Eduardo Chillida, Tolerance Through Dialogue, 1992, 51°96’16.7“N, 7°62’85.6“E
The two sculptures Monumento a la Tolerancia (1985) and Homenaje a Luca Pacioli (1986) by the Spanish artist Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002), on display at Servatiikirchplatz during the Skulptur Projekte Münster 1987, provided the impetus for the sculpture Tolerance Through Dialogue, which Chillida realized in 1993 on the occasion of Münster’s city anniversary. The two-part work was conceived by the artist specifically for the historical installation site and is thus not only closely linked to the location, but likewise to Münster’s history as the city of the Peace of Westphalia.
For the realization of the work, the inner courtyard of the town hall was redesigned according to the artist’s ideas and the plans of architect Joaquín Montero Basqueseaux. One of the most fundamental changes was the lowering of the courtyard to the level of the Prinzipalmarkt. In order to compensate for the difference in height on the sides of the square facing Stadthaus 1, a set of steps was built that also serves to delimit the inner area. This redesigning of the site was essential to the sculptor, as it allowed him create a suitable spatial connection between his sculpture and the Peace Hall in the historic town hall. The latter owes its name to the invocation of the Spanish-Dutch Peace in 1648 as part of the peace negotiations that ended the both the Thirty Years’ War and the Eighty Years’ War of Dutch Independence.
Chillida’s site-specific work consists of two L-shaped elements that face each other and evoke the shape of benches. The sculpture is made of Corten steel, with surfaces bearing traces of handicraft alongside weather-related corrosion. By forming the material based on varying geometrically designed recesses, alternating between angular and rounded, the sculptor plays with the seemingly mutually exclusive contrasts of steely solidity and airy permeability. The openings of the two objects are similar but not identical and can be perceived differently depending on the point of view. Chillida makes use of the shape-changing effect created by the natural incidence of light on these openings, incorporating them into his sculptural work—an aspect characteristic of his steel sculptures. In addition, the two parts of the sculpture are slightly elevated by invisible plinths, by means of which Chillida has given them a certain lightness, negating the weight of the steel.
The negotiations held in Münster and Osnabrück that had led to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 resonated both in the form—the juxtapositioning of positions and permeability of material—and in the title of the sculpture. Tolerance Through Dialogue describes negotiation at eye level as a fundamental principle of diplomacy, which contrasted with the then usual defeat through victory and submission. Precisely this is what the artist has picked up on and translated into an abstract form. Sabine Maria Schmidt writes about the sculptor’s formal language: “Chillida uses abstract forms which cannot express historical themes within any degree of sophistication but which do offer complex approaches to recognition, identification and interpretation.” 1 Though Eduardo Chillida, with his sculpture in Münster and the accompanying modification of the inner courtyard, has not created a concise representation of a particular historical event, he has taken it as a starting point for his sculptural work and designed a kind of forum that invites people to take a seat and enter into conversation with one another.
Nazaret Díaz Acosta
After the Skulptur Projekte, the City of Münster was interested in purchasing the work Monumento a la Tolerancia. However, the artist declined the offer, as the work had originally been planned for Seville where it was finally installed in 1992. Instead, Chillida agreed to design a new work for Münster.
Sabine Maria Schmidt, “Eduardo Chillidas Tolerancia of 1992.Architectural Sculpture as a Monument of Ideas,” in: Florian Matzner (ed.): Public Art. Kunst im öffentlichen Raum, (Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2001), 343–353, 352.
Permanent Loan of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia