Adiós Martin Chirino: Spain’s renowned sculptor dies aged 94

Martin Chirino, considered one of the most important Spanish sculptors of the past decades, died on Monday, aged 94, his foundation said.

Adiós Martin Chirino: Spain's renowned sculptor dies aged 94
Photo: Israel L. Murillo / @culturagob

A member of the El Paso group, a collective of painters and sculptors created in 1957 that was seen as instrumental in reviving Spanish art after the devastating civil war, Chirino was known for making abstract forms out of iron.

“We regret to tell you that our dear founder, Mr. Martin Chirino, left us today,” the Martin Chirino Foundation said on Twitter.   

“We are left without one of our great geniuses and an extraordinary person.”   

Born in 1925 in Gran Canaria, one of the Canary Islands, Chirino's father worked in shipyards, which gave him an early passion for iron crafts and wood carvings.

Artwork from the colletion at the Martin Chirino Foundation in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. 

A multiple-award winner, his works — often made of coils, spirals or curves — are on display in museums like New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Madrid's Reina Sofia.

Tributes have poured in for the sculptor, including from Spain's Ministry of Culture and the Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez.


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Paul Gauguin’s ‘Mata Mua’ returns to Spain

One of French painter Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings, "Mata Mua", will return to a Madrid museum on Monday following an agreement between the Spanish government and its owner, who took it out of the country.

mata mua madrid
Toward the end of his life, Gauguin spent ten years in French Polynesia, where he completed some of his most famous artwork Painting: Paul Gaugin

The artwork had been on display for two decades at Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza museum but in 2020 when the institution closed because of the pandemic, the painting’s owner Carmen Thyssen moved it to Andorra where she currently lives.

Her decision to take “Mata Mua” to the microstate sandwiched between Spain and France raised fears she would remove other works from her collection which are on display at the museum.

“It is expected that the painting will arrive today,” a spokeswoman for the museum told AFP.


In 1989, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza bought Mata Mua at the Sotheby’s auction in New York. Painting: Paul Gauguin

The artwork will go back on display to the public “a few days after” Thyssen signs a new agreement with the Spanish state for the lease of her collection, she added. The deal is expected to be signed on Wednesday.

Painted in 1892 in vivid, flat colours, “Mata Mua” depicts two women, one playing the flute and the other listening, set against a lush Tahitian landscape.

It is one of the stars of Thyssen’s collection of several hundred paintings which are on show at the museum, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

Her collection had initially been displayed at the Madrid museum as part of a free loan agreement signed in February 2002 that was subsequently extended.

But in August 2021 Spain’s culture ministry announced it had reached an agreement with Thyssen to rent the collection from her for 15 years for €97.5 million ($111.5 million), with “preferential acquisition rights on all or part” of the works. The collection includes a Degas, a Hopper and a Monet.

Aside from housing her collection of works, the museum displays the collection of her late husband, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Swiss heir to a powerful industrial lineage who died in Spain in 2002.

The Spanish state bought his collection in 1993 from $350 million, according to the museum.