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Larrea Gayarre, Vicente

An artist descended from a long line of Biscay sculptors, the son of José Larrea Echániz, a sculptor and son of the Navarre-born Pilar Gayarre Galbete. For over half a century, José Larrea produced many public and religious sculptures which can still be seen in Biscay and in other neighbouring locations. In Navarre, he created the Sagrado Corazón de Sangüesa, the image of San Ignacio de Loyola, in the Jesuitas of Pamplona School and the image of Pio XII in a private garden in Aranzadi, His father inherited his grandfather’s profession: Vicente Larrea Aldama, the first sculptor in the family to open a workshop that became a benchmark in Bilbao. Vicente Larrea was born in 1934 in Bilbao. He completed his higher education in the Jesuitas school in Indautxu and later went on to study Technical Engineering for Mines and Ironworks in Bilbao, graduating in 1957. His artistic education began in the family-run workshop, led by his father José, and in the School of Fine Arts of Achuri. He later continued his studies in France in the workshop of the sculptor Raymond Dubois in Solesmes. In the sixties he distanced himself from the family workshop, in the determined search for a more contemporary style of sculpture. This break affected his own family workshop, which Vicente Larrea dissolved in 1964. He was also a member of the artistic group, Emen. The Emen group was created in Biscay, emerging from the Gaur group in Guipuzcoa, the Orain group in Alava, the Danok group in Navarre, with the desire to bring together artists that represented the different trends within the designated Basque School, in the sixties. In 1966 he participated in the exhibition held in collaboration with the Gaur and Emen groups in the Museum of Fine Arts in Bilbao. All sculpture created in this period, excluding public sculpture, featured in the sculptor’s first individual exhibition in the Galería Grises in Bilbao (1968).

In his next individual exhibition in the Galería Illescas in 1970, he unveiled a work that stood out for its geometric structures and organic elements. He also worked in art teaching, in his position as Sculpture Professor in the Fine Arts Faculty in Bilbao, though he shortly left this phase of his career following a disagreement concerning teaching methods. He participated in the 1972 International Art Meetings in Pamplona. In 1973 Larrea held his first retrospective exhibitions in the Sala Municipales de Cultura in Durango. The following year he exhibited his work in the prestigious Galería Kreisler-2 in Madrid, to glowing reviews. A new retrospective exhibition was held in the Pamplona Citadel in 1977. From this point on, Vicente Larrea’s sculpture gained popularity in the Basque Country, with his bronze-smelted medium-sized works and other large, public works smelted in iron. In 1983, accompanied by Basterretxea and Mendiburu, he took several of his works to the International Art Fair in Chicago, following invitation from the Basque Government. For over 50 years he has proven himself a master of this profession, one which he continues to undertake.



Vicente Larrea, 1967-1977, Catálogo de la exposición en los Pabellones de Arte de la Ciudadela, Pamplona, CAMP, Noviembre 1977.BARAÑANO, K. de., Vicente Larrea, Vitoria, Gobierno Vasco, 2005.