Gonzalez was spanish and grew up in a family of Catalan artist metalworkers so he learned metal working from an early age. He moved to Paris and worked for and was influenced by Picasso.. he only got into his more famous way of working after he had already turned fifty.. but he pioneered the idea of drawing in space, and using the space as a discrete entity. He did masses of line drawings describing his sculptures. I find his work enigmatic and compelling. Although some of it appears abstract actually Gonzalez said he NEVER did any abstract work.. The idea that it is not necessary to define every surface is intrigueing and liberating.
The entry below is from the Tate website… the Tate has a collection of 56 of his works.. I must find them next time I go. “This sculpture called “Maternity” is one of González’s most striking sculptures from the mid-1930s. The use of welded steel rods lends an unprecedented openness to the structure and epitomises his idea of ‘drawing in space’. Like much of González’s work, Maternity appears to be abstract while retaining figurative references. The structure builds from the horizontal circle, through the stepped form, to the upper loop projected into space. This loop suggests a head with sprouts of hair, and a ring and plate indicate breasts.”
I have learned more recently of an American sculptor called David Smith, some of whose work reminds me a lot of Gonzalez, in that he is using lines to draw in space and create wonderful pictures.. This sculpture made in 1951 is called Australia and kept at MoMA.. their notes about it are: “I do not recognize the limits where painting ends and sculpture begins.” So said Smith, who, in making Australia, used thin rods and plates of steel—simultaneously delicate and strong—to paint in space. Like a painting, Australia must be seen frontally if its form is to be grasped. It has been identified as an abstraction of a kangaroo, and its lines have that animal’s leaping vitality. Though he began his career as a painter, Smith was inspired to make welded metal sculptures in 1930 when he saw those made by Pablo Picasso and Julio González.