Julio González was born in Barcelona on September 21, 1876. With his older brother Joan he worked in his father’s metalsmith shop; during the evenings they took classes at the Escuela de Bellas Artes. González exhibited metalwork at the Exposición de bellas artes e industrias artísticas in Barcelona in 1892, 1896, and 1898, and at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. In 1897 he began to frequent Els Quatre Gats, a café in Barcelona, where he met Pablo Picasso.
In 1900 González moved to Paris; there he began to associate with Pablo Gargallo, Juan Gris, Manolo Hugué, Max Jacob, and Jaime Sabartés. His first embossed metalwork was produced in 1900. He exhibited with the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1903, 1909, and frequently during the early twenties. González participated in the Salon des Indépendants in 1907 and occasionally thereafter. He first exhibited paintings at the Salon d’Automne in 1909, and showed both sculpture and paintings there regularly during the teens and twenties. In 1918 González worked at the Renault factory at Boulogne-Billancourt, where he learned techniques of autogenous welding he used later in iron sculptures. In 1920 he became reacquainted with Picasso.
González’s first solo exhibition, which included paintings, sculpture, drawings, jewelry, and objets d’art, was held in 1922 at the Galerie Povolovsky in Paris. The following year he was given a solo show of works in similarly varied media at the Galerie du Caméléon in Paris. In 1923 González participated in the first Salon du Montparnasse, Paris, with Raoul Dufy, Paco Durrio, Friesz, and others. In 1924 he was included in the exhibition Les Amis du Montparnasse at the Salon des Tuileries and the Salon d’Automne in Paris. He made his first iron sculptures in 1927. From 1928 to 1931 González provided technical assistance to Picasso in executing sculptures in iron. In 1930 he was given a solo sculpture exhibition at the Galerie de France in Paris, and the following year showed at the Salon des Surindépendants for the first time. In 1937 he contributed to the Spanish Pavilion of the World’s Fair in Paris and Cubism and Abstract Art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. That same year he moved to Arcueil, near Paris, where he died on March 27, 1942.