Antoni Tàpies

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Antoni Tàpies

Antoni Tàpies

[Spanish Abstract Expressionist Painter, born in 1923]

• Browse all: Spanish artists
Paintings in Museums and Public Art Galleries:
Guggenheim Berlin

1923 Born in Barcelona

1944 Renounces his law studies at the University of Barcelona to devote himself to painting

1945 First experiments with dense materials by mixing oil paint with whiting

1946 Realizes abstract paintings, showing his fundamental interest in everyday materials and collage techniques

1948 Co-founder of the magazine Dau al Set. Becomes more and more interested in Surrealism, psychoanalysis and modern natural sciences

Makes his first etchings


Drawing on Marxist ideas and reacting to the political situation in Spain, realizes numerous paintings concerning social questions

1953 After eight years he again works with dense materials, using soil, collages and carvings

1962 Retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and at the Kunsthaus Zürich

1970 Makes a great variety of object-sculptures

1974 L'art contra l'estètica, a summary of the artist's writings, is published, followed by Memòria personal (1978), La realitat com a art (1982), Per un art modern i progressista (1985) and El arte y sus lugares (1999)

1981 Works on his first ceramic sculptures in Saint-Paul-de-Vence

1984 Foundation of The Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona

1990 Retrospective at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid and at he Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona

1993 Receives the Golden Lion award of the 45th Biennal of Venice

1994 Retrospective at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris

1995 Retrospektive im Guggenheim Museum SoHo, New York

2000 Retrospective at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid

The stature of Eduardo Chillida and Antoni Tàpies as artists of historical significance transcends the boundaries of their homeland, Spain, while their work remains informed by their national and local identities. Chillida, born in San Sebastian in 1924, uses iron and stone culled from the Basque region to create sculpture of great strength and serenity. TBpies's paintings, infused with humble materials such as sand and straw, derive their power from the artist's experiences of Civil War in Barcelona, where he was born in 1923. This exhibition, drawn primarily from the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York with significant additions from generous private and public lenders, features examples of how these preeminent artists transform the specifics of personal, political, and intellectual history into evocative works of abstraction.

Eduardo Chillida studied architecture from 1943 to 1947 at the University of Madrid before leaving to pursue his interest in painting. In 1948 he moved to Paris where he turned to sculpture. His contemporaries in post World War II Paris - artists and architects including Le Corbusier, Jose Luis Sert, Jean Arp, and Isamu Noguchi - were engaged in a debate that had begun in the pre-war philosophies of the Bauhaus and De Stijl, the relationship and ultimate unity of the arts. Striving for ways that painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and literature, could be connected in theory and form, these visionary artists produced work that challenged traditional categories and boundaries.
Through the years the materials Chillida has turned to inform his investigations of conceptual questions and metaphysical concerns. Upon returning to the Basque country in 1951, Chillida soon abandoned the plaster he used in his Paris works - a medium suited to his study of archaic figurative works in the Louvre - in favor of iron, then wood and steel. These materials represent Basque traditions in industry, architecture and agriculture, as well as the landscape and "black light" of the region. Even later his fired clay works from the 1970s reference the forms of Basque houses that can be seen throughout the countryside. Transforming his ideas about space into abstract material form, Chillida realizes work that explores properties such as density, scale, rhythm, and limit.
Alabaster, for Chillida, is a medium without a direct connection to Basque tradition but nonetheless weighted by the history of sculpture. Several years after his 1963 travels to Greece, Rome, Umbria, Tuscany, and Provence and his studies of Medardo Rosso and Piero della Francesca, Chillida sought to capture a quality of light he had initially encountered in work at the Louvre. To approach the white light of Greece and the partial translucency of Rosso's wax portraits, Chillida uses alabaster. Its quality to shine from within, appearing illuminated but veiled, or as Matthias Barmann suggests, revealed and concealed simultaneously, is perhaps not, as on first appearance, so unlike the dark and foggy glow of the atmosphere of Chillida's homeland.

The generation of European artists emerging after World War II spoke to their experiences of the destruction and debris they observed. As youths, Antoni Tàpies, born and raised in Barcelona, and his Spanish peers, had additionally seen the devastation of their country by Civil War and then acutely felt the oppression of the reign of Generalismo Francisco Franco. Prohibitions and isolation weighed heavily on Tapies and his friends. They looked to Surrealism, the most radical of prewar movements, for inspiration and Tapies gives great significance to his contact with three older generation figures: poet Josep Vicenc Foix, editor Joan Prats and artist Joan Miro. The Surealist interest in the power and lyricism created by placing everyday object in unfamiliar settings, intrigued Tapies and in his earliest work, he began to experiment with collages made from found, humble materials, such as torn newspaper, string, tinfoil and cloth.

