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Eduardo Chillida

San Juan de la Cruz


Year: 2007


Philosophy, spirituality and mysticism were three elements that were deeply-rooted in Chillida’s thinking, and pervaded the artist’s work. Thus we should not be surprised to discover that Cántico Espiritual by San Juan de la Cruz was one of his bedside books. 

In this work, Artika, publishing in conjunction with the Chillida-Leku Museum, brings together two of the Basque artist’s great passions: the mystical poems of San Juan de la Cruz, and art. 

A unique masterpiece that harmoniously combines the poems of San Juan’s with reproductions of 32 of Chillida’s drawings and engravings, accompanied by 16 handwritten, intimate and personal quotations about art and spirituality, conceived by the artist himself.

The book’s binding includes oxidised iron covers that exude the magical dark light of the Atlantic, so characteristic of the famous sculptor’s creations. A homage to the artist who managed to tame metal. 

It comes together with a Study Book, a little treasure in itself, in which leading specialists open the reader’s eyes to this mystical poetic work from the 16th century and the graphic work of the 20th century artist. 

The volumes are presented in a box-sculpture that manifests all the strength, durability and colour that we find in Chillida’s work, and also features details alluding to his symbology. 

An emotional journey narrated by two great figures, in a limited edition of 998 numbered copies.

The production process

Every one of the iron plates undergoes a process of oxidisation and varnishing, thus making each volume completely unique.

The covers of the book, made from iron 1.5 mm thick, are polished and smoothed, to make the subsequent binding process easier.

After the first engraving has been made on the cover, the pantograph reproduces the names of the artists, under the watchful eye of the engraver.

The location of the cross (Chillida’s original design) is marked on the plate; the cross is then punched through the entire volume to the back cover.

The plates become the covers of the book. They are assembled with rubber, which fulfils the function of the spine of the book.

Made of wood and bound with black cotton cloth, the box’s base contains two inserts that hold the books vertically.

The upper part, made from cardboard and white cotton cloth, has protective bands inside it which hold the books securely.

As the box is handmade by craftsmen, final adjustments can be made to it so as to ensure that the two books are protected.

The graphics are printed in five colours. Thanks to the stochastic screenprinting technique, the originals are reproduced faithfully.

The prints are fixed by hand onto 160g paper support using three drops of glue.

Chillida’s selected quotations are printed directly in two colours on special translucent paper.

Technical specifications

  • Box completely hand-made: base made of wood and the cover of 4 mm poster board
  • Lined with high quality cotton cloth – black for the base and white for the cover
  • Embossed in two colours
  • Two inserts in the base that hold the two books vertically
  • Inner protection bands to ensure stability if the two volumes
  • Size: 39’5 x 48’5 x 18’2 cm
  • Total weight of the piece: 16.5 kg
    San Juan de la Cruz
  • Number of pages: 356
  • 32 facsimile reproductions made by Eduardo Chillida as a homage to the poet; presented in the chronological order in which they were created, plus 16 quotations, hand-written by Chillida
  • Old Mill Avorio paper by Fedrigoni (130 g) for the texts by San Juan de la Cruz
  • Old Mill Bianco paper by Fedrigoni (100 g) for the 32 original-size plates by Chillida
  • Brownish paper (160 g) as support for the hand-glued plates
  • Pergamenata folden Star K paper (110 g) for the 16 texts selected by Eduardo Chillida
  • Covers of oxidised iron (1.5 mm), protected with varnish, and with Chillida’s cross die-cut
  • Black rubber spine
  • Printed in seven colours
  • Bound and sewn by hand
  • Pages have been die-cut with Chillida’s cross
  • Size: 30 x 39 cm
    Study Book
  • Number of pages: 144
  • Printed in four colours
  • Semi-matt coated paper, 135 g
  • Binding: embossed matt black Fibermark
  • Number of photographs: 68
  • Size: 30 x 30 cm