The Matter and Imagery of Air in Eduardo Chillida’s The Comb of the Wind XV




Air art, Art as experience, Contemporary art, Eduardo Chillida, Imagery of air, Metaphor of air, Public art, The Comb of the Wind


Eduardo Chillida’s The Comb of the Wind XV, embedded in natural rocks rising from the Cantabrian Ocean in 1977, expresses the artistic potential of air as a material, a metaphor, and as an art-maker. With this sculpture, Chillida opened up the possibility for air itself to show indefinite imageries. Although much has been written about this sculptural group from different perspectives, no study has been systematically undertaken to analyze it regarding the theme of the matter of air, which should be considered the core of the work of art. As Gaston Bachelard stated: ‘Chillida wished the iron [of The Comb of the Wind XV] to show aerial realities.’ Hence, this article seeks to study to what ‘aerial realities’ Chillida might refer, and the relationship between air and his artwork. First, this paper delves into the meanings and functions that air involves in Chillida’s artwork, as well as into how the sculptor embodied his poetic of air and allowed the spectator to perceive his sculptural installation with five senses. Also, the interaction between Chillida’s work and Luis Peña Ganchegui’s architectural installation La Plaza del Tenis is examined under the scope of Martin Heidegger’s notion of place. All these aspects are discussed to help readers realize why the air in natural motion is the foundation of The Comb of the Wind XV, and map the holistic imagery of air that Chillida intended to express.

Author Biography

Mei-Hsin Chen, University of Navarra

Mei-Hsin Chen earned her PhD degree in Art History from the University of Navarra (Spain). From 2001 to 2008 she belonged to the teaching staff of the School of Fine Arts of Taipei National University of the Arts (Taiwan) and the School of Design of Shih Chien University (Taiwan). She is currently Associate Professor of Image and Culture at the University of Navarra (Spain). Her main research line is focused on the concept of the “visual-ecological niche,” which addresses factors influencing in the creation, perception and reading of visual art, above all in relation with the Contemporary Art.


Aguinalde, P. (1977). El Peine del Viento. Deia, 14 June 1977.

Bachelard, G. (1997 [1956]). El derecho de soñar. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

Bazal, J. (2002). Entrevista con Luis Peña Ganchegui (sobre La Plaza del Tenis, San Sebastián). In: Á. Urrutia Núñez, ed., Arquitectura española contemporánea: documentos, escritos, testimonios inéditos, 1st ed. Madrid: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, pp.532-533.

Bazal, J., Chillida, E. and Peña Ganchegui, L. (1986). El Peine del Viento. Pamplona: Q Editions.

Beistegui, M. (2005). The new Heidegger. 1st ed. London: Continuum, pp. 125-154. (2017). Luis Peña Ganchegui. Un viaje a través de su obra. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 May 2017].

Calder, A. (c.1932). Mobile. [Sculpture] London: Tate Modern. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 July 2017].

Chillida, E. (1977). El Peine del Viento (in English: The Comb of the Wind XV). [Sculpture] San Sebastián. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 May 2017].

Chillida, E. (2005). Escritos. Madrid: La Fábrica.

Chillida, E. and Dupin, J. (2004). Aromas. Santiago de Compostela: Fundación Caixa Galicia.

Chillida, E. and Chillida, S. (2003). Elogio del horizonte. Barcelona: Ediciones Destino.

Chillida, E. (1994). Preguntas: discurso del académico honorario electo: leído en el acto de su recepción pública el día 20 de marzo de 1994. Madrid: Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando.

Chillida, E. (1996). How Profound is the Air. [Sculpture] Bilbao: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 May 2017].

Chillida, E., Huici, F. and Fernández León, J. (1990). Elogio del horizonte. Oviedo, España: Progreso Editorial.

Connor, S. (2004). On The Air. [online] Steven Connor. Available at: [Accessed 16 September 2016].

Connor, S. (2007). Next to nothing: The Arts of Air. [pdf] Available at: [Accessed 16 September 2016].

Crow, K. (2015). Spanish Sculptor Eduardo Chillida Gets a Second Chance. The Wall Street Journal, [online] 26 October 2015. Available at: [Accessed 17 June 2016].

