Eduardo Chillida Juantegui, born January 10, 1924 in San Sebastian (Spain), was a Spanish Basque sculptor and engraver.
Before becoming a sculptor, Eduardo Chillida was a goalkeeper for Real Sociedad, but with a meniscus injury he ended his career. From 1943 to 1947, Eduardo Chillida studied architecture in Madrid. In 1947, he abandoned his studies and attended the Art Academy in Madrid where he decided to devote himself to sculpture. He exhibited in Paris in the early 1950s, where he gave his first exhibition in 1949 at the Salon de Mai. He moved to the Spanish Pavilion at the Cité Universitaire and met Brancusi and Spanish painters and sculptors such as Antoni Tàpies, Baltasar Lobo, Ginés Parra, and Orlando Pelayo.
In 1951, he returned to San Sebastian to marry Pili de Belzunce and participated in a group exhibition at the Galerie Maeght. That same year he made his first iron sculpture, Ilarik.
In 1954, he made his first solo exhibition at the Clan Gallery in Madrid. That same year, he sculpted the doors in low relief of the basilica of the Franciscan monks of Arantzazu. In 1955, he executed a stone sculpture to commemorate Sir Alexander Flemming in San Sebastian. In 1956, held his first major exhibition at the Galerie Maeght in Paris, and became one of the artists of the Gallery.
In 1958, he exhibited at the Spanish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, and made his first trip to the United States, where he participated in an exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum, and at the Pittsburgh Museum of Art, Carnegie Institution.
He received the Graham Foundation Prize, as well as the Kandinsky Prize by Nina Kandinsky in 1961. In 1962, he made a personal exhibition at the Kunsthalle in Basel and participated in the museum’s exhibition “Three Spaniards: Picasso, Miró, Chillida” Houston Fine Arts.
He was nicknamed “the blacksmith” because of his taste for monumental metal sculptures. Chillida also worked with other materials: wood, iron, granite and more contemporary materials such as concrete and corten steel.
His works on paper are an important part of his creation. In ink, pencil, or through the technique of engraving, his works follow the same principle as his sculptures. To create different levels in her works, Chillida uses the cutting and gluing of newsprint, wrapping paper, etc. He can also punch through the paper supports, holding them together with string.
The artist has won numerous awards for his prints (etchings) and for his sculptures. In 1998, the Reina Sofía museum in Madrid devoted a large exhibition to him. It is the Kunsthaus of Zurich which grants him its first retrospective exhibition in 1969. His works, sculptures, drawings, engravings, illustrated books, are part of large private and public collections around the world. The Chillida Museum in Hernani, near San Sebastian, houses around forty works in an open-air space on a property from the XVIIth century. It has been closed to the public since January 1, 2011, but remains open to researchers.
Chillida died in 2002 after suffering from a long illness; he was already suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.