efe-epaSan Sebastian (Spain)

A world-renown international gallery devoted to contemporary and modern art is to take on the exclusive representation of the artistic legacy of Eduardo Chillida, one of Spain's foremost sculptors, and the running of a museum dedicated to his work, the gallery and heirs to the estate said Friday.

Hauser & Wirth is to manage the Chillida-Leku, an up until now private museum set in a sculpture park near Spain's northern seaside resort of San Sebastián, the artist's birthplace.

"Chillida is widely recognized for his prominent monumental public sculptures displayed throughout Spain, Germany, France and the USA, although his varied and pioneering practice also spans small-scale sculpture, plasterwork, drawing, engraving and collage," the gallery said in a statement.

The gallery had been open to the public only by appointment since 2011, when the heir decided to try and look for a sustainable way to protect and promote Chillida's legacy.

Chillida, who was born on Jan. 10, 1924 and died Aug. 19, 2002, is known mainly for his monumental sculptural works.

A significant part of Chillida's output is displayed, outdoors and indoors, at Chillida-Leku, which is set within its own parkland in Hernani, just outside San Sebastián.

With the support and guidance of Hauser & Wirth, the museum is to reopen in 2018 to the wider public "as a vital resource for experiencing and learning about the work of Eduardo Chillida," the statement said.

"Chillida has always loomed large in my mind as a true genius and the guiding force in Spanish postwar art," said Iwan Wirth.

Hauser & Wirth had included Chillida in one of their first exhibitions, focused on contemporary Spanish art, 25 years ago, the statement said.

"I look forward to furthering his reputation in the United States as well as in Europe and Asia," Wirth said.

"Since my father’s death, we have worked to safeguard his legacy and have initiated a number of projects and exhibitions during that time," said Luis Chillida, son of the artist.

One of Chillida's most popular works was "Peine del Viento" (the Wind's Comb) which was installed in 1976 at one end of San Sebastián's beachfront.

The work is set above the waves at the western end of La Concha Bay and consists of three 11-ton twisting steel elements, embedded in rocks by the sea, that look like they are trying to grasp the wind.

"Chillida conceived of this work in relation to the horizon and water, two elements which he returned to throughout his career," the statement said.

Chillida has achieved worldwide recognition as one of the world's most important sculptors and some pieces dedicated to fellow artists, including Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder and Joan Miró; musicians like Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi; and philosophers and poets such as Martin Heidegger, Emil Cioran and Pablo Neruda, have received considerable critical and public acclaim.