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Antoni Tàpies
  • Artist (1923 - 2012)

The Catalan painter Antoni Tàpies (1923-2012), born in Barcelona, was one of the most unusual and influential of all the postwar Spanish artists. He was the painter of dense, shredded paint, in whose depth he incorporated signs, objects and imprints. It was after abandoning his law studies in 1943 that he gave free rein to his artistic calling. The highly controlled compositions which he produced at that time with the help of coarse pastes and humble materials, such as board, rags, paper, earth and string, foreshadowed the plastic vocabulary which would govern his approach and mark his break with traditional pictorial techniques. His temporary attachment to Surrealism, and the considerable influence on his canvases of Joan Miro, Paul Klee and Max Ernst, overlapped with the time he spent with the magazine Dau al Set, which he founded in 1948 with five other painters and critics, and which closed down in 1951.The paint-matter of his early days became more radical in the early 1950s when he arrived in Paris and discovered Informal Art. He returned to impastos, collages, and stencils, and worked on tearings, imprints, the use of sand, dust, pigments and marble powder incorporated in oil and latex (Negro y ocre, 1955). The many different looks obtained, and the irregular surfaces informed by all sorts of accidents, referred to his quest for an aesthetic stripped of all decorative effect, in works halfway between the object and the picture. Through their political involvement as well as their concern for aesthetic broadening, Tàpies’s works, pictures, sculptures (Monument à Picasso, 1983) and prints in limited editions, all marked the history of art of the latter half of the 20th century. In 1990 he created the Fondation Tàpies in Barcelona, at once an exhibition venue and a research centre. Tàpies was also the author of several books about art, including La Pratique de l’art (1974), L’Art contre l’esthétique (1978) and La Réalité comme art (1989.)