Hauser & Wirth Snaps Up Eduardo Chillida Estate as It Plans to Reopen the Artist’s Basque Country Museum

With a little help from the gallery, Chillida’s children plan to reopen the award-winning Chillida-Leku.

Elogio del Horizonte © Zabalaga-Leku. ARS, New York / VEGAP, Madrid, 2017 Courtesy The Estate of Eduardo Chillida and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Jesús Uriarte

Expect to see much more of Eduardo Chillida’s work in the future. In a deal announced on Thursday, the estate of the Basque-Spanish abstract sculptor has joined forces with Hauser & Wirth. The powerhouse gallery will represent the artist worldwide. Chillida (1924–2002) joins a growing number of artists estates globally represented by the gallery, including those of David Smith, Hans Arp, and August Sander.

Thanks to the new partnership, Chillida’s family (the artist had eight children) plan to fully reopen the artist’s museum Chillida-Leku next year, which their father created in 2000 in his native Basque country. The open-air museum is near San Sebastian, where he was born. Chillida installed his work in the landscape and in old agricultural buildings, but the family struggled to make the award-winning museum sustainable and it closed to the public in 2011, remaining accessible only by appointment.

Chillida’s work at Chillida-Leku
© Zabalaga-Leku. ARS, New York / VEGAP, Madrid, 2017
Courtesy The Estate of Eduardo Chillida and Hauser & Wirth
Photo: Isigo Santiago

The museum is due to reopen in 2018, but with one new dimension. In addition to featuring Chillida’s sculpture and drawings, it will present exhibitions of work by “other major figures from the art historical canon,” according to a press statement. Luis Chillida, the artist’s son said on behalf of his family that they chose Hauser & Wirth because of its experience working with artists’ estates and its “family-orientated approach.” 

Hauser & Wirth’s president, Iwan Wirth, said that the gallery looks forward to furthering Chillida’s reputation “in the United States as well as in Europe and Asia.” He said he was thrilled to support the reopening of Chillida-Luku, adding that one of the gallery’s first shows 25 years ago featured the artist’s work.

The gallery isn’t wasting any time cementing its new relationship. It is planning a Chillida exhibition in the gallery’s 69th Street space in New York next year. (The first major Chillida show in New York in more than three decades was organized in 2015 by Pilar Ordovas.) Hauser & Wirth has also pledged to work with the estate on the artist’s archive.  

Meanwhile, the Guggenheim Bilbao is devoting an entire floor to Chillida’s work in the exhibition “Art and Space,” which is due to open on December 5 (until April 15, 2018). The Spanish modernist’s sculptures and graphic works will be shown in dialogue with works by other contemporary artists including Vija Celmins, Olafur Eliasson, General Idea, and Robert Gober.

Chillida studied to be an architect and played professional football before turning to sculpture. He represented Spain at the 1958 Venice Biennale and won the international prize for sculpture. Among his best-known works is Piene del Viento (Wind Combs), a monumental abstract sculpture in steel that has been a landmark on the San Sebastian coastline since 1977.

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