Miguel Berrocal & his Sculptures.

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The work of Miguel Berrocal has been well known and greatly appreciated in the Art World for many years. However many of the world's puzzle enthusiasts seem to know very little about him and his works. Most know that he has produced the "Ultimate" in 3D puzzles, a few think that they are expensive but they tend to be unaware of the amazing technical achievements of some of the sculptures. This brief page will hopefully encourage the curious to delve a little deeper; it inevitably leaves out 99.99 percent of a very productive life.

In a period when Art and Science often tended to diverge Berrocal is an exception. He was born in Villanueva de Algaidas (Malaga) in 1933, the son of a doctor. His studies in Madrid at the Faculty of Exact Sciences, Academy of Fine Art of San Fernando, the School of Graphic Art, gave him a unique grounding in Mathematical and Technical matters as well as Art. In the 1950s he held his first exhibition of paintings, met Picasso, and started to produce his first component sculptures. In the 1962 he embarked on his experiments of multiple editions which makes it possible to bring original Works of Art to a far wider audience than previously possible by producing 200 examples of "Maria de la O". This was cast in bronze and had 7 pieces. It won the prize for sculpture at the Paris Biennial and was later acquired by the New York Museum of Modern Art.

Designed for Expo '92 in Sevile in honour of the Barcelona Olympics, his "Citus - Altius - Fortius" would have been immobile in traditional materials, but built in a combination of modern materials including Carbon Fiber & Kelvar it weighs only a few hundred kilograms. Controlled by complex mechanisms concealed in the base, this large torso (4.2 x 3.9 x 2.6 meters) opens into 6 parts which rotate and form into the International Olympic symbol. This work is currently in front of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland

With his engineering & architectural knowledge Berrocal has produced many works with great appeal to puzzlers. There are lithographs incorporating puzzles of dividing shapes into congruent parts. The sculptures vary in size from vast monumental pieces to tiny necklace pendants & their complexity is equally varied. Almost all incorporate 3D assembly processes seen nowhere else. "Richelieu" has 60 pieces each of which holds the previously placed piece - thus the sequence as well as position is important in re-assembly. Goliath has 79 pieces, but some chunks have to assembled first before they can be fitted into the finished torso. "Hoplita" has a Rubik Cube in his brain. "Romeo & Juliet" has the most complex hinged parts that fold as they are assembled. Many incorporate amusing jokes and subtle erotic secrets for the observant assembler. The manufacturing process is lengthy, complex and "high-tech" - Huge numbers of drawings and sophisticated prototypes are hand engineered before the high-pressure injection molding of the final bronze multiples. Some are then plated, and all are sold with a beautiful book about the sources of their inspiration and a solution for the faint hearted.

Several books are available about Berrocal's Works. We particularly recommend "Antologica Berrocal" containing 494 pages (A4 size) much is in colour and it shows most of the multiples, which were produced up to 1984, both assembled and disassembled. Published in Madrid in 1984 but copies can occasionally be found.

David

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