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Antoni Tàpies in full: a great anthology celebrates the centenary of his birth

2024-02-20T19:12:37.042Z

Highlights: Antoni Tàpies in full: a great anthology celebrates the centenary of his birth. The Reina Sofía brings together 220 works from museums and private collections around the world. Curated by Manuel Borja-Villel, it will remain open from the 21st from February to June 24. It will then travel to the Fundació Antoni TàPies in Barcelona and will be exhibited there from July 19 to January 12, 2025. This exhibition had a “prequel” last fall at the Palace of Fine Arts in Brussels (Bozar) with about 120 paintings.


The Reina Sofía brings together 220 works from museums and private collections around the world in a large exhibition curated by Manuel Borja-Villel


Before starting a work, Antoni Tàpies (Barcelona, ​​1923-2012) followed the same ritual.

With the support extended on the ground, the artist slowly rotated in a circular manner in both directions.

When he stopped, it was the signal that he was already clear about the composition and that the time had come to smooth the boards or stretch cardboard, play with marble dust, prepare colors or classify materials.

The material chosen depended on the stage of the different stages of a career that lasted for almost 70 years and during which he made around 9,000 pieces.

Now, when the centenary of his birth has just passed (on December 13), the Reina Sofía inaugurates

Antoni Tàpies.

The practice of art

, the most complete exhibition that has been dedicated to it to date, with 220 works from museums and private collections around the world, made between 1943 and 2012. Curated by Manuel Borja-Villel, it will remain open from the 21st from February to June 24.

It will then travel to the Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona and will be exhibited there from July 19 to January 12, 2025. This exhibition had a “prequel” last fall at the Palace of Fine Arts in Brussels (Bozar) with about 120 paintings.

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Antoni Tàpies, a dazzling artist

The last major retrospective dedicated to Tàpies in this museum was in 2000, with José Guirao as director of the center and Mariano Rajoy as Minister of Culture.

Then the artist could be seen, always accompanied by Teresa Barba, his wife, walking among the almost one hundred works on display.

The severe back discomfort that he already suffered did not prevent him from making an effort to talk slowly about some of his most relevant works.

The curator at that time was Manuel Borja-Villel, the expert who best knows the work of the Catalan artist.

Not only did he direct the foundation between 1990 and 1998, but he considers himself another member of the Tàpies family, since he lived and worked with them for many years.

It was a friendship that began in 1985, when Borja-Villel wrote to the artist to allow him to write a thesis on his work.

The relationship between the two lasted until the end of Tàpies' life.

'The Catalan Spirit' (1971), another of the works exhibited in the museum.

Claudio Alvarez

A man observes the work 'Celebració de la mel' by Tàpies, exhibited in the large exhibition dedicated to the author at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid.Claudio Álvarez

One of the rooms of the exhibition dedicated to Antoni Tàpies in the Reina Sofía museum.Claudio Álvarez

View of the work 'Pila de plats' at the presentation of the large exhibition dedicated to Antoni Tàpies at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid.Claudio Álvarez

One of the rooms in the exhibition, with 'Cadira i Rob' in the center of the image.

Claudio Alvarez

Several paintings that are part of the large exhibition dedicated to Antoni Tàpies at the Reina Sofía National Art Center Museum.Claudio Álvarez

The work 'Caixa de la camisa rojo' (1972), exhibited in the exhibition dedicated to Tàpies at the Reina Sofía museum.Claudio Álvarez

A woman passes by the work 'Porta metàl·lica i violí', during the presentation of the exhibition dedicated to Antoni Tàpies.

Claudio Alvarez

DVD 1201 (02/20/24) Presentation of the large exhibition dedicated to Antoni Tàpies at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Manuel Borja-Villel, curator of the exhibition © Claudio ÁlvarezClaudio Álvarez

The

Antoni Tàpies exhibition.

The practice of art

extends through most of the space dedicated to temporary exhibitions on the fourth floor of the Sabatini building.

In an exclusive tour with Borja-Villel held last Friday, the man who was director of the Reina Sofía between January 2008 and January 2023 says that throughout his life he has curated five exhibitions dedicated to the Barcelona artist.

There has never been a repetition, although all of them share the essence of an artist who is among the most important in European art of the second half of the 20th century.

Borja-Villel believes that Tàpies is first an artist and then a magician in the sense that he wanted to transform society with his painting.

Characterized as a magician he is painted in some of the many self-portraits that he took in the early days of his career.

The tour through the exhibition is chronological and linked to thematic circles that have to do with each of his vital and artistic stages.

