One of the constant elements in Oteiza’s aesthetic thinking was a concern for construction in the city and the relationship between artistic experimentation and architecture. Emma López Bahut’s book Jorge Oteiza y lo arquitectónico. De la estatua-masa al espacio urbano (1948-60) examines the sculptor’s connections with this discipline, analysing the various projects in which he participated and his theoretical writings from this period. The book provides an insight into Oteiza’s artistic process in the 1950s, connecting all possible scales (sculpture, architecture, city and landscape) from the perspective of the spatial.
It is published by the Museo Oteiza and the Universidade da Coruña, in collaboration with the Navarre Delegation of the Official Basque and Navarrese School of Architects (COAVN) and the Town Council of Egüés, and offers the most complete analysis to date of Oteiza’s spatial and architectural concerns during this period.
A key point in the book are the start of Oteiza’s reflection on the city, from sculpture as “metaphysical furniture” to the city viewed as the urban space. Jorge Oteiza’s sculpture and the notion of the city conceived from a spatial perspective share common propositions and have the same goal in terms of the creation of spaces. With this new analysis, which combines sculpture, architecture and the city, the author seeks to recover the ideas of the artist, his work process and his experimentation, as well as revealing the influence and correspondence of ideas between Oteiza and the architectural world of the moment.
The area of research covered by this monograph, with a foreword by Miguel Ángel Alonso del Val, architect and director of the School of Architecture of the University of Navarre, focuses on the experimental process that Oteiza developed after his return to Bilbao following his time in the Americas, in 1948 and up to the abandonment of his sculptural research in 1960. The author offers a cross-cutting interpretation of Oteiza’s relationship with the architectural and the discovery of his thinking on the city, avoiding the constraints of a canonically historiographical vision, to focus on processes and connections that determine the exchange of ideas between Oteiza and architecture.
During this period, Oteiza did not limit himself to simply observing from the position of the sculptural, but became involved as an active creator. In that sense, the publication shows how the development of Oteiza’s ideas is linked to the architectural, viewed as everything related to the world of the conception of architecture, not only the built. It also examines the relations and influences between Oteiza and the world of architectural thought, identifying the sources that constitute the sculptor’s referential world. In parallel, the publication analyses the development of his sculptural process with regard to issues related to the praxis of architecture and his spatial thinking, through an analysis of the architecture books, specialist journals and photographs that Oteiza used and consulted and his visits to different buildings. This review also includes articles published by the sculptor in architecture journals and his writings on architectural themes, his correspondence with the architects with whom he collaborated, articles by architects on his thinking and the work he carried out during his research period. The book investigates these domains of Oteiza’s aesthetic thinking and the artistic praxis, basing itself directly on the artist’s personal archive as preserved in the Oteiza Museum.
Emma López Bahut (b. Burgos, 1974) received her PhD in 2013 in architecture from the Higher Technical School of Architecture of the University of Coruña, where she has been lecturing in architectural projects since 2009. In 2004 she received an MDA in Architectural Design from the University of Navarre and in 2002 a master’s degree in architecture from the Higher Technical School of Architecture of Madrid. She was awarded research grants by the Fundación Museo Jorge Oteiza between 2005 and 2007 and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs MAE-AECID in 2008, which he has used to develop the research behind this book. She has also published De la escultura a la ciudad. Monumento a Batlle en Montevideo. Oteiza y Puig, 1958-60 (2007) and collaborated with Francisco Calvo Serraller on the critical publication of Oteiza’s book Oteiza Ejercicios espirituales en un túnel (2011), both published by the Museo Oteiza.