Josep Maria Subirachs

Barcelona 1927 - 2014
“My sculpture is representative of my time. It has the contemporaneity and quality it should have. It will go down in art history.”

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Josep Maria Subirachs (Barcelona, 1927-2014) is one of the most important Catalan sculptors, who has evolved from expressionism to abstraction, in a process towards a personal style. At the age of twenty he worked in the workshop of the sculptor Enric Casanovas, whose influence is evident in the artist's early works (although the stylization of those figures already pointed to what would be his expressionist stage). In 1951, the Circle Maillol of the French Institute granted him a scholarship to continue his studies in Paris. From 1954 to 1956 he lived and worked in Belgium, where he held various exhibitions and participated in the Biennale of Amberes. At the end of the 1950s he becomes interested in iron. At the same time he worked with other materials (bronze, concrete, gres, wood) trying to highlight its plastic qualities from the variety of structures, colors and textures. Between 1958 and 1960 Subirachs began his important contribution in the field of public sculpture. In 1958 it was installed Form 212, the first abstract work placed in a public space in Barcelona; the following year was placed the relief Las Tablas de la Ley (Barcelona, facade of the Faculty of Law) -made in collaboration with the ceramist Antoni Cumella- and in 1960 it created the controversy with another abstract piece located in public space: Evocación marinera (1958-1960) in Barcelona’s Passeig de Joan de Borbó. In the same period he works in the sanctuary of the Virgen del Camino, inaugurated in 1961 in León, where he carries out the thirteen monumental figures of the façade, four bronze doors and various elements for the interior of the same temple. Parallelly, Subirachs begins the stage that Corredor-Matheos calls the penetrations and tensions, with shells and shells as the most usual plastic elements. Representative works of this stage are the Cross of San Miguel (1962, Montserrat) and the monuments dedicated to Narcís Monturiol (1963, Barcelona), to the victims of the Vallès rivers (1963, Rubí), in Pompeu Fabra (1965, Planoles) and at the Olympics of Mexico (1968, Mexico DF), among others. From 1965, Subirachs opted for a new figuration characterized by the introduction of plastic resources such as continuous profiles forming molds, twisted shapes, positive-negative play and, from the early seventies, the incorporation of pictorial elements. In addition to a notable international projection, with numerous exhibitions held and works located in cities and museums around the world, it is worth noting the presence of his production throughout Catalonia, with innumerable monumental works: façade of the new Barcelona City Hall building (1966–1969 ), monument to L'Hospitalet de Llobregat (1975), door of Sant Jordi of the Palace of the Lieutenant (1975, Barcelona), relief of Sant Jordi–Theseus in the loge that joins the Palace of the Generalitat with the House of the Canons ( 1976, Barcelona), monument to Ramon LIull (1976, Montserrat), chapel of the Holy Sacrament (1978, basilica of the Montserrat monastery), Barcelona relief (1979, Sants station, Barcelona), monument to the righting of the Generalitat of Catalonia (1982 , Cervera), monument to Francesc Macià (1983, Vilanova i la Geltrú), monument to Pau Casals (1984, El Vendrell), monument to Salvador Espriu (1986, Santa Coloma de Farners), monument to Borrell II (1986, Cardona), monument to Federico García Lorca (1988, Cadaqués), monument to the Millennium of Catalonia (1990, Tarragona), monument to Francesc Macià (1991, Barcelona). After devoting almost twenty years (1987–2005) to the facade of the Passion of the temple of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Subirachs considers that his sculptural facet has ended and begins a new stage in which the medium of expression is painting. Multi-faceted artist, in addition to the three-dimensional creation, Subirachs has also expressed his genius through other techniques, such as drawing, graphic work, book illustration or medalling.