Antoni Tàpies

Antoni Tàpies
Relleu negre per a Documenta, 1964
Ecriture sur le mur, 1971
Relleu negre per a Documenta, 1964
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Antoni Tàpies
Relleu negre per a Documenta, 1964

Black Relief for the Documenta
Mixed media on canvas, 275 x 230 cm
Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel

Painted in the grim climate of the Franco dictatorship, this grey-black painting resembles a dark, charred wall (Tàpies describes it as a “relief”) which does more than merely appear to be made of paint, sand, ash and silence. At any rate, Black relief for the documenta is more than just a painted background on which a proficient artist has left traces in paint – be it with a brush or as ‘drippings’ à la Pollock. Instead, Tàpies has chosen to make marks by scratching into the body of the painted surface. In their archaic simplicity they may be read as purely abstract markings – or as lines that distinguish a floor from two walls and a ceiling, delineating a corner whose blackness holds us inescapably captive.

Ecriture sur le mur, 1971
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Antoni Tàpies
Ecriture sur le mur, 1971

Graffiti on the Wall
Mixed media on canvas, 270 x 200 cm
Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel

In Graffiti on the wall, masterful elegance has joined the archaic speechlessness of the Fondation’s earlier work by Tàpies. Rich structures meet the eye, evidence of scratched, painted, blurred endeavour. Here, the wall yields a harvest of traces that suggest the presence of people, the chronicle of human lives as recorded by the artist who, following in Klee’s and Miró’s footsteps, is capable of reading and – acting in our stead – articulating them.

Antoni Tàpies
Antoni Tàpies

1923, Barcelona - 2012, Barcelona

The Catalan painter, printmaker and sculptor is regarded as the leading Spanish exponent of Art Informel. Numerous awards and prestigious exhibitions – including documenta III (1964) – testify to his international standing. While his early work was influenced by Joan Miró and Paul Klee, Tàpies later began to paint completely black and grey compositions that sometimes incorporated fragmentary elements of everyday objects, often in a state of decay and with an emphasis on their material texture. Tàpies deliberately employs materials such as thick impasto paint, sand, wood and paper to add surface texture and heighten the pictorial expression of his works.

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