Antoni Tàpies
Spain, 1923
Spain, 2012
Antoni Tàpies (Barcelona, 1923-2012) holds a privileged place in mid to late 20th-century Spanish art, representing the continuation of the great masters of the first avant-garde movements, including Picasso, Miró and Dalí. His artistic calling came early, at the age of 19, when a pulmonary illness forced him to spend long periods of time convalescing at Catalan sanatoriums where he began to draw and develop an interest in the aesthetic of German Romanticism. During the late forties, he co-founded the group Dau al Set as well as the magazine of the same name. The work he realised during this period clearly displays the influence of Miró and Klee to which Tàpies added themes and iconography of a magical nature. In 1950 he travelled to Paris where he came into contact with the paintings of artists who would play an important role in his creative development, including Dubuffet, Fautrier, Michaux and Mathieu. During the mid-fifties, he created his first matter paintings, which brought him a remarkable level of international recognition. During the sixties, he began incorporating different iconographic elements (writing, footprints, anthropomorphic drawings and signs alluding to the reality of Catalonia). He also experimented with a vast variety of materials and textures as well as everyday objects. The seventies marked a period of increased political commitment on his part, resulting in the prolific production of posters and artists’ books. In 1979 he published Memoria personal and, three years later, La realidad como arte, a collection of articles he had written for newspapers and magazines, some of them highly controversial. The eighties were defined by the realisation of large-scale works in which Tàpies displayed the full range of his symbolic archetypes. The foundation bearing his name opened in Barcelona in 1990. Over the decades that followed, several important retrospectives examined the evolution of the artist and his exploration of different techniques and iconographic motifs. During the last years of his life, Tàpies experienced a uniquely exuberant creative period, which saw the publication of books as important as El arte y sus lugares and the completion of works that are highly radical and revealing in character.
Valentín Roma