Antonio Tapies Biography

Antonio Tapies




Painter, sculptor, printmaker, and art theorist Antonio Tapies was born on December 13, 1923, in Barcelona, Spain. An early interest in art during led him to teach himself how to draw, as the influences of Spanish Modernists reigned during the Spanish Civil War. This era also helped form the young artist's identity as a Catalonian and would often address this political siding in his later works. Tapies formal education began with the pursuit of law at the German School of Barcelona, but by 1943 he began devoting more of his time to painting as well as the study of Eastern philosophy and the works of Sartre. In the late 1940s he learned the art of lithography and intaglio printmaking, and would go on to collaborate with a variety of writers to illustrate their works. In 1948 he co-founded the post-war avant-garde movement Dau al Set, which was heavily influenced by Dadaism and Surrealism, and allowed him to translate the existential component of his philosophical studies into visual representation.

By the early 1950s Tapies's style had turned toward Abstraction. He began creating multi-media works that incorporated paper waste, string, clay and marble dust, and other items into the "Informalist" painted works for which he would become best known. In 1950 he was awarded a scholarship to travel to Paris, where he met the French critic and curator Michel Tapie, with whom he formed a lasting friendship and working relationship. Tapies held his first solo show at the Galeries Laietanes in Barcelona in 1950 and by 1953 was exhibiting internationally, including at the Marshall Field Art Gallery in Chicago and the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York. In 1962 he was given a retrospective at the Guggenheim.

In the 1970s he began working with Galerie Maeght to publish several series of lithographs and his style now evolved to include elements of Pop Art. He took on larger sculptural pieces and installations. He established the Fundacio Antoni Tapies in Barcelona in 1984 for the study of modern and contemporary art, and in 2003 he was awarded the Velazquez prize, Spain's most prestigious honor. Tapies continued to work in Barcelona until his death in 2012.

Selected exhibitions:
1950: Galeries Laietanes, Barcelona (solo show); Carnegie International (Pittsburgh, PA)
1953: Marshall Field Art Gallery (Chicago); Martha Jackson Gallery (New York)
1962: Guggenheim, New York
1973: Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris (retrospective)
1977: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York (retrospecitve)
1994: Jeu de Paume, Paris (retrospective)
1998: Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover
2000: Pace Wildenstein, New York; Musee Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
2006: Anita Shapolsky, New York
2007: Pace Wildenstein, New York (solo)
2017: posthumous show, Nahmad Contemporary, New York, Tapies: Paintings, 1970 - 2003