The novel thesis proposed by the former director of the Reina is that Tàpies worked with the idea of ​​environment, that his work has to be seen as a whole, not in isolation.

Each of these stages or circles tries to be a mirror of the successive studies that he used throughout his career.

The title,

The Practice of Art

, is the same one that the painter gave in 1970 to the first compilation of his writings.

The first circle includes part of his first works, made between 1946 and 1950. The formats of this stage are, in general, small, except for

Triptych

(1949), a painting that contains his approaches to surrealism and projects his deep existential concerns.

In front of this famous canvas, the curator says that Tàpies did not usually title his works nor did he like to give explanations about the contents.

He only broke this rule when the gallery owner's insistence was great and the argument was that the cataloging of a painting should have as much data as possible.

In those cases he resorted to titles that brooked no doubt as to their meaning:

Matèria en forma de peu

(1965),

Matèria en forma de aixella

(1968) or

En forma de cadira

(1968).

He signed the works on the back of the painting.

He also did not usually take care of the frames because he did not give importance to the packaging, although this rule also has some exceptions, such as the frame that he himself made for a self-portrait from 1948 that he gave to Teresa, who was his girlfriend at the time.

Each corner of the frame bears a T, the initial of his fiancée's name.

The artist used to play with some letters in his paintings: the A for Antoni, the M for death or the X for mystery, among others.

View of the work 'Wood with a T-shirt' during the presentation this Tuesday.

at the Reina Sofía in Madrid.Claudio Álvarez

Brushes and violins

As you move through the circles that make up the exhibition, you reach two large rooms in which large-format works begin to appear.

They are the material works in which he paints the canvases with colored marble dust.

The canvas can be replaced by a blind or any other material that allows the inclusion of a violin, a brush or any object that the artist sees fit for his speech.

Some of the works from this circle were in the Spanish pavilion in several editions of the Venice Biennale or were part of international exhibitions in Paris, London or New York.

In the latter city he signed with the powerful Martha Jackson and in Paris with Rodolphe Stadler and Maeght.

At this stage, a boom also begins in the market that, according to Borja-Villel, has not suffered any downturns.

It is also a stage in which the artist matures as a man.

He married Teresa Barba in 1954 and later their three children were born: Antoni, Clara and Miguel.

When the commissioner is asked about the type of person Antoni Tàpies was, he responds that he was someone very cultured.

He very dedicated to reading, music and reflection.

He was delicate in his dealings, but with a strong character and very good relations with his fellow artists, although he was a homely man who did not like parties too much.

The curator adds that Tàpies had broad tastes in the art world, but if he had to point out an important reference, he would speak first of Marcel Duchamp and would mark his Spanish artistic roots as El Greco and Zurbarán.

With an entire life dedicated to the experiment, Tàpies was no stranger to anything that was happening around him.

“Art is never self-absorbed.

For him, a work does not end in itself, but rather continues with what precedes and happens to it, and with what surrounds it,” details the curator.

Among the works that refer to recent dramas, attention is drawn to the figure wrapped in a shroud that emerged in 1993. Tàpies exhibited alongside Cristina Iglesias in the Spanish pavilion of the Venice Biennale, a space from which they could hear the bombings of the war of the former Yugoslavia.

The painting, titled

Dukkha

(1995), refers to lament, a fundamental concept in Buddhist philosophy.

A man walks near a work during the presentation of the great exhibition dedicated to Antoni Tàpies.Claudio Álvarez

Love for Catalonia

Anti-Franco and a deep democrat, Tàpies was born into a bourgeois family in Barcelona closely linked to Catalan nationalism.

The display cases of the exhibition display information about the democratic struggles of that time and the participation of the young Antoni Tàpies in the demonstrations.

A press clipping shows how the Civil Guard fines and removes the white

Mercedes

in which the artist had traveled to the demonstration.

There are several works that are exhibited in which the trace of his Catalan sentiment, not independence, is collected.

One of the most striking examples is

L'esperit catalá

(1971), on loan from the museum of the University of Navarra.

Made with marble dust on albero board, it contains several mottos that speak of his immense love for Catalonia.

In the same space you can see

Tribute to the memory of Salvador Puig Antich

(1974).

With a simple piece of black wool and a piece of colored cardboard, it evokes the pain of the execution of the young anti-fascist.

The exhibition closes with works full of pain and melancholy due to his physical decline and the end of the utopias he had pursued.


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Source: elparis

All life articles on 2024-02-20

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