In Memoriam: Antoni Tąpies, Spanish Abstract Painter
Posted by Larry / to Artwork, Artists, Art World / on February 20, 2012

Antoni Tąpies, Spanish Abstract Painter, Dies at 88

Antoni Tąpies, a largely self-taught Spanish abstract painter whose seductive tactile surfaces, often scratched with mysterious graffiti-like marks, made use of unconventional materials like marble dust, ground chalk, sand and earth, died on Monday in Barcelona. He was 88.

His death was announced in New York by Douglas Baxter, the president of the Pace Gallery, which has represented Mr. Tąpies since 1992.

Mr. Tąpies (pronounced TAH-pea-ess) came to prominence in the late 1940s with richly symbolic paintings strongly influenced by Surrealist painters like Miró and Klee, a style he abandoned by the mid-1950s as he turned to what became his signature work: the heavily built-up surfaces that were often scratched, pitted and gouged and incised with letters, numbers and signs.

Using a wide variety of materials, on canvases and boards that often suggested walls, doors, windows or gates, he grounded his work in the brute reality of the Spanish street and in the turbulent political dramas of his youth in Catalonia, including the Spanish Civil War and the Catalan nationalist movement.

“The dramatic sufferings of adults and all the cruel fantasies of those of my own age, who seemed abandoned to their own impulses in the midst of so many catastrophes, appeared to inscribe themselves on the walls around me,” he told the French dealer and art critic Michel Tapié (no relation) in 1969. “My first works of 1945 already had something of the graffiti of the streets and a whole world of protest — repressed, clandestine, but full of life — a life which was also found on the walls of my country.”

The rich, painterly textures and sober use of color in his “matter paintings” lent a moving solemnity — the critic John Russell referred to their “seignorial dignity” — to works that “seemed to have been not so much painted as excavated from an idiosyncratic compound of mud, sand, earth, dried blood and powdered minerals.”

Mr. Tąpies chafed at being characterized as an abstract painter. At the same time, he refused to explicate the tantalizing scratches, letters and crosses that seemed to offer the viewer a text. His dreamlike symbols, fished from the soup of the unconscious, suggested an ancient language waiting to be deciphered, but Mr. Tąpies declined to assist. READ MORE

 

Grand Image's TL Lange was greatly inspired by the work of Mr. Tąpies, "I like the imperfection in his work" Lange used to say in many of the conversations we used to have about art & influences.

Antoni Tąpies

TL Lange, LTOC-432

More Links:

  1. Spain mourns death of Catalan painter, sculptor Antoni Tapies, top contemporary art figure The Washington Post, 7 February, 2012
  2. William Grimes (February 6, 2012), Antoni Tąpies, Spanish Abstract Painter, Dies at 88 New York Times.
  3. Obituary on BBC Radio 4's Last Word http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01bmq2z#p00p89w8
  4. Antoni Tąpies MoMA Collection, New York.

 

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