Fundació Antoni Tàpies

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Montaner i Simon building, with the work Núvol i cadira by Tàpies on the top

The Fundació Antoni Tàpies (Catalan pronunciation: [fundəsiˈo ənˈtɔni ˈtapiəs], 'Antoni Tàpies Foundation') is a cultural center and museum, located in Carrer d'Aragó, in Barcelona, Catalonia (Spain), dedicated mainly to the life and works of the painter Antoni Tàpies.

The Fundació was created in 1984 by the artist Antoni Tàpies to promote the study and knowledge of modern and contemporary art. It combines the organisation of temporary exhibitions, symposia, lectures and film seasons with a range of publications to go with the activities and periodic shows of Antoni Tàpies’ work. The Fundació owns one of the most complete collections of Tàpies’ work, mostly made up of donations by Antoni and Teresa Tàpies.

The Building[edit]

The Fundació opened its doors in June 1990 in the building of the former Editorial Montaner i Simon publishing house, the work of the Modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner.

Restored and refurbished by the architects Roser Amadó and Lluís Domènech Girbau. Constructed between 1880 and 1885, at an early stage of the evolution of Catalan Modernism, the building was the first in the Eixample district to integrate industrial typology and technology, combining exposed brick and iron, into the fabric of the city centre.

The Montaner i Simon publishing house along with Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Vicens, is one of the few remaining examples of a way of building that has now been lost, also exemplifies the passing of an eclectic architectural style popular in the 19th century and the emergence of a new style, Art Nouveau, or Catalan Modernism. Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Antoni Gaudí established the architectural bases defining two different forms of development: Gaudí embodied an "expressionist" current, whilst Domènech i Montaner was more inclined towards rationalism.

Domènech i Montaner drew up the plans for the Montaner i Simon publishing house in 1879. The building embodies many of his concerns about architecture, which he did not see as an autonomous element, but as linked to a given social and historic context. He set out these views in an article published in the magazine La Renaixensa in 1878, entitled En busca de una arquitectura nacional (Looking for a national architecture). In it, more than reaching definitive conclusions or providing specific answers, he posed for the first time a series of questions about the need for a national architecture that was also, at the same time, an expression of the concerns of the new modern age.

The Fundació’s building is "hemmed in" between the two side walls of the adjacent buildings. To elevate its height and underscore its new identity, Antoni Tàpies created the sculpture crowning the building entitled Núvol i cadira (Cloud and Chair, 1990). This sculpture represents a chair jutting out of a large cloud. The chair, a recurring motif in Tàpies’ works, alludes to a meditative attitude and to aesthetic contemplation.

This building’s façade combines classical stylistic influences, which are visible on the central doorway and the two symmetrical lateral volumes, and Muslim influences, as seen in the use of unpolished brick, classical Mozarabic elements and the arabesque-like geometrical composition.

The headquarters of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies was declared a historical monument in 1997. From 2008 to 2010, the firm of architects Ábalos+Sentkiewicz Arquitectos carried out a second rehabilitation of the building in order to comply with the new safety and evacuation regulations and to recuperate its original industrial character. On this occasion, Antoni Tàpies’ work Mitjó (Sock. Maquette, 1991) was installed on the terrace of the Fundació, situated on top of the new offices.


The collection of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies consists mostly of the works donated by Antoni and Teresa Tàpies. There are some exceptions, such as Ocre i gris sobre marró (Ochre-grey over brown, 1962), donated by David K. Anderson. Likewise, the initial batch of works has kept growing every year, thanks to Antoni and Teresa Tàpies’ yearly donation of a new work.

Among paintings, sculptures and drawings, books, and engravings, the collection has examples of every aspect of Tàpies’ artistic output and of the different typologies, techniques and materials he uses. The collection includes a selection of drawings and portraits from the forties, a major group of the matter paintings of the fifties and sixties, a large number of object works from the sixties and early seventies, and others done with foam-rubber or the spray technique, varnishes and fireclay from the eighties, and objects and sculptures done over the nineties, in which he experimented with new materials such as metal sheets, sometimes used as pictorial supports, or bronze.

