Oso polar (Polar Bear)

Francisco Pérez Mateo

Barcelona, Spain, 1903 - Madrid, Spain, 1936
  • Date: 
  • Material: 
    Colmenar stone
  • Technique: 
    Direct carving
  • Descriptive technique: 
    Work exhibited in the Spanish Republic's Pavilion at the Paris International Exposition of 1937
  • Dimensions: 
    57 x 83 x 46 cm
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
  • Observations: 
    Entry date: 1988 (from the redistribution of the Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo [MEAC] collection)
  • Register number: 

The sculptor and advocate of direct stone carving Francisco Pérez Mateo was a major artist during the Second Republic, dedicating himself to re-inventing the concepts of realism. Oso polar (Polar Bear, 1931) was one of the works shown at the Spanish Pavilion of the International Exposition in Paris in 1937, alongside works including Pablo Picasso’s Guernica and Alexander Calder’s Mercury Fountain. The reasons for its inclusion were firstly that it coincided with an official interest in exhibiting the various artistic movements (Abstract and Realism; tradition and the avant-garde) under the protection of the Republic, and secondly that it was an international homage to the artist, one of the first casualties on the Republican lines at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. Pérez Mateo gave new life to realism following a line of authenticity and restraint, as can be seen in this piece, a clear example of ordered recreation of appearance. Oso polar was accepted into Madrid’s Museum of Modern Art in 1931, having won an award that year at the Fine Arts Circle’s National Competition, and was placed outside the Pavilion building, next to the same artist’s Bañista (Bather), and Montserrat by Julio González. So different lines of realism flowed together through the group, at a time of war and social upheaval.

Carmen Fernández Aparicio

Francisco Pérez Mateo
Artworks in the Collection