Antoni Tapies

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Antoni Tapies

Antoni Tàpies i Puig , I Marqués de Tàpies (Barcelona, ​​December 13, 1923 – ibid, February 6, 2012), was a painter, sculptor and theoretician of Spanish art. One of the leading exponents of informalism worldwide, is considered one of the most outstanding Spanish artists of the twentieth century. The work of the Catalan artist has a study and conservation center at the Antoni Tàpies Foundation in Barcelona.

Self-taught, Tàpies created his own style within the avant-garde art of the twentieth century, which combined tradition and innovation in an abstract but full of symbolism, giving great relevance to the material substrate of the work . It should be noted the marked spiritual sense given by the artist to his work, where the material support transcends his state to mean a deep analysis of the human condition.

The work of Tàpies has had a great valuation both nationally and internationally, being exposed in the most prestigious museums in the world. Throughout his career he has received numerous awards and distinctions, among which include the Prize of the Wolf Foundation of Arts (1981), the Gold Medal of the Generalitat of Catalonia (1983), the Prince of Asturias Award for las Artes (1990), the Picasso Medal of Unesco (1993) and the Velázquez Prize for Visual Arts (2003). In recognition of his artistic career, King Juan Carlos I granted him the title of Marquis of Tàpies on April 9, 2010.

“The work of Antoni Tàpies is within the tradition of these explosions that from time to time occur in our country and that move so many dead things. It is authentically Barcelonan with universal irradiation. That’s why I deserve all my admiration. “

Antoni_Tapies’s Biography

The four chronicles, in the Tarradellas Room of the Palace of the Generalitat of Catalonia.

Tàpies was the son of lawyer Josep Tàpies i Mestres and Maria Puig i Guerra, daughter of a family of Catalan politicians. The profession of his father and the relations of his mother’s family with members of the Catalan political life fostered a liberal atmosphere during the childhood of the artist. Tàpies always remarked that the confrontation between his father’s anticlericalism and his mother’s orthodox Catholicism led him to a personal search for a new spirituality, which he found in Oriental philosophies and religions, mainly Zen Buddhism.

According to his own confession, his artistic vocation woke up with a Christmas issue of D’Ací i d’Allà magazine in 1934, which presented an extensive panorama of international modern art, one of the events that marked his life was his convalescence by consumption at age 18, a circumstance that made him rethink the meaning of his life, as well as his vocation, since during his recovery he devoted himself intensely to drawing. The febrile states that he suffered caused frequent hallucinations that would be paramount for the development of his work. During his stay in the sanatorium of Puig d’Olena (1942-1943) he took refuge in music (Wagner) and literature (Ibsen, Nietzsche, Thomas Mann), and made copies of Van Gogh and Picasso.

He combined his law studies at the University of Barcelona, ​​which he had started in 1943, with his passion for art. He finally opted for painting and abandoned his studies in 1946. Self-taught, he only studied briefly at the Academy of Nolasc Valls, his first painting studio installed him in Barcelona in 1946.

In 1948 he was one of the founders of the magazine and movement known as Dau al Set, related to Surrealism and Dadaism. The leader of this movement was the Catalan poet Joan Brossa and, along with Tàpies, featured Modest Cuixart, Joan-Josep Tharrats, Joan Ponç, Arnau Puig and later Juan Eduardo Cirlot. The magazine lasted until 1956, but Tàpies had gone to Paris in 1950 and had left the group although he continued to collaborate sporadically on the publication.

The first works of Tàpies were framed within Surrealism, but from that distance he changed his style, becoming one of the main exponents of Informalism. Representative of the so-called “material painting”, Tàpies used for his works materials that are not considered as artistic, but rather of recycling or waste, such as ropes, paper or marble dust.


Plaque placed in the birthplace of Antoni Tàpies, Calle de la Canuda, Barcelona.

In 1948 he exhibited his work for the first time in the I Salon de Octubre in Barcelona, ​​showing two works from 1947: Painting and Gluing. That year he met Joan Miró, one of his most admired artists, and in 1949 he took part in the exhibition An aspect of young Catalan painting at the French Institute in Barcelona, ​​where he was seen by Eugeni d’Ors, who invited him to the VII Salón de los Once, in Madrid (1950) In 1950 he made his first solo exhibition at the Galeries Laietanes in Barcelona, ​​where he exhibited again in 1952. He received a scholarship from the French Institute, traveled to Paris (1950), where he was exhibited in the competition Carnegie international of Pittsburgh, and where he met Picasso.

In 1950 he was selected to represent Spain at the Venice Biennial, where he participated several times. In 1953 he exhibited in Chicago and Madrid; that year the dealer Martha Jackson organized an exhibition in New York, making it known in the United States. The same year he won the first prize of the Barcelona Jazz Salon, and met the critic Michel Tapié, advisor to the Stadler Gallery in Paris, where he exhibited in 1956 and several times since then, and in 1954 he married Teresa Barba i Fàbregas , with whom he had three children: Antoni (poet), Clara and Miquel Àngel.

