Antonio Saura

Biography of Antonio Saura

The stature of painter Antonio Saura has been very much on the rise since his death in 1998. The monstrous entities that Saura depicts in his expressive and mysterious paintings form part of his highly personal style—unlike anything else seen before in the art world. Born in Huesca in 1930, Saura was from the age of 13 confined to his bed suffering from tuberculosis. For five years he recuperated and began experimenting with painting and drawing. Soon he would add lithography, engraving, and poetry and prose to his practice.

Antonio Saura’s distinctive work has seen his style evolve from surrealism—characteristic of his time in Paris—to a kind of baroque abstraction. In 1957 Saura founded the group El Paso. Its intentions were to improve what they saw as a crisis in Spanish art that was lacking both in critical engagement and sufficient exhibitions. This heralded a more aggressive painting style and the use of recurring themes such as the female body.

Having initially embraced a vibrant use of color, the latter half of Antonio Saura’s work was characterized by his monochromatic style of painting that favored gray over all other colors. The political instability in Spain in the 60s saw Saura developing an increasingly conflicted relationship with his art; he destroyed hundreds of paintings, gave up on oil painting for 10 years and started experimenting with other mediums. His multiples and editions are always well-considered and released in small editions. Saura was honored in his lifetime and was awarded the Carnegie Prize for his contribution to documenta in 1964. He achieved numerous solo shows around the world, including Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in 1964, the ICA, London in 1965 and Kunstmuseum Bern in 2012. 

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