Like the Surrealists, Tapies also cultivated an interest in occultism and mysticism. He read the writings of Ramon Llull, the Catalan mystic known for his attention to alphabets, diagrams and signs. Drawing on these theories, Tapies would included markings -- cross and X forms, circles, letters -- in his work. For Tapies these signs are not specific symbol, but undefined, expansive points for the viewers associations.
In the 1950s Tapies visited Paris for a time, and then New York, encountering artists working in gestural modes known as Art Informel and Abstract Expressionism. Tachisme, from the French word tache meaning stain or blot, was used to describe a type of Art Informel, and Tapies was labeled a Taschiste because of the rich texture and pooled color that seemed to occur accidentally on his canvases. He began to work on more densely textured images that he thought of as walls of matter. By incorporating a myriad of matter - marble dust, whiting, hair, sand - into his paints, the canvases appear deceptively solid and concrete; they are transformative expanses where material substance is given perception and thought. Tapies approach to the surface of his paintings has not changed. He has maintained his interest in the accidental markings of chance and metamorphosis.

Eduardo Chillida and Antoni Tàpies are among the most important contemporary artists. Both of them are inspired by material like paper, alabaster and iron but also sand, tar or cotton out of they created a new, meaningful language of art.

1970 Antoni Tàpies stacked white China plates and called the piece "Pila de Plats". Inspired by this simple gesture, the Edition No. 20 for the exhibition "Eduard Chillida - Antoni Tàpies" combines two artist dishes, one from the Fundacion Tàpies, one from the Museo Chillida-Leku and invites you to a symposia of Spanish culture.

two china plates, printed drawing with signature,

in gift box.
Non limited Edition.

98 Euro

78,50 Euro (Club)
Guggenheim Museum, New York City

Great Painting, 1958. Mixed media on canvas, 78 1/2 x 103 inches. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 59.1551. Antoni Tàpies © 2003 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

In the years after World War II, both Europe and America saw the rise of predominantly abstract painting concerned with materials and the expression of gesture and marking. New Yorkers dubbed the development in the U.S. Abstract Expressionism [more], while the French named the pan-European phenomenon of gestural painting Art Informel [more] (literally ”unformed art“). A variety of the latter was Tachisme, from the French word tache, meaning a stain or blot. Antoni Tàpies was among the artists to receive the label Tachiste because of the rich texture and pooled color that seemed to occur accidentally on his canvases.

Tàpies reevaluates humble materials, things of the earth such as sand—which he used in Great Painting—and the refuse of humanity: string, bits of fabric, and straw. By calling attention to this seemingly inconsequential matter, he suggests that beauty can be found in unlikely places. Tàpies sees his works as objects of meditation that every viewer will interpret according to personal experience. ”What I do attempt,“ he maintains, ”is to create images that will cause the observer to look upon reality in a more contemplative way.“
These images often resemble walls that have been scuffed and marred by human intervention and the passage of time. In Great Painting, an ocher skin appears to hang off the surface of the canvas; violence is suggested by the gouge and puncture marks in the dense stratum. These markings recall the scribbling of graffiti, perhaps referring to the public walls covered with slogans and images of protest that the artist saw as a youth in Catalonia—a region in Spain that experienced the harshest repression of the dictator Francisco Franco. Tàpies has called walls the ”witnesses of the martyrdoms and inhuman sufferings inflicted on our people.“ Great Painting suggests the artist’s poetic memorial to those who have perished and those who have endured.
Jennifer Blessing

Museum of Modern Art, New York City
Antoni Tàpies. (Spanish, born 1923). Double page in-text plate (folios 15 and 16) from Anular by José-Miguel Ullán. 1981. Accordion folded etching, aquatint, carborudum, and photolighotphs, irreg composition: 12 5/8 x 15 5/8" (32.1 x 39.7 cm). Edition: 150. Printer: Atelier Morsang, Paris. Publisher: Éditions R.L.D. (Robert and Lydia Dutrou), Paris. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). © 2005 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Antoni Tàpies. (Spanish, born 1923). Chaises (Chairs). (1981). Carborundum, composition: 36 1/4 x 54 3/4" (92 x 139 cm); sheet: 36 5/8 x 54 3/4" (93 x 139 cm). Edition: 30. Publisher: Galerie Lelong, Paris. Printer: Joan Barbarà, Barcelona. Anonymous gift. © 2005 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh NEW!

