Antoni Tàpies

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Antoni Tàpies
Antoni Tàpies i la fundació IDIBELL.jpg
Antoni Tàpies
Born Antoni Tàpies
(1923-12-13)13 December 1923
Barcelona, Spain
Died 6 February 2012(2012-02-06) (aged 88)
Barcelona, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Known for Painting, sculpture, lithography
Movement Art informel
Awards Praemium Imperiale

Antoni Tàpies i Puig, 1st Marquess of Tàpies (Catalan: [ənˈtɔni ˈtapi.əs]; 13 December 1923 – 6 February 2012) was a Spanish painter, sculptor and art theorist, who became one of the most famous European artists of his generation.


The son of Josep Tàpies i Mestre and Maria Puig i Guerra, Antoni Tàpies Puig was born in Barcelona on 13 December 1923. His father was a lawyer and Catalan nationalist who served briefly with the Republican government. At 17, Tàpies suffered a near-fatal heart attack caused by tuberculosis. He spent two years as a convalescent in the mountains, reading widely and pursuing an interest in art that had already expressed itself when he was in his early teens.[1]

Tàpies studied at the German School of Barcelona. After studying law for 3 years, he devoted himself from 1943 onwards only to his painting. He became known as one of Spain's most renown artists in the second half of the 20th century. His abstract and avant-garde works were displayed in many major museums all over the world. [2] He lived mainly in Barcelona and was represented by the Galerie Lelong in Paris and the Pace Gallery in New York. Tàpies died February 6th 2012. His health had been suffering since 2007. [2]


Tàpies was perhaps the best-known Catalan artist to emerge in the period since the Second World War. He first came into contact with contemporary art as a teenager through the magazine D’Ací i D’Allà, published in Barcelona, and during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), while he was still at school, he taught himself to draw and paint.[3] On a French government scholarship in the early 1950s he lived in Paris, to which he often returned. Both in Europe and beyond, the highly influential French critic and curator Michel Tapié enthusiastically promoted the work of Antoni Tàpies.

In 1948, Tàpies helped co-found the first Post-War Movement in Spain known as Dau al Set which was connected to the Surrealist and Dadaist Movements. The main leader and founder of Dau al Set was the poet Joan Brossa. The movement also had a publication of the same name, Dau al Set. Tàpies started as a surrealist painter, his early works were influenced by Paul Klee and Joan Miró; but soon become an informal artist, working in a style known as pintura matèrica, in which non artistic materials are incorporated into the paintings. In 1953 he began working in mixed media; this is considered his most original contribution to art. One of the first to create serious art in this way, he added clay and marble dust to his paint and used waste paper, string, and rags (Grey and Green Painting, Tate Gallery, London, 1957).

Mural at the Catalan Pavilion at the Seville Expo '92

Tàpies' international reputation was well established by the end of the 1950s. From the late 1950s to early 1960s, Tàpies worked with Enrique Tábara, Antonio Saura, Manolo Millares and many other Spanish Informalist artists. In 1966 he was arrested at a clandestine assembly at the University of Barcelona; his work of the early 1970s is marked by symbols of Catalan identity (which was anathema to Franco).[4] In 1974 he made a series of lithographs called Assassins and displayed them in the Galerie Maeght in Paris, in honour of regime critic Salvador Puig Antich's memory. From about 1970 (influenced by Pop art) he began incorporating more substantial objects into his paintings, such as parts of furniture. Tàpies's ideas have had worldwide influence on art, especially in the realms of painting, sculpture, etchings and lithography. Examples of his work are found in numerous major international collections. His work is associated with both Tachisme and Abstract Expressionism.

The paintings produced by Tàpies, later in the 1970s and in the 1980s, reveal his application of this aesthetic of meditative emptiness, for example in spray-painted canvases with linear elements suggestive of Oriental calligraphy, in mixed-media paintings that extended the vocabulary of Art informel, and in his oblique allusions to imagery within a fundamentally abstract idiom, as in Imprint of a Basket on Cloth (1980).[3] Among the artists' work linked in style to that of Tàpies is that of the American painter Julian Schnabel as both have been connected to the art term "Matter".[5]

Graphic work[edit]

Alongside his production of pictures and objects, from 1947 onward Tàpies was active in the field of graphic work. He produced a large number of collector’s books and dossiers in close association with poets and writers such as Alberti, Bonnefoy, Du Bouchet, Brodsky, Brossa, Daive, Dupin, Foix, Frémon, Gimferrer, Guillén, Jabès, Mestres Quadreny, Mitscherlich, Paz, Saramago, Takiguchi, Ullán, Valente and Zambrano.


Tàpies has written essays which have been collected in a series of publications, some translated into different languages: La pràctica de l’art (1970), L’art contra l’estètica, (1974), Memòria personal (1978), La realitat com a art (1982), Per un art modern i progressista (1985), Valor de l’art (1993) and L’art i els seus llocs (1999).[6]


In 1950, Tàpies' first solo show was held at the Galeries Laietanes, Barcelona, and he was included in the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh.[7] In 1953 he had his first shows in the United States, at the Marshall Field Art Gallery in Chicago and the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York.[1] His first retrospective exhibitions were presented at the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, in 1973 and at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, in 1977.[7] Later he was the subject of retrospective exhibitions at the Jeu de Paume in Paris in 1994, kestnergesellschaft in Hannover in 1998, and at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid in 2000, and was exhibited at the Anita Shapolsky Gallery in New York City in 2006, 2012, and 2014.[8][9]


In 1984, Tàpies created the Tàpies Foundation, dedicated to the study of modern art. In 1990 it opened a museum and library in the premises of a former publishing house in Barcelona. Its holdings include nearly 2,000 examples of his work.[1]


Tàpies was awarded in 1958 the First Prize for painting at the Pittsburgh International, and the UNESCO and David E. Bright Prizes at the Venice Biennale.[10] He received the Rubens Prize of Siegen, Germany, in 1972.[7] On 9 April 2010, he was raised into the Spanish nobility by King Juan Carlos I with the hereditary title of Marqués de Tàpies[11] (English: Marquess of Tàpies). In the Academic Sphere, he received an Honorary Doctorate from the Rovira i Virgili University in 1994. Furthermore, he designed Rovira i Virgili University’s logo, which is characterized by the letter “a”, symbol of universal’s knowledge principle.

See also[edit]

  • Rinzen, work by Tàpies conserved at MACBA in Barcelona


  1. ^ a b c William Grimes (6 February 2012), Antoni Tàpies, Spanish Abstract Painter, Dies at 88 New York Times.
  2. ^ a b "OBITUARIES; PASSINGS; Antoni Tapies; Prominent Spanish art figure". Tribune Publishing Company LLC. 
  3. ^ a b Antoni Tàpies MoMA Collection, New York.
  4. ^ Martin Gayford (25 March 2006), From earth to eternity The Daily Telegraph.
  5. ^ "Matter painting". 
  6. ^ Antoni Tàpies Fundaciò Tàpies, Barcelona.
  7. ^ a b c Antoni Tàpies Guggenheim Collection.
  8. ^ "Antoni Tàpies 1923-2012, ES". 
  9. ^ "Art: The Expressive Edge of Paper", Highbrow Magazine, February 24, 2014
  10. ^ Antoni Tàpies Tate Collection.
  11. ^ Real Decreto 433/2010 – Website BOE


External links[edit]

Spanish nobility
New title Marquess of Tàpies
9 April 2010 – 6 February 2012
Succeeded by
Antoni Tàpies i Barba