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Biography

Antoni Tàpies i Puig was a Spanish painter, graphic artist and sculptor. He was considered the most important artist of the Informel in his country.

From 1946 onwards, the artist, inspired by Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso, devoted himself entirely to painting and from the same year, influenced by the works of Miró, Max Ernst and Paul Klee, he turned at times to Surrealism. In 1947 he met the Catalan poet Josep Vicenç Foix, with whom Tàpies exchanged ideas in the following years due to common artistic interests. In the same year he met Joan Brossa and Joan Prats and other members of the former ADLAN (Amics de l'Art Nou), who supported him in his artistic work. In 1948, together with other artists, including Brossa, he founded the group Dau al Set and an art magazine under the same name. In the same year he took part in the "Salón de Octubre" in his native town.

A one-year scholarship in Paris in 1950 brought him into contact with the lively art scene of the French capital and thus new impulses, such as Marxism and social realism. Here he encountered informal painting, got to know Jean Dubuffet and his Art Brut and reduced his artistic means to what was essential to him. At the same time he expanded his artistic spectrum by integrating everyday objects into his paintings, modelling textures of sand, paint and marble dust. Religious symbols as well as magical elements can also be found in his work.

In 1951 Tàpies visited Pablo Picasso in his Parisian studio in the Rue des Grands Augustins, where he met Christian Zervos and Jaime Sabartés. In the spring of the same year he travelled to Belgium and the Netherlands. In 1955 he travelled again to Paris to meet the poet and critic Édouard Jaguer and Michel Tapié, who published Tàpié's first catalogue of his oeuvre in 1956. The following year he travelled to Italy, where he visited Verona, Padua and Venice. In that year he visited Switzerland for the first time. Back in Paris, he met Roland Penrose and Lee Miller in 1957, and in 1958, during a solo exhibition of the artist's work at the Galleria dell'Arieta in Milan, organized by the poet and art critic Jacques Dupin. Furthermore, he met the artists Lucio Fontana and Emilio Scanavino, as well as Luigi Nono, Nuria Schönberg, a daughter of Arnold Schönberg, Emilio Vedova, Will Grohmann, Alberto Burri and Marcel Duchamp, who was a member of the jury for the awarding of prizes to Tàpies, presented by the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in 1958. In 1959 Tàpies traveled to New York City, where he had a solo exhibition at the Martha Jackson Gallery, and met the painters Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, the architect Hans Hoffmann, and the caricaturist Saul Steinberg.

In 1962, Tàpies attended the Peace Congress in Moscow, which is dedicated to continuing the ideas of the philosopher and activist Bertrand Russell. He spent the summer months in St. Gallen in Switzerland, where he painted a large number of large murals for the city's new university. In 1963, together with Joan Brossa, he published El pa a la banca, a collector's book for which he had made twenty-four lithographic collages. A long relationship with the Galerie im Erker in St. Gallen, which hosted a solo exhibition of his works that year, was to follow. Here he often met Eugène Ionesco, Friedrich Dürrenmatt and Hans Hartung as well as others. In 1965, Tàpies produced thirty-six lithographs for the collector's book Nouvel-la, which was produced in collaboration with Brossa.

He participated in the exhibitions Collage and Constructions. 4 Internationals: Burri, Nevelson, Tàpies, Van Leyden at the Martha Jacksons Gallery in New York City and the exhibition Weiss-Weiss organized by the Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf, together with, among others, Joseph Beuys, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Piero Manzoni, Jean Tinguely and Günther Uecker. In 1966 he took part in a secret meeting at the Capuchin monastery in Sarrià, a district of Barcelona, where students and intellectuals discussed the founding of the first democratic university fraternity since the end of the Spanish Civil War. Together with the other participants, Tàpies was arrested by the police and, after several days in prison, was sentenced to a fine, which was ratified by the Spanish Supreme Court in 1971. In 1967, Tàpies traveled to Paris for the opening of his first solo exhibition at Galerie Maeght, with which he would also develop a close relationship over many years. At the end of the year he was represented in the group exhibition Dix ans d'art vivant, organised by the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence.

The following year he produced a series of lithographs for the book La clau del fauc, which includes a preface and selected texts by Pere Gimferrer, and participated, along with other artists, in the book L'Émerveillé merveilleuse, in homage to Joan Miró. In 1974, at the Maeght Gallery in Paris, he exhibited the series Assasins, lithographs motivated by the political situation in Spain and in particular by the execution of the Catalan anarchist Salvador Puig Antich. In 1975, he contributed a lithograph and a poster to a campaign by civil legal entities campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty in Spain. He also took part in various actions organised by the opposition of the Franco regime in favour of an amnesty for political prisoners and in actions for the definitive return of democratic peace.

In 1976 Tàpies travelled to Saint-Paul-de-Vence, where he attended the opening of his retrospective at the Fondation Maeght, which was subsequently shown at the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona. During 1977, Tàpies produced several posters for various cultural and urban events and participated with Rafael Alberti in the collectors' book Retornos de lo vivo lejano. The following year he traveled to New York City, where an exhibition of his works was held at the Martha Jackson Gallery, and visited Robert Motherwell at his home in Greenwich, Connecticut. The Argentinean writer Julio Cortázar wrote the text 'Grafitti' for the catalogue of this year's exhibition at the Maeght Gallery. Together with Alexander Mitscherlich, Tàpies contributed to his book Sinnieren über Schmutz and produced eight engravings for Petrificado petrificante, a collector's book with poems by Octavio Paz.

In 1981, Tàpies created his first ceramic sculptures in Saint-Paul de Vence with the support of the German ceramist Hans Spinner and made the first sketches for a monumental sculpture in honor of Pablo Picasso, commissioned by the city of Barcelona. This year he also contributed to various collectors' books, such as Anular, together with José-Miguel Ullán; Tàpies répliquer, together with Jean Daive; and La pierre touant le sense mais, plus tard, le ciel au fond de l'entaille, together with the French poet Yves Bonnefoy.

Although Tàpies was acknowledged as one of the great artists of the last century and as a great genius of abstraction, he always saw himself as a simple amateur and, contrary to the opinion of many art critics, not as an abstract artist, but as a realist who sees his work as an attempt to understand reality and to present it to the viewer. Only his surrealist and Dadaist phase saw Tapies self-critically, which robbed him of his spontaneity.