Antoni Tàpies (Spanish, 1923–2012) was a Catalan painter best known for his use of unusual materials to create paintings with a wall-like appearance. Born in Barcelona, he was encouraged at a young age to develop an interest in literature and the arts, and while studying law at Barcelona University, he started taking night classes in drawing at the Academia Valls. Two years later, in 1946 Tàpies abandoned his studies to pursue an artistic career. With the exception of some drawing classes, Tàpies was a self-taught artist, his early works mimicking the styles of Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh.

In 1948, he became one of the founding members of the Dau al Set avant-garde coalition of writers and artists who turned to Surrealism as a way of resisting the conservative aesthetic promoted by the Franco regime. After producing Surrealist-influenced works for several years, Tàpies’ works in the 1950s became increasingly Abstract and aligned with the Art Informel movement. These mature works are profoundly original in their use of obscure materials like marble dust and clay, which added texture. His 1979 essay, Nothing is Mean, defended his elevation of base materials into art objects, becoming an influential document of 20th century avant-garde art. Tàpies experimented with many media and techniques, and earned an international reputation as one of the most original artists of the 20th century.

Timeline

1923
Born in Barcelona, Spain
1944–1946
Studied Law at the Law University of Barcelona, Spain
1950
Awarded a scholarship by the French government, spent one year in Paris, France
1951
Won the Academia Breve Prize, Barcelona, Spain
1953
Won the Sao Paulo Biennale Prize, Sao Paulo, Brazil
1958
Won the Carnegie Institute First Prize, Pittsburgh, PA
1964
Won the Guggenheim Foundation Prize, New York, NY
1972
Won the Rubens Prize of Siegen, Germany
1983
Received the Gold Medal from the Catalan Government, Spain
1992
Became member of the Royal Academy of Arts, London, Uk and of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, MA
1993
Was awarded the Leone d'Oro, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Exhibitions

2012
Tàpies, Image, Body, Pathos, Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland (solo)
2012
Antoni Tàpies, The Collection, # 2, Fundacion Antoni, Tàpies, Barcelona, Spain (solo)
2012
Antoni Tàpies, The Collection, # 3. Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, Spain (solo)
2012
Antoni Tàpies, Fundación Cristino de Vera, Tenerife (solo)
2011
Antoni Tàpies, Galerie Lelong, Paris, France (solo)
2010
Antoni Tàpies, Obra Gráfica, Galería de Fernando Santos, Portugal (solo)
2010
Antoni Tàpies, Mira la mà... Fundació Palau, Centre d’art, Caldes d’Estrac, Spain (solo)
2010
Antoni Tàpies, Collection, Fundacion Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, Spain (solo)
2010
Antoni Tàpies, Waddington Galleries, London, UK (solo)
2010
Antoni Tàpies, Galeria Toni Tàpies, Barcelona, Spain (solo)
2010
Antoni Tàpies, Museo delle Arti Catanzaro (MARCA), Catanzaro, Italy (solo)
2009
Antoni Tàpies, The Resources of Rhetoric, Dia Beacon, New York, USA (solo)
2008
Kunstmuseum, St. Gallen, Switzerland
2006
Waddington Galleries, London, UK
2004
Tàpies. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain (solo)
Antoni Tàpies: Una arquitectura de lo visible, Fundación Marcelino Botín, Santander, Spain (solo)
Antoni Tàpies. Retrospectiva, MACBA, Barcelona, Spain (solo)
2003
Tàpies. Werke auf Papier 1943-2003, Kunsthalle in Emden, Emden, Germany (solo)
Antoni Tàpies. Cos i llenguatge, Fundació Antoni Tàpies i Diputació de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain (solo)
L'univers obert d'Antoni Tàpies, Centre d'Art la Panera, Lleida, Spain (solo)
Galerie Lelong, Paris, France (solo)
Galeria Toni Tàpies, Barcelona, Spain (solo)
Pace Wildenstein, New York, NY (solo)
Waddington Galleries, London, UK (solo)
Galería Soledad Lorenzo, Madrid, Spain (solo)
2002
Musée Picasso, Antibes, France (solo)
Centro Cultural de Cascais, Fundação D. Luís I, Cascais, Portugal (solo)
Galería Elvira González, Madrid, Spain (solo)
Sala de Cultura García Castañón, Caja Navarra, Pamplona, Spain (solo)
Sala de Exposiciones Ignacio Zuloaga, Fuendetodos, Spain (solo)
Musée de Millau, Millau, France (solo)
Galeria Fernando Santos, Lisboa, Portugal (solo)
2000
Retrospectiva, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain (solo)
Galerie Biedermann, Munich, Germany
1998
Galerie Biedermann, Munich, Germany
1996
Face à l'Histoire. L'artiste moderne devant l'événement historique, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
1995
Kunsthandel Wolfgang Werner KG, Berlin, Germany
1994
Galerie Biedermann, Munich, Germany
1992
Retrospective, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (solo)
1990
Retrospective, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (solo)
Galerie Biedermann, Munich, Germany
1987
Le Siècle de Picasso, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France
1985
Retrospective, Museum voor Moderne Kunst Brussels, Belgium (solo)
1981
Galerie Biedermann, Munich, Germany
1980
Retrospective, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (solo)
1976
Galerie Biedermann, Munich, Germany
1974
Soft-art. Weich und Plastisch, Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland
Retrospective, Nationalgalerie Berlin, Berlin, Germany (solo)
1970
Selections from the Guggenheim Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
1967
Vom Bauhaus bis zur Gegenwart, Kunstverein Hamburg, Germany
1965
Retrospective, Institute of Contemporary Art, London, UK (solo)
40 Key Artists of the Mid-20th Century, Institute of Art Detroit, MI
1962
Retrospective, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (solo)
1961
New Europeans, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX
1960
New Spanish Painting and Sculpture, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
1958
XXIX Biennale Internazionale d'Arte, Venice, Italy
1955
The Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting, Department of Fine Arts, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA

Public Collections

Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Bilbao, Spain
Städel Museum, Frankfurt, Germany
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS
Tate Gallery, London, UK
Reina Sofía National Museum, Madrid, Spain
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
Museu d'Art Contemporani, Barcelona, Spain
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Trento, Italy
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan