May 31, 2009

Antoni Tàpies at Dia

I'm still in the Hudson River Valley after the opening at John Davis Gallery yesterday. Thanks Martin Bromirski, Maureen Burke, Tracy Helgeson, Chris Quirk, Amy Madden, Beth Gilfilen, and everyone else for making the trip. Today I'm headed to Dia:Beacon to see the Antoni Tàpies exhibition.

Tàpies was born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1923 into a family of booksellers and Catalan nationalist politicians, and during protracted periods of illness in his adolescence, he developed a serious interest in literature and drawing. In 1944, after abandoning law studies at Barcelona University, he began to work as an artist. Tàpies first exhibited his work in the late 1940s in Barcelona and had his first solo exhibition in 1950 at Galeries Laietanes, Barcelona. In 1953 he had his first NYC solo show at Martha Jackson Gallery. He first traveled abroad, to Paris, in 1951, where he met Picasso, and in 1953 he visited New York, where he met Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Hans Hofmann. In 1984, he established the Fundacio Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona.

 Antoni Tàpies, Palla i fusta, 1969, (Straw and Wood), assemblage on canvas, 150 x 116 cm

Comprising approximately twenty major large-scale works from the 1950s and 1960s, the show explores how Tàpies developed the language and signature iconography—informed by the political upheavals of his native Spain—that shaped his practice throughout his career. During the same period, he began to use unconventional materials and media, mixing traditional paints with such purposefully commonplace materials as sand, ash, marble powder, paper, cloth, and string. Typically called “matter paintings,” these pieces incorporate gestural form and thickly worked, scraped, torn, and incised surfaces. Together, the works shed light on Tàpies’s commitment to contemporary political and social issues, especially in relation to his Catalan heritage.

The exhibition was curated by Tàpies scholar Manuel Borja-Villel, director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reína Sofía in Madrid (Museo Reína Sofía) and former director of the Fundacio Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona. It initiates a series of institutional exchanges between Dia and the Museo Reina Sofía, Spain’s national museum of modern and contemporary art.

"Antoni Tàpies: The Resources of Rhetoric," curated by Manuel Borja-Villel. Dia: Beacon, Beacon, NY. Through October 19.


Antoni Tàpies, Armari, 1973 (Wardrobe), object-tapestry, 231 x 201 x 156 cm. Work executed in collaboration with Josep Royo.


Antoni Tàpies, Porta metàl·lica i violí, 1956, metal shutter and violin, paint on object-assemblage, 200 x 150 x 13 cm.


Antoni Tàpies, Creu de paper de diari, 1946-1947, (Newsprint Cross), paint, ink and collage on paper, 40 x 31 cm.

All images are art work by Antoni Tàpies, courtesy of the Fundacio Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona.

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