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Currently shown
Julio González

Cactus Man No. 1

Artist

Julio González
Barcelona 1876 – Arcueil, France, 1942

Title

Cactus Man No. 1

Date

1939-1940

Materials

Bronze, 0/3

Dimensions

78 x 27 x 20 cm

Founder

Cast C. Valsuani, Paris

Credits

Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1962.1333

Collection

Western Art

Cactus Man, by the famous sculptor Julio González, a friend of Picasso, refers explicitly to nail fetishes. González, who was associated with Cubism and Surrealism, was the founder of modern iron sculpture. In August 1939, at the end of the Spanish Civil War, this fervent Republican witnessed the establishment of Franco’s regime in his native Catalonia, where much fighting and bloodshed had occurred during the struggle. After drawing many sketches, González completed Cactus Man, to which he would later add a Madame Cactus. This hybrid sculpture – half plant, half human – shows humanity anguished and suffering, but also rooted and resistant, like the tormented nail-studded statues of the Congo in earlier times. Although its nail-spiked form is similar to that of nkondi figures, the contexts of its creation and thus its meaning are decidedly different.

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