April 14, 2010



"Pilgrims in stone and bronze". The Jacobean commemorative monument as a cultural and artistic heritage of the Way.

Mr. José Javier Azanza López.
Chair of Navarrese Heritage and Art

Two premises justify and give meaning to this study linking public sculpture and the Camino de Santiago. On the one hand, the leading role that public sculpture has been playing since the 1980s in the panorama of the plastic arts, to which is added in parallel a growing interest in its study and cataloguing as an essential task for its conservation and knowledge dissemination, as well as to determine its true heritage value.
issue In addition to this, there is the observable fact that, in recent decades, the artistic imprint of the Camino has taken the form of a large number of sculptures of a Jacobean nature that have appeared along the route to accompany pilgrims on their journey. Undoubtedly, public sculpture is one of the main artistic manifestations of our time linked to the Camino de Santiago. The importance of the public and commemorative monument as cultural heritage associated with the pilgrimage route has led us to propose a study of topic that addresses the fundamental issues related to this typology, and then proceed to approach the works from an iconographic perspective.
The question about the function and meaning of public sculpture in its link to the Camino de Santiago forces us to ask ourselves about the reasons for its commission and execution. There are several reasons that justify its presence in the Jacobean route, from the merely aesthetic, through the commemorative and communicative, to the symbolic, to be understood and interpreted as a metaphor that invites the pilgrim to reflect on the inner journey of life. For its part, the chronological analysis of the Jacobean commemorative monument is extremely explicit of the growing interest in this artistic typology as a sign of identity of the Camino, as it shows the progressive increase experienced since 1965 -first works- until 2010, with special incidence in the Holy Years. The location determines the clear dominance of the French Way over other routes, as well as the urban character of most of the sculptures overlooking the Camino, looking for places of special Jacobean significance within the streets. Outside this urban environment, some monuments dot the Jacobean route in singular places along the Way, with special predilection for the crowning of the mountainous difficulties.

José Maria Acuña. "The Arrival."

José Maria Acuña. "The Arrival" (1994). Monte do Gozo

The study of the financing channels through which monuments have been erected on the Jacobean route shows a diversity of promoters, including public administrations, cultural associations, business private and individuals, with little prominence of popular subscription. The analysis of techniques and materials sample shows a preference for those of guaranteed duration, as they are intended to remain outdoors. As for the artistic language employee in the Jacobean sculpture, the figurative realist current dominates, understanding the image as a direct representative object clearly understood by the public; however, it is not closed to other trends in which cubist geometrization, organicism, the surrealist and symbolist approach, and even abstract language have a place.

Finally, an iconographic approach to Jacobean public sculpture allows us to establish different categories according to the themes and subjects represented: the pilgrim who directs his steps towards Compostela, either alone or in group; the moment of rest to regain strength and, why not, also to abandon himself to meditation and contemplation, concepts closely linked to the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela; the presence of St. James the Apostle -or of Christ himself- as pilgrims on the pilgrimage route; the characters that appear on the Camino as a tribute to those who, for one reason or another, are associated with the pilgrimage route; and the great monumental ensembles of an architectural-sculptural nature.