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Julio Gonzales

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  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1056
  • Category: Artists

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            Julio Gonzales was a renowned artist who pioneered the use of constructed metal structure and his work has greatly impacted on the works of artists today despite the modern advancements in technological art.


This paper examines the work and career of Spanish artist Julio Gonzales and how he contributed to the advancement of modern art and especially in welded iron construction. The paper also gives a brief discussion about some of his major works that have contributed to his fame and also have inspired the modern artists. In addition, the contribution of his works has been highlighted in this paper. Finally, a conclusion is drawn based on the major arguments discussed herein.

Julio Gonzalez, a Spanish sculptor was born in 1876 in Barcelona .He begun working as a metal sculptor at an early age having learnt it from his father who was a goldsmith and sculptor. He had attended some drawing classes at the Barcelona University of art before moving to Paris, France in 1899. He met many artists in France among them Pablo Picasso who was also Spanish but Gonzales did not have a clue then of how Pablo would greatly influence his career. He practiced as a painter for a while but gave up painting and resumed to metal working after his brothers’ death in 1908. He trained as welder in 1918 gaining experience in autogenous soldering which would later be of great importance in his work.

When Gonzales started making welded iron sculptures in 1928, he incorporated Pablo Picasso in his work who mostly gave him the ideas while Gonzales himself contributed in the techniques.[1] During this time, his work gained recognition since it became not only more abstract but also more open and linear. One piece of work that he is renowned for is the La Montserrat. This was a sheet metal depiction of a woman holding a child in her arms which was a symbol of protesting against fascist oppression in France. This shows how art works can be used to communicate important messages. For example, in this case, Gonzalez used art work to express the plight of the French people that time. When welding gas became scarce due to the world war two in 1939, Gonzales was burned from using welding gas in his work so he resulted to drawing and modeling using plasticine and gypsum.[2]


Among his works included the woman combing her hair (1936), Montserrat (1936-1937), Gonzalez’s Head(1934) and Standing Figure (1932).After  discovering artistic work could not only be presented as drawings in a book he went ahead and used metallic materials to present it in the air this time using a welding torch instead of a pencil.[3]

According to him, the time had come for people and especially the artists not to use iron as weaponry or instrument of mechanical science only but instead put into other use such as making fine pieces of art.

            In one of his work Woman Combing her hair, the features used such as spines that are stiff , low curves and  pointed , spear like lines and points bring not only the image of a lady who is combing her hair but also depict an erotic quality.[4]This portrayed Gonzales as an artist who was very creative and capable of bringing out different aspects from the same piece of art.

 In another Monsarett II, a sculpture of a head of a woman her hair covered with a bandana, Gonzalez portrays her to appear as if she is in great agony.[5]


            Gonzalez significantly contributed to the art of making iron sculptures by using the knowledge  he had gained from welding while working in the Renault factory in Boulgne- Billancourt and applying  the techniques in his work. This led to him becoming a pioneer in the art of making metallic constructions. More so, Pablo Picasso who was one of the inventors of cubism was greatly assisted by Gonzalez in the research involving analytic cubism.[6] Gonzales also showed Pablo how to use oxy- fuel welding and cutting while working with him.

His impact in art is also manifested in exhibitions such as the Spanish Pavilion at the world Fair in Paris (La Monserrat, standing near Guernica), and to Cubism and Abstract Art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.[7]

He also inspired the works of later great metal sculptors such as David Smith an American artist and British artists such as Reg Butler and Anthony Caro. David Smith produced his first sculpture in 1933 from agricultural machinery after being inspired by published pictures of iron sculptures which had been made by Julio Gonzales and Pablo Picasso. While Anthony Caro got inspired by David Smiths’ work especially after his visit to the United States in 1959 and he learnt to construct abstract work from rigid pieces of metal.[8]


From the above discussion, it is evident that Julio Gonzalez was one artist who made a great impact in the world of art especially through his works which greatly inspired most artistes today.  More so, he played a very great role in pioneering welded iron constructions and giving them a creative look.


Cooper, Douglas, The Cubist Epoch (London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1970, pp. 11-221)

Gale, Thomson, “Julio Gonzalez.” Encyclopedia of World Biography 2004,

          Encyclopedia.com. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404702557.html

           (Accessed February 19, 2009).

 Museum of Modern Art, ( MoMA) Highlights (N.Y: The MoMA, rev. 2004, p. 168)

Withers, Josephine, Julio Gonzalez: Sculpture in Iron. (N.Y: NYUP, 1978, p.87)

[1]  Museum of Modern Art,(MoMA) Highlights (N.Y: The MoMA, rev. 2004, p. 168).

[2] Ibid. p.169

[3] Josephine, Withers, Julio Gonzalez: Sculpture in Iron. (New York: New York University Press,   1978, p.87)

[4] Thomson, Gale,  ” Julio Gonzalez.” Encyclopedia of World Biography 2004, Encyclopedia.com. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404702557.html (Accessed February 19, 2009)

[5]  Josephine Withers,  Julio Gonzalez: Sculpture in Iron. (New York: New York University Press, 1978, p. 84 )

[6] Douglas, Cooper,  The Cubist Epoch (London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1970, pp. 11-221)

[7]  Museum of Modern Art, (MoMA) Highlights (N.Y: The MoMA, rev. 2004, p. 168)

[8] Ibid. p. 172

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