First works[edit]

Tàpies’ first works display a strong primitive character linked to dada and children’s art or art produced by the mentally handicapped, therefore, close to Art Brut. Moreover, those works, which in some cases foreshadow his later work with materials, show a marked Symbolist influence in terms of the importance given to allegory, myth and metaphor. Some works from that period are Zoom (1946), one of the earliest works in the collection, Cap i bandera (Head and flag, 1946) and Creu de paper de diari (Newsprint Cross, 1946–47).

The forties[edit]

In the forties, as a reaction to the conservative art promoted by the Franco regime, many young artists took an interest in Surrealism, which had been the last avant-garde movement to evolve in Spain before the Civil War. The beginning of Tàpies’ Surrealist period coincided with the foundation, in 1948, of the magazine Dau al Set with other artists and writers. In the works from that period, we find references to Miró, Ernst, and Klee. In the case of the work Parafaragamus (1949), we can observe aspects which are classic Miró alongside elements of the art of Klee.


Between 1949 and 1950, Tàpies acquired an increasingly heightened social conscience. That new attitude can be set in the framework of a widespread controversy among defenders of committed art and supporters of an avantgarde variety, which reached its height while he was in Paris between 1950 and 1951. From that period we have the series of drawings entitled Història Natural (Natural History, 1950–51), in which the artist shows us the evolution of nature, its metamorphoses and transformation up to civilisation and the class struggle. The works from that period combine a realist representation with a character that remains Surrealist. Such is the case of La barberia dels maleïts i dels elegits (The barbershop of the damned and the chosen, 1950) or Collage de paper moneda (Collage of bank notes, 1951).


From 1952 to 1954, Tàpies’ art became strongly abstract as a reaction to the previous period, openly political and social in tone. During those years his work focused on visual aspects, such as form and colour, and also echoed the neo-Plasticist ideas that were gaining ground in European artistic circles. At all events, those experiments were short-lived in Tàpies’ work, because his interest went beyond mere formal expression. He soon began to work with new materials, such as marble dust, sand, and coloured clays, among others. In 1954, that line gave rise to a new type of work, which is known generically as matter painting.

The matter paintings[edit]

In the matter paintings, the materials used are no longer simple media used to express an idea; they are the idea itself. That process produces a complete identification between material and form, between concept and language. Those works become opaque surfaces, walls on which the artist writes his graffiti and attaches the forms of objects or people. His identification with the work through his surname (in Catalan Tàpies means "walls") expresses a more profound desire to break with Western dualism and blend with the material in a continuous formlessness.

Over the post-war years there was a general interest among artists on both sides of the Atlantic in material. Awareness of the atomic bomb and the new scientific discoveries aroused a strong curiosity in science, the new ideas about space-time and substance, while inventions such as the electronic microscope provided a new view of nature.

At the same time, Tàpies had developed an interest in Eastern philosophy, because of its emphasis on material, the identity between man and nature and its denial of the dualism of our society.

Fifties and sixties[edit]

Many of the works from the fifties and sixties show a world which is still being shaped, a nature of petrified footprints, of fossils, as if it had been deserted for thousands of years. Tàpies believes that the notion of material also needs to be understood from the point of view of Mediaeval mysticism—through the writings of Arnau de Vilanova, Enrique de Villena, and Ramon Llull—as magic, mystery and alchemy. That is how we can understand the artist as an ‘alchemist of the spirit’, someone who can transform our inner selves beyond ourselves.

That alchemical meaning is to be found throughout his work. It was also over those years that he drafted a series of images, usually taken from his immediate surroundings, which appear at different stages of his evolution. Often, besides being represented in different ways, a single image will have a series of different meanings which are superimposed on one another.

So, Tàpies offers us a ‘materialist’ vision of the world. His message focuses on a revaluation of the low, the repulsive, of material (it is not by chance that he often chooses subjects traditionally regarded as unpleasant or fetishist, such as a defecating anus, a discarded shoe, an armpit or a foot). Material is the substantial element of life. One consequence of that rejection of the idea in favour of material is the notion of the ‘formless’ whose aim, according to Georges Bataille, was to cancel out all formal categories: the ‘formless’ cancels out the distinction between nature and culture.

