Julio Gonzalez was bron in Barcelon on September 21, 1876, As a child, he worked and apprenticed in his father’s foundry, learning to forge and weld metals. When his father died in 1896, Gonzalez decided to sell the family business and move to Paris with his brother and sisters. Upon Arrival, Gonzalex planned on becoming a painter, but was having difficulty getting the salons to accept his work. This lack of success, combined with the death of his brother Joan in 1908, caused Gonzalez to sugger a nervous breakdown. Taking the advice of his friend, Paco Durrio, Gonzalez turned to working with metals, creating reliefs and small sculptures in order to relieve his depression.
Even though Gonzalez began working with metal, he did not abandon his interest in painting. He continued to submit paintings, sculpture and jewelry to the salons, eventually exhibiting at the Salon d’Automne and Salon de la Société in 1909. A decade later, Gonzalez was given solo shows at Galerie Povlolovsky, Paris (1922) and Galerie de Caméléon, Paris (1923.)
It was only at the end of the twenties that Gonzalez began to focus mostly on sculpture. This coincided with a position he took in Brancusi’s studio from 1925-6. Following this position, Picasso asked Gonzalez to work with him on several metal sculptures. Gonzalez taught Picasso the technique of welding, spending three years on projects with his fellow artist. This experience changed Gonzalez’s artistic focus by influencing him to use the techniques he had devised with Picasso in order to create new types of sculptures that would have a more abstract, cubist tone. These sculptures were works composed by assembling parts to create a whole, revealing the links that held the form together.
The thirties was an interesting time for Gonzalez, filled with both fortune and grief. In 1934, Gonzalez exhibited six of his sculptures at Kunthaus Zurich in a group exhibition that included Jean Arp, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, and Joan Miró. Three years later he married Marie-Thérése Roux, who had been his life long companion. Politically, however, the world was awry, with both the Spanish Civil War and World War II brewing. Gonzalez suffered emotional difficulties during this period, which is revealed in his art. Departing from abstract forms, Gonzalez created more figurative drawings and sculptures that expressed torture and anguish. He aimed at evoking the human suffering that was occuring at that time. After the German occupation of France, Gonzalez and his wife left the country, only returning to Arceuil a year later.
Julio Gonzalez on March 27, 1942 at his home in Arcueil.