Eduardo Chillida was born on 10 January 1924 in San Sebastián.
In 1943, he went to Madrid to begin architectural studies, although in 1947 he decided to give up his degree to take up drawing at the Círculo de Bellas Artes. The following year he went to Paris, where he began to produce sculptures, exhibiting one of his works in the Salón de Mayo. In 1951, one year after his marriage to Pilar Belzunce, he moved to the town of Hernani where he discovered iron and completed his first work using this medium: Ilarik.
His first individual exhibition took place three years later in Madrid, in the Clan Gallery, and the same year he received his first public commission for the doors of the Basilicaof Aranzazu. In 1958 he received the International Grand Prize for Sculpture at the 29th Venice Biennale, a fore-runner to winning almost all of the prizes in existence during his lifetime, including the 1960 Kandinsky Prize, the 1966 Wilhelm Lehmbruck Prize, Germany’s Kaissering Award in 1985, the Prince of Asturias Award in 1987 and the Imperial Prize of Japan in 1991.
His work can be found in more than 20 museums across the world, and exhibitions have been held in several cities including Berlin, London and New York. Public works were an important part of his artistic career, with more than 40 sculptures standing in different places around the world. In 1972 he created Lugar de Encuentros III, today located on Madrid’s Paseo de la Castellana, the Campo Espacio de Paz in Lund, Sweden, and Elogio de la Arquitectura II in Palma de Mallorca. In 1973 his Estela a Pablo Neruda was erected in Tehran. It was in 1976 that the Comb of the Wind XV was installed in San Sebastián.
This was followed, during the 1980s, by works including Gure Aitaren Etxea in Guernica in 1984, La Casa de Goethe in Frankfurt in 1986, Elogio del Agua in Barcelona in 1987 and De Música in Dallas in 1989. In 1990, Elogio del Horizonte was installed in Gijón, looking out to the sea, towards the unknown, and two years later the sculpture Monumento a la Tolerancia was inaugurated on the Muelle de la Sal in Seville. The year 2000 saw the opening of the Chillida-Leku Museum, currently home to a large body of his work, which constantly engages with the natural environment.
Eduardo Chillida died on 19 August 2002 in San Sebastián, without living to see the completion of his great dream, the Tindaya Project, a public monument in the heart of the mountains.