The technical process through which Tàpies creates the matter paintings conveys that notion of the ‘formless’. First of all, he covers the support with a layer of varnish and before it dries he applies marble dust, sand and other materials and pigments. Then he adds paint on different zones, creating a figure, an object or simply a stain. When the last layers begin to dry, the material cracks and shows its structural components. At times he heightens that impression by scraping the paint in different places. The Fundació Antoni Tàpies collection has a large number of works from that period: El crit. Groc i violeta (The Cry. Yellow and violet, 1953), Terra i pintura (Earth and paint, 1956), Pintura rosa i blava (Pink and blue painting, 1959), Forma negra sobre quadrat gris (Black form on grey square, 1960), or Relleu amb cordes (Relief with strings, 1963).

Late sixties and early seventies[edit]

Fundació Tàpies 04

In the late sixties and early seventies, while his political commitment grew, Tàpies worked even more with objects. No doubt that re-newed interest in the object coincided with the efforts of Arte Povera in Europe and post-Minimalism in the United States, though he did not show objects as they are, but left his mark on them and incorporated them into his language. Unlike many Povera or post-Minimalist works, in general Tàpies’ objects are not interventions on a specific space; they are absorbed by the pictorial frame they are incorporated into, as we can see in Palla i fusta (Straw and wood, 1969) or Pantalons sobre bastidor (Trousers on stretcher, 1971).

Although in the last years of the sixties and the first of the seventies his work showed a special sensitivity towards the object, he never gave up painting or graphic work. Naturally, both of them took on a marked social and political character during those years [A la memòria de Salvador Puig Antich [In memory of Salvador Puig Antich] and Assasins, [Assassins], 1974).

Early eighties[edit]

In the early eighties, once legality had returned to Spain and the years of political struggle had come to an end, Tàpies’ interest in canvas as a support took on renewed strength. That new period in his artistic evolution coincided with the return to painting promoted in broad sectors of the art world in Europe and the United States. With that rediscovery of painting, Tàpies used two procedures which, if not entirely new, did take on a vital role. The first consisted of spraying objects hidden on a canvas. The second was staining the canvas or wooden support with varnish, which adopted different shapes when handled by the artist, but never entirely lost its formless character. Examples of these two procedures are found in works, such as Efecte d’arrugues i taronja (Wrinkles and orange effect, 1979) and Sinuós de vernís sobre negre (Wary line in varnish on black, 1983).

Late eighties[edit]

In the late eighties, Tàpies’ interest in Eastern culture seems to have grown. He has also been attracted by the latest generation of scientists, from David Bohm to Rupert Sheldrake. Those thinkers have helped to provide a new vision of the universe that understands matter as a whole in constant change and formation.

Last few years[edit]

The works of the last few years are, first and foremost, a reflection on pain—both physical and spiritual—understood as an integral part of life. Influenced by Buddhist thought, Tàpies considers that a greater knowledge of pain softens its effects and therefore improves the quality of life. The passage of time, which has always been a constant in his work, takes on fresh nuances when lived as a personal experience involving a greater self-knowledge and a clearer understanding of the world around him. It is also interesting to note how certain current events, such as the war in former Yugoslavia or the murders and deportations in Rwanda, have left their mark on his output. And so his latest work is crowded with images of shrouds, dead bodies and coffins. Some of those works in the collection are Parla, parla (Speak, speak, 1992), Cos i filferros (Body and wire, 1996), and Dues piles de terra (Two piles of earth, 2001).

Field of graphics[edit]

Alongside his output of paintings and objects, since 1947 Tàpies has explored the field of graphics. It is worth noting that he has produced a large number of collector’s books in close association with poets and writers such as Alberti, Bonnefoy, Du Bouchet, Brodsky, Brossa, Daive, Dupin, Foix, Frémon, Gimferrer, Guillén, Jabès, Mitscherlich, Paz, Takiguchi, Ullán, Valente, and Zambrano, among others. The Fundació collection contains copies of practically all existing editions of these works.