Gris Violacé aux Rides [Violet Grey with Lines]1961
The wall is a recurring motif in Tàpies's work and he has related it to the high walls of the dark, narrow streets of his native Barcelona and Catalonia. He remarks: 'The image of the wall can contain countless suggestions. Separation, claustrophobia; wailing walls, prison walls; rejection of the world, contemplation, destruction of passion, silence, death...' Most of Tàpies’s paintings are black or grey and he even prefers to paint in closed rooms with all daylight blocked out. At the time this piece was painted, it would have formed a sharp contrast to the bright colours used in contemporary Pop Art.
* Accession no.GMA 2760

* MediumMixed media on canvas

* Size200.00 x 176.00 cm

* SubjectsNon-representational

* CreditPurchased 1983
Antoni Tàpies (Spanish)
born 1923
Tàpies was born in Barcelona. A self-taught artist, his early work was influenced by Surrealism but from 1953 he began to make abstract works in mixed media. He would 'paint' with a thick paste made of glue, marble dust, plaster and paint: a mixture that produced a substance resembling cement or volcanic lava. Tàpies was interested in exploring the physicality of his materials and also wished to challenge the accepted concept of ‘fine art’. He was strongly influenced by the art of the insane and by graffiti, and his work is often associated with the pessimism of the existentialist movement.
Städel Museum, Frankfurt

Great White with Bedframe (Grand blanc à la cage)

Great White with Bedframe (Grand blanc à la cage), 1965

Inv.No. SG 1253
Mixed media on canvas mounted on wood, 195 x 130 cm

In the Sixties, Tápies based his work on everyday objects like beds, chairs or wardrobes. However, these objects merely provided the Spanish artist with an excuse to use different materials. This piece is representative of his mixed media style and clearly shows how the tension between familiar objects and abstract shapes makes the observer mentally substitute what is merely hinted at. To this end Tápies employs optical as well as plastic means, resulting, as in Great White, in a grainy mixture of paint, sand, and marble dust held together by glue to create a surface relief protruding into the foreground.

Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Spain

Great Oval or Painting, ca.1955
Great Oval or Painting

c. 1955

Mixed media on canvas, 194.5 x 170 cm. Signed and dated in lower left corner and on back: Tàpies/1955
Acquired 1985
From the nineteen forties on, the use of objects and references taken from the outside world as a pretext for his own compositions has been a permanent feature of Antoni Tàpies’s art. The importance of materials of all shapes and sizes - anything from bits of waste stuff upwards - to his art became clear very early on. With Tàpies, matter and materials take pride of place, basically because he sees them as media with unlimited, infinite creative potential. And together with the treatment of the material used, a particularly important point in itself, a major consideration is the artist’s procedures and execution, the personal, exclusive way he addresses each work. The blots, stains, textures, smudges and signs that abound in his creations, or any other kind of action taken on the surface, automatically become a mode of expression and communication and the need to resort to visually representative transcriptions of an external reality disappears. Reality leaves its impress on the work itself, not outside it, in its visual representation, which would always be fictive.
“Great oval” has to be understood from this standpoint. The canvas is its own significant context; in other words, its significance lies in its own physical existence, its materials, its own reality-configurating structure. It is hardly surprising that material informalism should have adopted the main maxim of existential philosophy - “existence precedes essence” - as its own; it is material conceived as the prime, original reason. Matter is the fundamental expressive quality of the work; the accompanying chromatic sobriety and work done on textures, further enhance such expressiveness.

Céret Museum of Modern Art, France
Mural diptych


Enameled lava

300 x 400 cm

Mural diptych


Enameled lava

300 x 400 cm

Window - ochre on black


Mixed technique on canvas

64 x 50 cm



Mixed technique on paper

63 x 90 cm

Transformation n 6327


Ink and oil on raw canvas

300 x 500 cm

Essl Collection of Contemporary Art, Austria

Finestra sobre vermell, 1996

Fundación Telefónica, Chile (in Spanish)

Blau i dues creus, 1980

Técnica mixta sobre lienzo

( 206 x 146 cm. )



Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.

Black Composition, 1958

Antoni Tàpies

Spanish, born Barcelona, 1923

Black Composition, 1958

Oil and ground marble dust on canvas

25 3/4 x 32 in.

Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966 (66.4882 )

ntoni Tàpies

Spanish, born Barcelona, 1923

Pants and Woven Wire, 1973

Corduroy fabric, wire, yarn, wood, and painted wood.

82 x 66 3/8 in. (208.2 x 168.7 cm.)

Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland

Gris avec graphismes noirs / Grau mit schwarzen Zeichen , 1962

Öl mit Sand und anderen Materialien auf Leinwand

Höhe 195.5 cm | Breite 310.5 cm

Inv. H 1963.1

Emanuel Hoffmann-Stiftung, Depositum im Kunstmuseum Basel 1963

MUMOK - Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna

Komposition Nr. LXII

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Argentina (in Spanish)

Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona

Pintura, 1959

Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona

Pintura ocre, 1959

Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona

Rinzen, 1992

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain NEW!

