Médium: Fer, forgé, soudé

Dimensions: 25 x 38 x 18 cm

« Personnage allongée II » is a forged and welded iron sculpture executed by Julio González in 1936.

A reclining female figure is the point of departure for this work.  The body has been abstracted, its different parts translated into a series of simplified signs typical of González’s artistic vocabulary.  The curved planes on the left represent the figure’s legs, which join an inversed L-shaped motif, representing the figure’s hips.  Continuing to the right along the horizontal base, another L-shaped perpendicular motif, formed of a rectangular plane and a series of iron rods positioned horizontally and vertically at right angles, represents the figure’s shoulders, arm and raised, outstretched hand.  This articulation is clearly visible in a preparatory drawing for the work, entitled “Reclining Figure with a Large Hand” (fig. 2), housed at the Tate Modern thanks to a donation by Roberta González.

These two inversed L-shaped motifs counterbalance one another, and outline a central cube at the figure’s core, filled in by empty space, as per González’s artistic philosophy.  At the right-hand extremity, the figure’s upturned head has been reduced to a T-shaped form representing the forehead/eyes and the nose, crowned by iron rods that suggest the figure’s hair.  The curve of the neck recalls that of the legs on the other side.

The reclining female figure is a constant theme in González’s work, and among the first he depicts when he begins experimenting with small scale sculpture around 1914.  However, far from the naturalistic nudes he creates around 1914, “Reclining figure II” (1936) testifies to González’s stylistic evolution over the course of his career in Paris.  Here, he has arrived at the threshold of abstraction, without entirely abandoning observed reality.

This work’s force resides in the juxtaposition of opposing formal elements—horizontal vs. vertical, planes vs. lines, solid vs. empty, rounded curves vs. pointy angles.  These contrasts echo the paradox at the heart of the subject.  Indeed, rather than representing a docile, submissive reclining figure, in keeping with tradition, González’s figure assertively raises her large hand, which overshadows her recumbent body.  “Reclining figure II” is an image of resilient vitality.