De Barañano Letamendía, K. (1992). Chillida - Heidegger - Husserl: el concepto de espacio en la filosofía y la plástica del siglo XX. Lejona: Universidad del País Vasco.

De Barañano Letamendía, K. (1998). Chillida: aroma-pendamientos. Hernani: Chillida-Leku, D.L.

De Barañano Letamendía, K. (2008). Peine del Viento. Arte y Naturaleza en Chillida. In: Elósegui, M. ed., El Peine del Viento de Chillida en San Sebastián, Bilbao: Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos del País Vasco, pp. 16-17.

De Góngora y Argote, L. and Dent-Young, J. (2007[1613]). Selected Poems

of Luis De Góngora: A Bilingual Edition, Chicago: University of Chicago


Duchamp, M. (1919). 50 cc of Paris Air. [Ready-made] Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 June 2016].

Elósegui Itxaso, M. (2008). El Peine del Viento de Chillida en San Sebastián. Bilbao: Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos del País Vasco.

Euskal Telebista – ETB 2. (2012). Peine del Viento, la realización de un sueño, 19 August 2012. [video] Available at: [Accessed 19 June 2016].

Explora Films, Marmoka Films and TVE. (2013). Chillida, The Depth of Air. [video] Available at: [Accessed 19 June 2016]. (2017). Luis Peña Ganchegui. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 May 2017].

Guasch, A. (1985). Arte e ideología en el País Vasco, 1940-1980. Madrid, España: Akal.

Guthrie, W. (1962). The Earlier Presocratics and Pythagoreans. In: A History of Greek Philosophy, volume 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Heidegger, M. (2002 [1950]). The Origin of the Work of Art. In: Young, J., and Haynes, K., ed., Off the Beaten Track, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-56.

Irigary, L. (1999). The forgetting of air in Martin Heidegger, trans. M. B. Mader, 1st ed. London: The Athlone.

Iturbi, J. (1967). Chillida y el Peine del Viento. Unidad diario de la tarde, 18 February 1967, p.14

Martínez Aguinagalde, F. (1998). Palabra de Chillida. Lejona: Universidad del País Vasco.

Martínez, S. (2001). Eduardo Chillida: El arte está ligado a lo que todavía no se crea. [online] Bibloteca Babab. Available at: [Accessed 31 December 2016].

Messer, T. (1990 [1989]). Epílogo. In: Chillida, E., Huici, F. and Fernández León, J., ed., Elogio del horizonte. Oviedo: Progreso Editorial, pp. 129-130.

Mitchell, A. (2010). Heidegger Among the Sculptors. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, pp. 66-90.

Norberg-Schulz, C. (1980). Genius loci. New York: Rizzoli.

Parson-Lord, E. (2014). "Different Kinds of Air, A Plant's Diary", Proximity Festival, 2014. [video] Vimeo. Available at: [Accessed 18 May 2017].

RTVE. (2012 [2009]). La mitad invisible - El peine del viento de Eduardo Chillida. [video] Available at: [Accessed 16 June 2016].

RTVE. (2016). Imprescindibles - Lo profundo es el aire (Chillida). [video] Available at: [Accessed 11 October 2016].

Sangalli Uggeri, M. (2013). La Plaza del Tenis: un lugar autobiográfico. ZARCH: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Architecture and Urbanism, (1), pp. 116-127.

Smithson, R. (1996[1973]). A Provisional Theory of Non-Sites. In: Flam, J. and Smithson, R., ed., Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 364. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 June 2016].

Todorov, T. (2006). Wind Dance | Sculpture by Todor Todorov. [online] Available at:[Accessed 18 May 2017].

Treinta-Hermanos Aguas. (2008). Homenaje al 30 Aniversario del Peine del Viento de Eduardo Chillida. [video] Available at: [Accessed 16 June 2016].

Ugarte, L. (1995). Chillida, dudas y preguntas. Donostia: Erein.




How to Cite

Chen, M.-H. (2017). The Matter and Imagery of Air in Eduardo Chillida’s The Comb of the Wind XV. Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal, 2(2), 40–59.