Antoni Tàpies (b. 1923, Barcelona; d. 2012, Barcelona) has for six decades refined a visual language inspired by a wide range of sources that coalesce into a complex fusion of materials, gestures, and symbols. His explorations of Surrealist imagery early in his career served as the foundation for an ongoing investigation of the nature of physical objects and their materiality. Tàpies’ work embodies his extensive personal experience and history, as well as that of his native Spain and specifically Catalonia. As Tàpies’ use of tangible materials for making art emphasize physical transformation, spiritual transformation is evoked through signs and symbols drawn from Eastern and Western cultures. Tàpies has participated in three Venice Biennale exhibitions (1952, 1954, 1958) prior to being selected to represent Spain at the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993, during which he was presented with the Biennale’s Award for Painting.
New York—Pace is pleased to announce Antoni Tàpies 1923–2012, the artist’s first exhibition in New York since his death in 2012. On view at 32 East 57th Street from February 12 to March 21, 2015, the exhibition will present paintings, sculpture and works on paper. A concurrent exhibition of the artist’s prints will be on view at Pace Prints from February 19 to March 21.
A new catalogue accompanying the exhibition will feature essays by Dore Ashton, Dan Cameron and Barbara Rose as well as an interview with the artist by Manuel J. Borja-Villel. These texts, all commissioned during Pace’s more than twenty-year relationship with Tàpies, will appear together for the first time in this new volume.
Pace’s exhibition coincides with Tàpies: From Within, a survey exhibition curated by former Tate Modern director Vicente Todolí that will be on view at the Pérez Art Museum Miami from February 6 to May 3, 2015.
In the nearly seven decades of his career, Tàpies created a prolific and singular body of work that redefined painting and influenced future generations of artists. Presenting work made between the 1960s and his death, this will be the first exhibition at Pace to span multiple decades of the twentieth-century master’s work.
Following the Spanish Civil War and World War II, Tàpies sought to develop a new kind of painting. In the 1950s he began making his first matter paintings using materials such as marble dust and resin. These paintings positioned Tàpies as a leading figure in Europe’s avant-garde and signaled the beginning of a lifelong investigation of materials and forms that made him one of the most influential postwar artists.
Symbols drawn from his Catalonian heritage and studies of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions recur across the artist’s work. Dan Cameron notes that these markings “proliferate as a kind of. . . handwriting, a way for Tàpies to make a mark in space which connects with the deepest human impulse to communicate through sign.”
For Tàpies, these markings and his handling of humble materials constitute what Barbara Rose describes as an act of consubstantiation. Describing the ritualistic dimension of the artist’s work, she writes that “the essential act for Tàpies is not depiction or representation but the transformation of matter into spirit.” She adds that for Tàpies, art’s purpose “is to alter and heighten consciousness, bringing us into contact in the most powerful way with reality, not as it is pictured but as it literally exists in time and space.
Antoni Tàpies (b. 1923, Barcelona; d. 2012, Barcelona) was a leading figure in Spain’s postwar art movement. The artist participated in multiple clandestine artist groups during the 1940s and early 1950s, including the influential Dau al Set that he cofounded in Barcelona; a decade later, he was briefly associated with Group Zero. In 1950, Tàpies had his first solo exhibition, and was hailed as a leading voice in Art Informel. In 1953, he had two solo exhibitions in the United States. In 1984, he established the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, which hosts symposia and rotating exhibitions as well as one of the largest collections of the artist’s work. Tàpies represented Spain at the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993, for which he was awarded the Golden Lion. His work was featured in three other exhibitions at the Venice Biennale between 1952 and 1967, as well as multiple editions of the Carnegie International and Documenta. Other important group exhibitions include New Spanish Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1960); Art and Utopia. Action Restricted, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2004); and Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949–1962, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2012–13).
Tàpies has been the subject of numerous one-artist exhibitions at venues including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1962, 1995); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (1974); The Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo (1976); Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (1977); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1980); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (1990, 2005); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1992); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (1993); Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris (1994); Museum of Contemporary Art, Kagawa (1996); Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2004); Dia Center for the Arts, Beacon, NY (2009); Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, Germany (2011); and Guggenheim Bilbao (2013).
His work is represented in nearly one hundred collections internationally such as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Galerie für Moderne Kunst, Hannover; Guggenheim Bilbao; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington; Kunstmuseum Basel; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; Moderna Museet, Stockholm;, Musée d’Arte Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Musée d’art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Internacional Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; The Panza Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Fine Art, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Nationalgalerie, Berlin; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Gallery, London; Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.
This exhibition is Tàpies’ ninth at Pace and first since his death in 2012.
Dore Ashton, Dan Cameron, Barbara Rose, interview with the artist by Manuel J. Borja-Villel
2015. Pace Gallery. Paperback
88 pages: 44 color illustrations; 9 ¾ x 9 inches