Biography of Antoni Tàpies
Few artists engendered as much devotion in their lifetime as Antoni Tàpies, who as a painter, philosopher, and political activist, used his art to protest against Franco, Spain's then dictator. Tàpies' astonishing achievement was in making intuitive and ambiguous images that defy easy analysis, but that at the same time have the inherent power to alter the perception of reality. This changing or heightening of consciousness aimed to allow the viewer to confront their living reality.
The work of Tàpies revolved around the existentialist void and the sense of something beyond the material world that exists only in its absence. Always elusive but consistently humanitarian, Tàpies strove to express the haunting unease of the human condition. Born in 1923 and brought up during the Spanish Civil War, the severity of his religious education had a deep and sustained effect on his artistic development. Tàpies started off as a surrealist before becoming influenced by Abstract Expressionism in 1953, at which point he began experimenting with mixed media. His incorporation of marble dust, clay, string, and paper into his work was a huge step forward. His lifelong research into materials saw him lauded as one of the most influential Spanish artists of the second half of the 20th century.
Tàpies was tormented by social injustice and his high-profile protests against the death penalty in Franco's Spain provoked him into disseminating lithographs and screenprints. Fabulously popular, Tàpies has been exhibited around the world and in 1962 and again in 1995 was given retrospectives at the Guggenheim in New York. He represented Spain in 1993 at the Venice Biennale and was awarded the Golden Lion. His work features in almost all major collections around the world, including the Tate in London. In 1984 he helped established the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, which holds one of the largest collections of his work. Tàpies died in Barcelona in 2012.