Blackish Brown

Blackish Brown

Antoni Tàpies

(Barcelona, 1923)

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Reina Sofía National Museum, Madrid

"Gat i piramides"


Lápiz y tinta en Papel

46 x 54 cm

Reina Sofía National Museum, Madrid

6 works

Salas 34 y 35: Antoni Tàpies

Tàpies participó inicialmente en la actividad de Dau al Set y se decantó en torno a un personal Surrealismo. Después, y hasta 1963 aproximadamente, la materia se impone en su producción.
A finales de los años sesenta y principios de los setenta el artista se interesa por el mundo de los objetos cotidianos como fuente de inspiración artística. Existe en su obra una predilección por la utilización de las materias más humildes, relacionadas por lo general con las empleadas por el Arte povera.
En los años ochenta los especialistas perciben en su producción una vuelta a lo "pictórico". En sus cuadros la materia se hace más dfluida, se utilizan las transparencias y el colorido es más luminoso.
La actividad de Tàpies es incesante en todos los campos de la creación artística : pintura, escultura, obra gráfica, escritura o escenografía.

SALA 34:
"Superposición de materia gris"

"Superposición de materia gris"


Mixed media (óleo y cemento) sobre lienzo

197 x 263 cm

"Construcción con línea diagonal"


"Construcción con línea diagonal"


Óleo, arena y resina sobre lienzo adosado a un tablero de contrachapado

195 x 130 cm

"Gran llençol"


"Superposición de materia gris"


Mixed media (óleo y cemento) sobre lienzo

197 x 263 cm

SALA 35:
"Grand Livre" (díptico) (1)


"Grand Livre" (díptico) (1)


Mixed media en contrachapado 250 x 300 cm (c.u.)
"Gran Diptic" (2)


"Gran Diptic" (2)


Mixed media en contrachapado

300 x 400 cm (1)





Tierra chamoteada y esmalte

187 x 248 x 50 cm

Tate Gallery, London, UK

Grey and Green Painting 1957

Peinture grise et verte

Oil, epoxy resin and marble dust on canvas

support: 1140 x 1613 mm frame: 1183 x 1665 x 48 mm


Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1962

Tàpies developed a style that involved covering his canvases with a thick, highly textured base and incorporating into it materials such as clay and marble dust. To this, he added incised and scribbled lines, various lacerations and graffiti-like marks. He was fascinated by the contrast of different materials. He later wrote: 'My pictures became the truly experimental fields of battle... destruction led up to aesthetic tranquility.'

(From the display caption November 2005)
The Sieve 1972

Le Tamis

Intaglio print on paper

image: 654 x 892 mm

on paper, print

Purchased 1981

Cartography 1976


Intaglio print on paper

image: 560 x 843 mm

on paper, print

Purchased 1981

Pasted Cloth 1976

Tissu collé

Print and mixed media on paper

support: 632 x 908 mm

on paper, unique

Purchased 1981

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Iran

Blanche Tendue et Graphisme Noire
TAPIES, Antoni


Blanche Tendue et Graphisme Noire



140 cm x 95 cm

Telefónica Foundation Collection, Madrid

19 works

Una buena parte del Crucero y la práctica totalidad de la Sala Blanca están destinadas a recoger las obras que la Colección de Arte de Telefónica posee del insigne artista catalán Antoni Tàpies. Esta nutrida muestra presenta diez y siete ejemplos inscritos en importantes etapas de su evolución pictórica.

En el Crucero -y conviviendo con grades escultruas de Chillida mediante la división horizontal del ámbito visual en dos zonas- se encuentras seis grandes formatos agrupados por parentesco cronológico; tres de ellos realizados de 1962 a 1972 y los otros tres de 1982 a 1985.

Las restantes 11 obras -algunas tan "físicas" como el "Assemblage amb graffiti" y otras tan sugeridad com "Cal.ligrafía amb petjades", con la familiar presencia de significantes personalísimos de Tàpies, como son las cruces o los pies, se hallan instaladas en un espacio de gran neutralidad.

Cronología Biográfica


El día 13 de diciembre nace en Barcelona Antoni Tàpies. Es hijo del abogado Josep Tàpies i Mestres y de María Puig i Guerra. Su infancia transcurrió en un ambiente culturalmente activo por la amistad del padre con notables personajes de la vida pública catalana.

Empieza a interesarse por el dibujo y la pintura. Descubre el arte contemporáneo a través del número extraordinario de la revista "D'Aci i d'allà", coordinada por Josep-Lluis Sert y Joan Prats.


Durante la Guerra Civil Española trabaja por algunos meses en la Generalitat de Cataluña, donde su padre es asesor jurídico. Pinta y dibuja de forma autodidacta.

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