Temporary exhibitions[edit]


  • Louise Bourgeois
  • Garry Winogrand: ficciones del mundo real
  • La ansiedad de las influencias. Tàpies visto por Llena
  • Tàpies. Certezas sentidas
  • Jannis Kounellis. La Stanza Vede


  • Tàpies. Comunicació sobre el mur
  • Krzysztof Wodiczko. Instrumentos, proyecciones y vehículos
  • Hélio Oiticica
  • Mario Merz
  • Tàpies. Celebració de la mel
  • Brassaï
  • África explora: arte africano del siglo XX
  • Franz Kline: arte y estructura de la identidad
  • Sol LeWitt. Dibujos 1958-1992
  • La primera generación: mujeres y vídeo, 1970-1975
  • En el espíritu de Fluxus


  • Los límites del museo
  • Hans Haacke. ’Obra Social’
  • Jana Sterbak. Velleitas
  • Francis Picabia. Máquinas y españolas
  • Paul Thek. El mundo maravilloso que no llegó a ser
  • Craigie Horsfield. La ciudad de la gente
  • Señales de vídeo: aspectos de la videocreación española de los últimos años
  • Robert Motherwell
  • Ana Mendieta
  • Marcel Broodthaers. Cinéma
  • László Moholy-Nagy. Fotogramas 1922-1943
  • Lygia Clark


  • Tàpies. El tatuaje y el cuerpo. Papeles, cartones y collages
  • Dan Graham
  • Chris Marker
  • Merce Cunningham
  • Art & Language en práctica
  • El cine calculado
  • James Coleman
  • Renée Green. Sombras y señales
  • Andy Warhol: cine, vídeo y tv
  • Dan Graham
  • Culturas de archivo
  • Matt Mullican. Más detalles de un universo imaginario


  • Eulàlia Valldosera. Obras 1990-2000
  • Victor Burgin
  • Insideout: jardí del cambalache
  • Arquitecturas del discurso
  • Hans-Peter Feldmann. Exposición de arte
  • Asger Jorn
  • Representaciones árabes contemporáneas. Beirut / Líbano
  • Ir y venir de Valcárcel Medina
  • Inflamable
  • Shoot Shoot Shoot. La primera década de la London Film-Makers’ Co-operative y el cine de vanguardia británico 1966-1976
  • Tàpies. Escritura material. Libros
  • Vídeos de ocasión
  • Indivisuals
  • Jon Mikel Euba. Kill’em all
  • Representaciones árabes contemporáneas. El Cairo
  • Steve McQueen


  • Mangelos nº 1 - 9½
  • Suturas y fragmentos. Cuerpos y territorios en la ciencia ficción
  • Tour-ismos. La derrota de la disensión
  • Route 181, fragmentos de un viaje en Palestina-Israel
  • maquettes-sans-qualité. Travail en grève / Trabajo en huelga
  • El sueño del público: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
  • Inflamable II
  • Fernando Bryce
  • Entusiasmo
  • Archivo F.X.: La ciudad vacía
  • Representaciones árabes contemporáneas. La ecuación iraquí
  • Registros y hábitos. Máquina de tiempo / imágenes de espacio
  • Los carteles de Tàpies y la esfera pública
  • Homenaje a Picasso


  • Zona B: en los márgenes de Europa
  • Sanja Iveković. Alerta general. Obras 1974-2007
  • Bahman Jalali
  • Con y contra el cine. En torno a Mayo del 68


  • Abrimos
  • Antoni Tàpies. Los lugares del arte
  • Eva Hesse. Trabajos del estudio
  • Alma Matrix. Bracha L. Ettinger y Ria Verhaeghe
  • Anna Maria Maiolino
  • Ibon Aranberri. Organigrama
  • Pere Noguera. Historias de archivo
  • En el primer círculo. Un proyecto de Imogen Stidworthy
  • Limen. El centro de arte como institución total
  • Retrospectiva por Xavier Le Roy

Upcoming Exhibitions[edit]

Antoni Tàpies. Head arms legs body[edit]

22 June – 4 November 2012

The exhibition Antoni Tàpies. Head arms legs body deals with the last thirteen years of the artist’s production. The show will take place in several spaces, where viewers will be able to move from an intimate relationship with the works on paper, to the brutal and monumental confrontations of the works on wood.

The exhibition includes a selection of works centred on the body. Heads, feet, truncated torsos, scattered legs and arms, sexual organs, reveal the way Tàpies dismembers the body and works on it to create a topography of the rawness of the human condition. Linking object and subject, Tàpies often expresses a desire to shock the viewer visually.

