Stylised Designs

Toros de Costitx Pulse para ampliar Toros de Costitx (Sala 15)

Bulls of Costitx

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak ” Hans Hofmann

The cast bronze sculptures known as the Bulls of Costitx were found at the Mallorcan shrine of San Corró (Costitx, Mallorca). They belong to the post-Talayotic culture of the Balearic Islands and are dated to between the fifth and third centuries BC. They were presumably meant to be hung on the wall of the shrine, where specific rituals were most likely held. Their presence indicates the worship of a bull deity, a cult that originated in Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures. His union with the great mother-goddess, venerated throughout the Mediterranean Basin in Antiquity, ensured the regeneration of plant life, abundant crops, fertile livestock and, consequently, the survival of these post-Talayotic communities, whose economy relied primarily on animal husbandry.

On a formal level, these objects are remarkable for their size, exquisite craftsmanship and great realism. The hollow forms were cast using the lost-wax technique, while the details were carved with a burin. The striking lyre-shaped horns and the ears were cast separately.

This design is marked by the stylisation, elegance, purity and simplicity of its form, achieved by eliminating the unnecessary. The object, stripped of all superficial elements, is still perfectly recognisable. The design is intuitive and easy to understand, understated and consistent in its details. Beauty is expressed through the simplicity of forms, colours and textures, denoting a wise choice of materials and finishes. Its constituent parts were assembled with a keen eye for symmetry and composition, and its curves recall organic forms. As an eminently aesthetic design, it possesses the intrinsic power to captivate the beholder.

There is a striking resemblance between this neutral, sober representation and the 20th-century bull’s head that Picasso fashioned from a bicycle seat and handlebars.

But this is not the end ... the history of design is still being written.