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Valuable Eduardo Chillida sculpture, "GNOMON II", stolen from a Cologne art gallery
Eduardo Chillida, GNOMON II, 1984. Steel. 17,5 x 23 x 26 cms.
COLOGNE.- Unknown persons have stolen a valuable sculpture by the Spanish artist, Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002), from a Cologne art gallery. The theft took place on Wed. 29 February while the gallery was open, the police said today. The iron sculpture, Gnomon II, weighing around 20 to 25 kilograms, was placed on a pedestal in an exhibition commemorating the tenth anniversary of the death of the Basque sculptor and graphic artist. It was not for sale, but on loan. A reward of EUR 5,000 has been offered for information leading to the recovery of the art work.

In commemoration of the tenth obituary anniversary of the Basque sculptor, drawer and architect Eduardo Chillida (born 1924 in San Sebastián) the Baukunst Galerie is showing the fourth solo exhibition in cooperation with the Museum Chillida-Leku in Hernani.

Simultaneously the Picasso-Museum Münster is showing a retrospective allowing further insight into Chillidas oeuvre.

Besides a selection of terracotta sculptures, called "Lurras" (Basque: earth), the focal point of the exhibition is on drawings and collages from different decades as well as some large-scale graphic works from the 1980s.

Space, volume, form and materiality are of equivalent importance for Chillidas work. The idea of the area as a public space, the architecture of buildings as well as the historic and cultural awareness of a city or region made Chillida one of the first side-specific working sculptors. One example are the Wind Combs (1977) at San Sebastán bay which are exposed to the elements of the sea and wind as well as the monumental steel sculpture positioned in front of the Federal Chancellery of the Republic of Germany on the occasion of the German reunification.

In the late 1940s, the artist drew fine lines with pencils as well as with ink. Within the following decade he ended up using a brush and the fine lines disperse into an area. Chillida sees the drawing-paper as an undefined space, which has to be defined by drawing. His first subject, the nude was replaced later by the study of hands (1949-1974). The shadeless, figurative picture is only defined by a line, which creates volume and ambiance. The nudes are not made in front of a life model. Chillida draws a very delicate continuous line to examine the elements of the human body. He elaborates its sculptural characteristics and interactions with the empty space. Here, the lines are seldom interrupted compared to the lines of his hand studies, which are sometimes disappearing into hatchings and single points. Without its anatomic context a hand appears in the composition. The artists interest is focussed on the spatial phenomena of the finger´s movement and the changing patterns of wrinkles of the hand. One can say that Chillida analyses space, cavities and interspaces as well as the lines. The figurative depiction of the hand and its fingers becomes free and more fragmented. With the drawings of hands the artist prepares already the idea of the collage by cutting the edges of the paper sheet.

The subject of the hand still appears in the work of Chilida during the period of Informel and Abstract Expressionism, which dismantle form more evident in the sketches than in sculpture. Prior, body-like motives as the nudes and hands defined the space. Now the drawings are abstract, fragmented lines bring up new questions of space. At the end of the 1950s, the style of his sculptures as well as in his paperworks changed: the composition becomes more compact, cubic and closed. Finally, the brushstroke becomes more and more important in his drawings and the lines disperse into a black area which divides the space into negative and positive fields.

Not only with the black-and-white contrast, but also through the progression of the collage technique he develops and questions the architectural approach. The geometric forms are cut out of brownish paper, hardly ever showing a right angle, are glued on top of each other. In the late 1980s, Chillida invented the "Gravitations" and does not use glue to attach every layer on top of each other. Several layers of the shaped papers are hanging on two strings. Besides the essential questions about positive and negative, the interspace comes into focus by making it visible through the different cut-outs. Furthermore, the question about the weight and lightness of the material is of particular importance.

Between 1977 and 1981 about 500 sculptures, the so called "Lurras", occurred. They are made of a mixture of terracotta and chamotte. Chillida discovers this natural material at Hans Spinners work shop.

Instead of modelling the clay, it stays in cuboid shape and has to be fired in the kiln after a time-consuming process of preparation.

The colour of the relatively small and compact works is the result of the duration and the temperature of the firing. Chillidas procedure is intuitive, he decides while he is working. The "Lurras" show cuts and slits throughout, which seem to separate the terracotta sculpture into parts. Occasionally, he cuts out single forms. These unique pieces invites the viewer to observe multiple perspectives. The interaction with space is barely visible from one point of view. Nevertheless, the sculpture appears to be connected to their energetic compactness, even though the single parts seem to break apart due to gravity.

Eduardo Chillidas oeuvre has been shown in numerous major exhibitions. The Guggenheim Museum in New York devoted him a retrospective in 1989. Chillidas work was shown in Germany at the Kunstmuseum Bonn and the Westfälisches Landesmuseum in Münster in 1989, at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt in 1993 and at the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin in 1998. On the occasion of his 75th birthday, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao dedicated him a major retrospective in 1999. Worldwide, the most important museums and collections own works by the artist. Chillida has received many international awards, amongst others the "Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Preis" of the City of Duisburg, the "Kaiserring" of the city of Goslar and the medal "pour le mérite" for science and arts of the Federal Republic of Germany. In many cities Chillida's sculptures are located in public spaces.

If you have any information that may help find the sculpture, please contact:

Joachim Knaack
Cologne Central Police Station
Crime Division
Detective Superintendent's Office 71 Walter-Pauli-Ring 2 - 6
D-51103 Cologne
Tel.: +49 (0)221- 229 - 8156
Fax : +49 (0)221- 229 - 8712
e-mail: joachim.knaack@polizei.nrw.de





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