c1960 Stoneware Sculpture of Virgin Mary by Jorge Oteiza


A fine c1960 large stoneware pottery sculpture ‘Virgin Mary’ (La Virgen) by the renowned Spanish Basque Artist Jorge Oteiza Enbil (1908 – 2003).

The figure is typical of his semi-figurative style, with elements of cubism. It shows a primitive representation of a woman. The sculpture is hollow, with the shroud making up the shape and substance of the Virgin. Despite the simplicity of the piece, Mary is instantly recognisable. The sculpture is made of a solid piece of sand coloured stoneware pottery, with a rough texture. She stands on a white square marble base. Other examples of his work use the same medium and the Virgin is a repeating subject.

The sculpture was bought by a Basque collector directly from Jorge Oteiza, during the early 1960s, together with another piece we are also selling. Unfortunately, the collector’s somewhat chaotic state of affairs, meant that when he died, the family could not find the original bill of purchase, assuming there had ever been one. We are happy with its authenticity and are happy to guarantee it as such.

Jorge Oteiza Enbil was a sculptor, painter, designer and writer, renowned for being one of the main theorists on Basque modern art. Jorge Oteiza was born in Orio (Guipuzcoa). He moved to South America in 1935, just before the Spanish Civil War, and stayed there for 14 years. In 1963 he published ‘Quosque Tandem!’, an essay about the aesthetics inherent to the Basque soul, based on Basque prehistoric art and the Basque people's anthropological roots. In 1957, Oteiza was awarded the Grand Prize for sculpture at the São Paulo Biennial; in 1985 he won the Gold Medal for Fine Arts (Medalla de Oro al Merito en las Bellas Artes), awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Culture; and in 1996 he received the Pevsner Prize, Paris.

His work has been installed in numerous international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennial (1976, 1988) and Qu’est-ce que la sculpture moderne? (1986) at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. In 1960, Galería Neblí, Madrid, hosted his final exhibition, issuing a catalogue that explained his reasons for abandoning sculpture. Oteiza died on April 9, 2003, in San Sebastian, Spain. Following his will, a month after his death a museum dedicated to his career was opened in Alzuza, Navarra, in the place where he had lived since 1975. The Oteiza Museum is a monographic exhibition space housing the personal collection of Jorge Oteiza, which includes 1,690 sculptures, 2,000 experimental pieces from the artist’s Chalk Laboratory, and an extensive collection of drawings and collages.

Size: 14 x 14.5 x 37 cm (5 ½ x 5 ¾ x 14 ½ inches)
Weight: 3286 g