Julio González Pellicer (Barcelona, 1876 Arcueil, France, 1942) is considered the father of modern sculpture in iron. Despite being one of the most important names Catalonia has given to universal art (along with Gaudí, Dalí or Miró, for example), he has never enjoyed the same popularity.
With the object of making his work known, the Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia
(MNCARS), in partnership with the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
(MNAC), is organising the largest retrospective of his work ever held in Spain. More than two hundred pieces have been gathered, including iron sculptures, forged bronzes, paintings, drawings and decorative items from the MNAC, MNCARS, Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM), Centre Pompidou and other museums and private collections in Europe and the United States.
Julio González trained as an artisan at his father's artistic metalwork business at a time when Barcelona was fizzing with Modernisme. He began his career as a painter, but like most artists of the time he moved to Paris, a one-way journey in his case. His craftsman's training and his mastery of autogenous welding, a technique he learnt in a French factory during the First World War, were key to Julio González's rise as a master of sculpture in iron. His period as a sculptor was his most fruitful, but paradoxically it only takes in the last ten years of his life.
González created a new sculptural language that has been described as abstract. It is based on a fusion of matter and space, a new way of understanding sculpture (he defined it as 'drawing in space') which the public can admire in masterpieces like Woman before the Mirror, Woman Combing her Hair or Daphne.
The exhibition is organised in seven sections, one of which contains various works relating to La Montserrat, a sculpture exhibited in 1937 at the International Exhibition in Paris, in which González expresses his support for the Republic and his firm condemnation of the war. In this respect, the artist's own words were highly eloquent when he wrote. 'It is time iron cease to be a murderer [...] The door is opened wide to this material to be at last forged and hammered by the peaceful hands of artists.