Permanent Collection

Jorge Oteiza

Orio (Guipúzcoa), 1908–San Sebastián (Guipúzcoa), 2003
Las Meninas (The Convex and the Concave, the Dog and the Mirror), 1973Las Meninas (The Convex and the Concave, the Dog and the Mirror), 1973

Oteiza's commitment to the avant-garde led him to produce a body of work defined by a formal experimentation that could be described as rigorous and ordered. Starting from constructivist propositions, Oteiza experimented with the sculptural potential of the cube and prismatic shapes, developing a restrained formal repertoire that defined his style as a whole.

In 1930 the Russian sculptor Naum Gabo explained the differences between traditional carved sculpture and constructivist sculpture: while the former aimed to represent the mass of a volume, the latter presented space as a visible fact. Assuming this proposition, Oteiza turned space into the ultimate subject of his formal experimentation in a trajectory that lead to the creation of both his "empty boxes" and works carved in stone. The latter includes Las meninas, which represents a volume that has been carved, or hollowed out in the case of some of its faces, following geometrical rules that generate voids which are as appealing as the mass itself.

For Oteiza, space was not a merely philosophically speculative concept but a real, concrete element capable of action and expression in itself. Hence, the formal repertoire that he developed in the late 1950s was extremely innovative for the time. To some extent it also opposed the prevailing currents of informalism, which were based on an overstated gestural expressivity. Oteiza's radical ideas and his formal universe have exercised a profound influence on succeeding generations of Spanish artists.

Javier Maderuelo, en Catalog Museo de Arte Abstracto Español, Cuenca, Fundación Juan March, Madrid, 2016