Artists: A Guide, Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, 2008.