Caja metafísica por conjunción de dos triedros, 1959

Metaphysical Box through the Conjuction of Two Trihedrons, 1959

Influenced by Mondrian, Malevich and, above all, Cezanne, in the mid-fifties Jorge Oteiza began to investigate the square and the cube as essential units. In his stone, iron and steel sculptures he put forward a concept of closed volumes seen as metaphysical presences, rather than the absence of solid mass. The point was to capture the essence of the void, its capacity for generating both spiritual and physical energy.

The fifties were Oteiza’s most fertile period as a sculptor, although in parallel to his sculptural production, he also developed a theoretical body of work of great importance and complexity. Besides his significant studies on the cultural and artistic roots of the Basque country, Oteiza expressed his main aesthetic concerns and his ideological commitment in numerous texts and, in 1959, he decided to abandon sculpture altogether to devote himself entirely to art theory and the study of Basque cultural identity. From then on, his work included collaborations in fields as diverse as architecture, poetry and cinema.

Like Desocupación no cúbica del espacio (Non-cubic emptying of space), Oteiza’s Caja metafísica por conjunción de dos triedros (Metaphysical box by the conjunction of two trihedra) is also part of the series dedicated to Construcciones vacías (Empty constructions) and Cajas metafísicas (Metaphysical boxes). It is based on complex combinations of stepped planes and internal and external spatial volumes. Despite its affinity with Neo-Plasticist and Suprematist practices, the procedures used in this sculpture follow a constant trend in the artist’s trajectory: his determination to preserve the vital content of his works in the face of pure logistics. In opposition to the analytic rigidity of mathematics, the Basque sculptor favours biology and physics, two sciences anchored in reality.

creation of voids in empty spaces
in sculpture as experimental object
spatial emptying of the cube
of the sphere
and the cylinder
while embracing Cézanne
emptying of the polyhedron
emptying of the city
in architecture and urbanism empty the city
to see the sky
in the cinema concavity and holes
in sports places outside the world
in football
displace defences
open holes
to escape.

Jorge Oteiza, n/d

Technical details

Original title:
Caja metafísica por conjunción de dos triedros
Registration number:
Oteiza, Jorge
Date created:
Date acquired:
On display
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Copper plating steel and marble
Meier Building, Level 1, Rooms 3 and 4
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Gift of Fundación Bertrán
© Pilar Oteiza, A+V Agencia de Creadores Visuales
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Caja metafísica por conjunción de dos triedros by Jorge Oteiza, 1959
I don’t think about art when I’m working. I try to think about life
Jean-Michel Basquiat