He was one of the founders of the Taüll group in 1955, together with Modest Cuixart, Joan-Josep Tharrats, Marc Aleu, Josep Guinovart, Jordi Mercadé and Jaume Muxart, that year he was awarded at the III Hispano-American Biennial in Barcelona, ​​and exhibited in Stockholm with Tharrats, presented by Salvador Dalí. In 1958 he had a special room at the Venice Biennale, and won the first Carnegie Prize and the Unesco Prize.

In 1960 he participated in the exhibition New Spanish Painting and Sculpture at the MOMA in New York. Since then he made exhibitions in Barcelona, ​​Madrid, Paris, New York, Washington, Bern, Munich, Bilbao, Buenos Aires, Hannover, Caracas, Zurich, Rome, Sankt Gallen, Cologne, Kassel, London, Cannes, etc., and received awards in Tokyo (1960), New York (1964) and Menton (1966). In 1967 he entered the orbit of the art dealer Aimé Maeght and exhibited at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris (1973), New York (1975) and the Maeght Foundation (1976).

In the 1970s his work acquired a greater political tinge, Catalan claim and opposition to the Franco regime, usually with words and signs on the paintings, like the four bars of the Catalan flag (Catalan spirit, 1971). This activism also led him to actions such as the confinement of the convent of the Capuchins of Sarrià to form a democratic student union (1966) or the march to Montserrat in protest of the Burgos process (1970), for which he was imprisoned for a short space of time.

Since then he made numerous personal or anthological exhibitions: Tokyo, 1976; New York, 1977; Rome, 1980; Amsterdam, 1980; Madrid, 1980; Venice, 1982; Milan, 1985; Vienna, 1986; Brussels, 1986; MNCARS, Madrid, 2000; Micovna Pavilion of the Royal Garden of Prague, 1991; MOMA, New York, 1992; Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1995; Kirin Art Space Harajuku, Tokyo, 1996; Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato, 1997. The work of Antoni Tàpies has been exhibited in the main museums of modern art in the world. In addition to being named honorary doctor by various universities, Tàpies was awarded several prizes, among them, the Wolf Foundation Prize for the Arts (1981), the Gold Medal of the Generalitat of Catalonia (1983) and the Prince Prize of Asturias de las Artes (1990).

In 1990 the Antoni Tàpies Foundation opened its doors to the public, an institution created by the artist himself to promote contemporary art, located in the building of the old Montaner i Simón Publishing House, a modernist work by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The foundation also has the function of a museum, counting among its funds a large number of works donated by the artist, and also has a library and an audience.

Tàpies was also the author of scenographies (Or i sal, by Joan Brossa, 1961) and illustrations for books, mainly by Brossa (El pa a la barca, 1963, Fregoli, 1969, Nocturn matinal, 1970, Poems from the Catalan , 1973; Ú no és ningú, 1979); He also dedicated himself to poster design, making an exhibition in 1984 with his main poster work, as well as graphic production: prints, lithographs, serigraphs, etc. In 2002 he made the poster for the Mercè de Barcelona.

As a theorist of art, Tàpies published articles in Destino, Serra d’Or, La Vanguardia, Avui, etc., the majority compiled in the books The practice of art (1970), Art against aesthetics (1974), The reality as art (1982) and For a modern and progressive art (1985), as well as the autobiography Personal Memory (1977). In his works he attacked both traditional art and the extreme avant-garde of conceptual art.

With the transition to the 21st century Tàpies did not fail to receive numerous awards both nationally and internationally, organizing retrospective exhibitions of his work in the best museums and galleries in the world. In 2003, on the occasion of its eightieth anniversary, a retrospective was held with its best works at the Antoni Tàpies Foundation, with the public attending an open day. Also, in 2004, a tribute to his figure was organized at the MACBA in Barcelona, ​​with a large exhibition consisting of 150 works made from the 1940s to the present, with paintings, sculptures, drawings and various creations by the great artist. 16]

Among his latest public acts include his collaboration with José Saramago in 2005 in defense of the Basque pacifist group Elkarri, or the donation in the same year of his work on November 7 to the Parliament of Catalonia to mark the 25th anniversary of the restoration In October 2007, he gave an original work to the campaign against the closure of TV3 broadcasts in Valencia, so that his reproductions could be sold at ten euros and thus pay the fine imposed on ACPV by the Valencian Government. The same year he left a message in the Caja de las Letras of the Instituto Cervantes that will not be opened until 2022. On April 9, 2010 he was named Marquess of Tàpies by King Juan Carlos I. < / p>

Antoni Tàpies died on February 6, 2012 at his home in Barcelona, ​​aged 88.

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