Julio González - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session New York Thursday, November 18, 2021 | Phillips
  • Beginning in the late 1920s, Julio González, working in collaboration with Pablo Picasso, radically broke from the established traditions of sculpture.  Rejecting the carving or modeling used for centuries, the artists worked directly with their medium, welding iron together to form assemblage sculptures. Though working side-by-side with Picasso during this period, it was González, born in Spain to a family of metalsmiths, who had the unique and necessary combination of technical skill and innate artistic understanding of the possibility offered by welded sculpture.  Through this revolutionary technique, González was able to accomplish a feat not previously achieved in art, described in his own words as “drawing in space.” 



    Personnage allongé II, first conceived in iron circa 1936, was created during an intense period of production and invention within González’s oeuvre; the present work is a bronze cast after the original iron in 1939. It was in the early 1930s when González, by then working independently from Picasso, radically evolved his art from a planar approach to more starkly linear compositions. González not only changed his approach but also his subject matter during this period, shifting from his earlier focus on masks and heads to incorporate other classical subject matter rendered using his distinctive visual idiom.


    In Personnage allongé II, the traditional reclining figure is transformed through abstraction and imbued with a modern energy. González’s style was rooted in Cubism at its core, and that fundamental quality is clear in the present work where the human body has been reduced to its most fundamental and essential components through an economy of line.  The unadorned angularity of the form creates a dynamism within the figure: there is a sense of vitality and movement even when one is acutely aware of the innate permanence of the work’s medium.  Beyond only tangible physical materials, González conceived of utilizing space itself as a vital and intrinsic element within his sculpture.  “In order to give his work the maximum power and beauty, the sculptor is obliged to conserve a certain mass and to maintain the exterior contour,” the artist elucidated. “So it is on this mass that he has to focus his attention, his imagination, his technical skill, his way of conserving all its power... In traditional sculpture a leg is formed from a single block; but in sculpture that uses SPACE as a MATERIAL, that same leg may be HOLLOW, made at a STROKE within an assembly that thus forms one block. Traditional sculpture has a horror of hollows and empty spaces. This new kind of sculpture makes the maximum use of their potential and now thinks of them as an INDISPENSABLE material.”1

    "Brancusi through direct carving in wood or stone, González through direct forging in metal — that the new vision of sculpture as we know it today was born."
    —Margit Rowell, art historian and curator

    There were at least four preparatory drawings for the work, including Reclining Figure with a Large Hand, 1936, now in the collection of The Tate Modern, London.  The original iron version is housed at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; while a further bronze cast is in the collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris.  

    1 Julio González, quoted in Picasso and the Age of Iron, exh. cat, Solomon. R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1993, p. 283

    • Provenance

      The Pace Gallery, New York
      Private Collection, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Julio González, 1952, no. 98 (another cast exhibited)
      Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum; Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Julio González, 1955, no. 87, n.p. (another cast exhibited)
      New York, Museum of Modern Art, Julio González, 1956, no. 39 (another cast exhibited)
      London, Tate Gallery, Julio González 1876–1942, les matériaux de son expression, 1970, no. 69 (another cast exhibited)
      New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Julio González: A Retrospective, 1983, no. 184, p. 155 (another cast exhibited)
      Frankfurt am Main, Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut; Berlin, Akademie der Künste, Julio González 1876–1942: Plastiken, Zeichnungen, Kunstgewerbe, March 11–October 23, 1983, no. 97, p. 153 (another cast exhibited and illustrated)
      Glasgow Art Gallery & Museum; London, Whitechapel Art Gallery; Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, Julio González, Sculptures and Drawings, April 21–September 16, 1990, no. 32, p. 75 (another cast exhibited and illustrated)
      New York, Dickinson Roundell, Julio González, A Retrospective Exhibition, May 6–June 28, 2002, no. 31, pp. 88–89, 168 (another cast exhibited and illustrated, p. 89)

    • Literature

      Vicente Aguilera Cerni, Julio González, Rome, 1962, pl. LVI, p. 107 (another cast illustrated, n.p.)
      Pierre Descargues, Julio González, Paris, 1971, no. 26, n.p. (another cast illustrated)
      Vicente Aguilera Cerni, Julio, Joan, Roberta Gonzalez—Itinerario De Una Dinastia, Barcelona, 1973, no. 243, p. 281 (another cast illustrated)
      Josephine Withers, Julio Gonzalez, Sculpture in Iron, New York, 1978, no. 109, fig. 96, pp. 82, 166 (iron cast illustrated, p. 82)
      Jörn Merkert, Julio González, Catalogue raisonné des sculptures, Milan, 1987, no. 208, p. 226 (iron cast illustrated)

    • Artist Biography

      Julio González

      Widely regarded as the “father of all iron sculpture,” Julio González is best known for his expressive use of iron as a sculptural medium and his close collaboration with the leading artists of his day, including Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brancusi. 

      González was born in Barcelona in 1876 to a family of metalworkers. After their father died, González and his brother Joan assumed ownership of the family workshop and focused their attention to furthering their artistic aspirations. The brothers immersed themselves in Barcelona’s vibrant cultural scene, frequenting the Els Quatre Gats café, where they developed friendships with artists such as Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. González later moved to Paris and undertook training in welding, the technique that would undergird his later artistic successes. While González worked with many of his contemporaries in Paris, his collaboration with Picasso was especially impactful as it provided González with an intellectual framework for creating linear, cubistic sculptures made of iron. González’s work from this time popularized the use of forged and welded iron in artmaking and is unique in that the artist participated directly in the creation of his work, in comparison to many of his contemporaries who sent their work to be executed at foundries.

      Gonzales’s work has been celebrated during and after his lifetime. He exhibited at the Spanish Pavilion of the 1937’s World Fair in Paris alongside Picasso’s Guernica and his work is represented in the collections of leading cultural institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. González died in Arceuil, France in 1942.

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Personnage allongé II

stamped with the artist's signature and number "J. GONZALEZ ©" lower center of reverse; incised with the foundry mark and number "E. Godard Fondr 1/8" interior of left curved form
sculpture 10 3/8 x 14 5/8 x 6 3/4 in. (26.4 x 37.1 x 17.1 cm)
base 1 x 13 7/8 x 5 5/8 in. (2.5 x 35.2 x 14.3 cm)
overall 11 3/8 x 14 5/8 x 6 3/4 in. (28.9 x 37.1 x 17.1 cm)

Conceived in iron circa 1936 and cast in bronze on June 13, 1979, this work is number 1 from an edition of 8 plus 2 zero casts, 1 artist's proof, 1 hors commerce cast and 1 for the donation González.

Another cast from this edition is housed in the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou—Musée national d'art moderne, Paris (donation González cast).

Full Cataloguing

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $201,600

Contact Specialist

John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session, New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session

New York Auction 18 November 2021