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Thursday, 30 August, 2001, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Juan Muņoz: Traditional modernist
Double Blind
Double Blind 2001: Part of Tate Modern's Unilever Series
The art world has been paying tribute to the Spanish sculptor Juan Muņoz, who died suddenly on Tuesday at the age of 48.

Tate Galleries director Nicholas Serota called Muņoz "a distinctive figure within a generation of European artists whose work has significantly extended the language of sculpture".

"His figurative sculpture drew on Spanish tradition, but was informed by an understanding of modernist practice," Serota added.

His recent commission for London's Tate Modern, Double Bind - which Muņoz described as "probably the biggest artistic commission in the world" - brought the sculptor to wider public attention in the UK.

Muņoz'
Muņoz's work was featured worldwide
Muņoz studied in England from 1976-80, having grown up in General Franco's Spain.

He studied at the Croydon School of Art and the Central School of Art and Design in London, the city where he also met his wife Cristina Iglesias.

Besides his work in sculpture, which was influenced by the Italian Arte Povera movement as well as American minimalism, he was fascinated by the possibilities of multi-media work.

He collaborated with composer Gavin Bryars and critic John Berger on radio plays, and was working on another radio play with his brother-in-law Alberto Iglesias this year.

'Storyteller'

He enjoyed a meteoric rise to international renown, becoming renowned for large-scale sculptures with realistically represented human figures.

His representational streak marked him out from some other contemporary sculptors, and he once described himself as "a storyteller".

His work was featured in the collections of many major museums, including the Tate Gallery in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In 2000 he won Spain's Premio Nacional de Bellas Artes - though he was never asked to represent his country at the Venice Biennale.

In October a retrospective of his work is due to open at the Hirschorn Museum in Washington DC in the US - which will then travel to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

Muņoz, who died on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza, is survived by his wife and two children.

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