Tàpies’s early work was influenced by the art of Max Ernst, Paul Klee, and Joan Miró, and by Eastern philosophy. His art was exhibited for the first time in the controversial Salo d’Octubre in Barcelona in 1948. He soon began to develop a recognisable personal style related to matière painting, or Art Informel, a movement that focused on the materials of art-making. The approach resulted in textural richness, but its more important aim was the exploration of the transformative qualities of matter. Tàpies freely adopted bits of detritus, earth, and stone – mediums that evoke solidity and mass – in his large-scale works.
In 1950, his first solo show was held at the Galeries Laietanes, Barcelona, and he was included in the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh. That same year, the French government awarded Tàpies a scholarship that enabled him to spend a year in Paris. His first solo show in New York was presented in 1953 at the gallery of Martha Jackson, who arranged for his work to be shown the following year in various galleries around the United States. During the 1950s and 1960s, Tàpies exhibited in major museums and galleries throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and South America. In 1966, he began his collection of writings, La practica de l’art. In 1969, he and the poet Joan Brossa published their book, Frègoli; a second collaborative effort, Nocturn Matinal, appeared the following year. Tàpies received the Rubens Prize of Siegen, Germany, in 1972.
Retrospective exhibitions were presented at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, in 1973 and at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, in 1977. The following year, he published his prize-winning autobiography, Memòria personal. In the early 1980s, he continued diversifying his mediums, producing his first ceramic sculptures and designing sets for Jacques Dupin’s play L’Eboulement. By 1992, three volumes of the catalogue raisonné of Tàpies’s work had been published. The following year, he and Cristina Iglesias represented Spain at the Venice Biennale, where his installation was awarded the Leone d’Oro. A retrospective exhibition was presented at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, and the Guggenheim Museum SoHo, New York, in 1994-5. In 2000 the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid also organised a major retrospective of the artist’s work. Tàpies lives in Barcelona.
|1957 Grey and Green Painting oil, epoxy resin, marble dust on canvas|
|1958 Gran Pintura oil & sand on canvas|
|1958 Grey Ochre oil, epoxy resin, marble dust on canvas|
|1959 Croix sur gris XCVIII mixed media on canvas laid on board|
|1959 Grey Relief on Black latex paint & marble dust on canvas|
|1960 Grey between Brackets oil & mixed media on board|
|1961 Gris Violacé aux Rides mixed media on canvas|
|1961 Relieve negro perorado mixed media on canvas|
|1962 Ocre côn trazos negros superores mixed media on canvas|
|1963 Large Matter with Lateral Papers mixed media|
|1964 Pintura mixed media on canvas|
|1968 Journal lithograph|
|1968 L'Enveloppe lithograph|
|1973 Foll lithograph|
|1974 Cartes per la Teresa (472) lithograph & collage|
|1975 L'arc etching & opaque white|
|1975 Llambrec Material lithograph|
|1976 Negre i roig III, Fora etching|
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