"Every religion has its temple, but the only one which through the mystery of its architectural lines, purifies our thoughts and raises them above the world, is Gothic (ogival) art. This is what the architect of the Ile de France, faithful interpreter of his country's spirit, has succeeded so well (in doing) and with such grandeur in expressing." (Julio Gonzlez, 'Picasso Sculpteur et les Cathdrals, reproduced in J. Withers, Julio Gonzlez: Sculpture in Iron, New York 1978, p. 138).
Executed in 1937, the present work is one of Gonzlez's most refined sculptures. Despite its title, the sculpture is less a recognisable human figure than an elegant architectural assemblage of carefully crafted and somewhat geometric forms that through the tactile quality of Gonzlez's craftsmanship have been infused with an expressive humanity.
Hans Hartung and Henri Goetz have cited Gonzlez's interest in mathematically derived proportional systems in the late 1930s - systems which Hartung regarded as being both "elaborate and confusing". Although it is evident that Gonzlez applied some kind of proportional sense of geometry in many of his works of this period, in the present work, the logic of Gonzlez's aesthetic has clearly been determined less by a concrete system than by the artist's powerful intuitive feeling for scale and volume.
As its title suggests, the structure of L'homme gothique has been arrived at through an approach similar to that of the creation of the Gothic spires of Barcelona's cathedrals on which Gonzlez commentated; "When an architect of the cathedral conceives one of his magnificent spires, it is not of geometry that he thinks; at this moment, it is only a question of giving it a beautiful form which while responding to architectural requirements, can at the same time idealize that which his imagination and heart inspire in him." (ibid., p. 134).
With its elongated arch, its gulley and its constructed play of open and enclosed space, L'homme gothique is a masterly combination of strong architectural features forged together with a wide variety of thick welds to form a seemingly organic whole. This organic architecture has been orchestrated and infused with a personality through only the subtlest of parallels between its forms and those of the human body to create a unique and highly evocative work of great formal innovation and subtle power.
Paris, Muse Nationale d'Art Moderne, Julio Gonzlez, February-March 1952, no. 107 (iron version illustrated and titled 'Personnage Debout, 1937').
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Julio Gonzlez, February-April 1956, no. 52 (iron version illustrated p. 36). This exhibition later travelled to Minneapolis, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, May-June 1956.
London, Tate Gallery, Julio Gonzlez, September-October 1970, no. 57 (iron version illustrated p. 24). This exhibition later travelled to Montpellier, Muse Fabre, November 1970-January 1971, no. 43.
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Julio Gonzlez: A Retrospective, March-May 1983, no. 207 (iron version illustrated p. 172). This exhibition later travelled to Frankfurt-am-Main, Stdtische Galerie im Stdelschen Kunstinstitut, Julio Gonzlez 1876-1942 Plastiken, Zeichnungen, Kunstgewerbe, June-August 1983, no. 105 (iron version illustrated p. 172) and Berlin, Akademie der Knste, September-October 1983.
Glasgow, Art Gallery & Museum, Julio Gonzlez, April-June 1990, no. 41 (iron version illustrated). This exhibition later travelled to London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, June-August 1990 and Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, August-September 1990.
Cajarc, La Maison des Arts George Pompidou, Hans Hartung dialogue avec Julio Gonzlez, June-September 1991 (iron version exhibited and illustrated). This exhibition later travelled to Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio Gonzlez, October 1991-January 1992.
Paris, Galerie de France, Une rencontre: Hans Hartung et Julio Gonzlez 1935-1952, January-March 1992, no. 43 (iron version illustrated). This exhibition later travelled to Lugano, Galleria Pieter Coray, April-May 1992.
Bern, Kunstmuseum, Julio Gonzlez - Zeichnen im Raum/Dessiner dans l'espace, June-September 1997, no. 165 (illustrated p. 191).
21 1/4in. (54cm.) high including base 19 1/4in. (49cm.) high excluding base
L. Degand, Gonzlez, Modern Sculptors, Amsterdam 1958, no. 28 (illustrated).
V. Aguilera Cerni, Julio Gonzlez, Rome 1962, no. LIX (illustrated).
V. Aguilera Cerni, Julio, Joan, Roberta Gonzlez - Itinerario de una dinastia, Barcelona 1973, no. 244 (iron version illustrated p. 282).
J. Withers, Julio Gonzlez, Sculpture in Iron, New York 1978, no. 120 (illustrated p. 95).
J. Merkert, Julio Gonzlez, catalogue raisonn des sculptures, Milan 1987, no. 228 (illustrated p. 259).
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