Re.act.feminism #2[edit]

16 November 2012 – 17 February 2013

re.act.feminism #2 is a growing, temporary and living performance archive traveling through Europe from 2011 to 2013. It presents feminist, gendercritical and queer performance art by a vast number of artists and artist collectives from the 1960s to the beginning of the 1980s, as well as contemporary positions.

Bringing together works from Eastern and Western Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, the US and Latin America, the project offers artistic views across time and geography, aiming to strengthen cross-generational and trans-cultural dialogue. En route through Europe this temporary archive will be continuously expanded through local research and cooperation with art academies and universities and is accompanied by workshops, performances and talks.


The Education Department of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies follows three directions: to disseminate the work and ideas of Antoni Tàpies and to be a centre of reference in relation to the artist; to approach contemporaneity from different perspectives starting with the artists presented in temporary exhibitions; and to emphasise the heritage value of the historical building by Lluís Domènech i Montaner that houses the Fundació.

Under these three directions, the specific proposals follow a concept of education understood as an act of communication where members of the public are the protagonists – a two-way approach where educators and visitors discuss and exchange experiences so that each person can find their own participative space. This is the key to the specific programmes addressed to students of all educational levels, families and people over 60, among others. For the next season, the educational services have been expanded with the aim of adapting to the different interests and needs of the users.


The Fundació Antoni Tàpies Library opened on June 1990. It is housed in one of the representative buildings of Catalan Modernistaarchitecture, the former Montaner i Simón publishing house (1879), designed by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The Library covers modern and contemporary art.

It contains an extensive and unique archive of materials on the work of Antoni Tàpies: monographs, exhibition catalogues, opening invitations, press clippings and other materials. The collections include books on painting, sculpture, drawing, architecture, design, decorative arts, performance, music, photography, cinema and video. It also has sections on the art and cultures of the Orient, Africa and Oceania.

The nucleus of the collection, some 5,000 volumes, was donated by the artist Antoni Tàpies.

The Library’s holdings include over 48.000 volumes (books and exhibition catalogues), 500 journals and an audiovisual collection with more than 800 titles and the number increases by an average of 2.000 items per year. Bibliographies and documentary dossiers on the exhibitions held at the Fundació are also available.

The books are on open access, though there is a reserve section for special materials.



Situated in the main museum area, the Auditorium is a multi-functional space with perfect acoustics, and offers numerous possibilities for private functions. It has a stage, a presidential table and a lectern, which can be adapted for congresses, press conferences, cinema cycles, workshops, music concerts, presentations and cocktails.

The Auditorium also has an annex space where materials can be stored, or it can be used for catering services. It also has a cabin, fully equipped with audio and video facilities, suitable for simultaneous translation, recording, or as a secretarial office.

Library Exhibition Gallery[edit]

The Library Exhibition Gallery is where the Fundació’s Collection, with works by Antoni Tàpies, is on permanent display. With its Modernista architecture that communicates with the magnificent Library through a large glass window, the Library Exhibition Gallery is a very suitable space for presentations, gala dinners or receptions.


A charismatic space that communicates with the inner courtyard of a block of houses from Barcelona’s Eixample, equipped with seats and a garden area. It is ideal as a special venue for small concerts, cocktails or open-air dinners. Since the reopening of the Fundació following the rehabilitation of the building, this new space contains the work by Antoni Tàpies Mitjó (maquette, 1991; sculpture, 2010).


Luminous space that complements the Auditorium.

Museum Shop[edit]

The Fundació Antoni Tàpies Museum Shop stocks a wide range ofpublications by and about Antoni Tàpies and his work. It also has thepublications produced by the Foundation on the occasion of the projects that have been held at the museum since 1990, and a collection of books related to the current exhibition. Moreover there are a series of exclusive gift articles, carefully chosen and made, with applications of graphics by Antoni Tàpies; a selection of his graphic work and posters; postcards and stationery with Foundation designs.

General Information[edit]


C/Aragó 255

08007 Barcelona (t) +34 934 870 315 (f) +34 934 870 009

Access for disabled visitors[edit]

Entrance by left lateral door to an elevator that allows access to all the levels.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°23′30″N 2°09′49″E / 41.39167°N 2.16361°E / 41.39167; 2.16361