Viewing Room

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14/25

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Baltazar LOBO

Torso al sol

1973
Pink marble from Portugal 
80 x 117 x 46 cm (31 ¹/₂ x 46 x 18 ¹/₈ inches)


Provenance:
Galería Theo, Madrid
Private collection, Malaga, 1991
 


Exhibition:
Galería Theo, Arte de Nuestro tiempo, Madrid, 1974.
Galería Theo, Formas en el espacio. Cárdenas, Chillida, Lobo, Penalba, Madrid, 1976. 


This work is registered in the Baltasar Lobo archives with Galeria Freites Caracas under number 19.015. It will be published in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné being prepared by Galeria Freites Caracas under number 7316.


Baltasar Lobo was born in 1910 into a modest family of peasants and artisans in a small Catalan village near Zamora. His grandfather was a stone-breaker and his father, a carpenter. When still very young, Lobo showed an aptitude for his father's artisanal work and artistic inclinations toward sculpture. At the age of twelve, he became an apprentice in the studio of the sculptor Ramón Núñez in Valladolid, where he made wooden sculptures of saints for processions. He continued his studies at the fine arts school in Madrid, which he considered a "cemetery" and quit at the end of three months. He then learned wood and stone carving through evening courses at the École des Arts et Métiers (the school of arts and crafts). When visiting The Exhibition of Paintings and Sculptures by Spanish Artists Living in Parisat the botanical garden in Madrid, he discovered the work of Picasso, Dali, Miró, and Gargallo.

In Madrid, he became avidly interested in the Iberian sculpture that he discovered in the archeological museum. All his life, he studied and sought the simplicity of these small primitive idols, so distant from the classical tradition.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out in July of 1936, Lobo and his wife Mercedes joined the ranks of the Republicans and the Catalan group "Tierra y libertad,"which shared his anarchistic leanings and his attachment to popular traditions. In 1939, Lobo had to flee Spain in the face of Franco's army, and a great many of his sculptures were destroyed in the bombings. In Paris, he met Picasso, who supported Spanish refugees; with his generous and friendly assistance, Lobo was able to get his papers. Fléchine, a Russian libertarian photographer who had seen Lobo's designs in Spanish anarchist publications, helped him to find a studio in Montparnasse, the one that Naum Gabo was leaving as he moved to London. After the horrors of the war, Paris offered Lobo an artistic feast, with its galleries, studios, and artists.

It was at this time that Lobo met and became friends with Henri Laurens, who showed his work through Christian Zervos at the gallery Cahiers d'Art. Even though they didn't speak the same language, Laurens asked Lobo to become his assistant, which allowed him to make at least a minimal living while he waited for times to look up. Though Laurens didn't act as Lobo's teacher, their instinctive personal and artistic affinity encouraged Lobo to return to the quest for a personal language that had been interrupted by the Spanish Civil War. For Lobo, as for Laurens, sculpture was "a principle of life"; they were born sculptors, and it was the physical intimacy with their materials that mattered the most. Both aspired to a simple life, completely devoted to their daily manual labor, and with the same care for detail, far from "Parisianism." Their wives also became close friends, and they developed warm friendships with Braque, Gris, Matisse, and Giacometti as well. The friendship between Lobo and Laurens lasted until the latter's death in 1954. 

After the war, Lobo's art reached its height. When staying at La Ciotat in 1945, where he encountered many Spanish exiles who were working in the shipyards, Lobo found new inspiration in observing mothers playing with their children on the beach. He did a number of works on the theme of maternity throughout his career. His figuration became simpler, echoing the spirit of works by Brancusi, Arp, and Moore. Until the end of his life, the theme of maternity remained central to his work.

And until the end of his life, after years of artistic maturation, Lobo found the same inspiration in sculpting this same nude in a disciplined and rigorous, almost obsessional, practice.

Lobo's greatest works include his 1948 Monument aux Espagnols morts pour la liberté(Monument for the Spanish Who Died for Liberty) in Annecy, and, above all, his 1953 bronze Maternity, commissioned by Villanueva for the city university of Caracas, a project that allowed him to develop close connections with the artistic world of Venezuela.