Giacometti 1

© Teresa Tàpies Domènech

Antoni Tàpies: Texture and Image

Location: Second-floor gallery On View: December 14, 2012 – March 18, 2013

On view in the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art second-floor gallery December 14, 2012 through March 18, 2013,  Antoni Tàpies: Texture and Image is a focused exhibition of 23 works from the Bechtler collection. Only two of the works have been on view at the Bechtler. The other works have not been previously viewed by American audiences.

Spanish artist Antoni Tàpies worked primarily in abstract formal language and was part of the early movement to bring a sense of texture, surface and thickness to the application of various media. He was born in Barcelona in 1923 and died in 2012.  Growing up, Tàpies was encouraged to take an interest in cultural matters. During his youth, he developed a love for books that would have a large impact on his future as an artist. After abandoning his study of law in the mid-1940s, he committed himself more fully to art and painting, and developed an interest in the use of collage and grattage. He made friends with leading figures of the Catalan literary avant-garde who encouraged his art. He exhibited for the first time in 1947 at a salon in Barcelona and the next year co-founded the progressive arts magazine Dau al Set.

In the 1950s Tàpies started working in the art informel style, and his works moved more fully into abstraction. He began working with new materials, which led to his creation of “matter paintings.” In these works, the materials were no longer used to express an idea, but instead became the idea. He combined unconventional materials such as marble dust, sand, ground chalk and dirt to great effect. He took abstraction to a new level by including iconographic and symbolic subjects in his paintings through the use of writing, signs, symbols and references to Catalan political issues. A depiction of the cross, the number 4 and the letter x were all common symbols in his work. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, Tàpies’s work was increasingly political brought on by his opposition to Spain’s dictatorship. The country’s return to democracy in 1975 allowed Tàpies to focus on new artistic opportunities, but he never abandoned his focus on the transcendence of his materials and the expressive qualities of his work.

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