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Antoni Tapies Prints

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“Art should startle the viewer into thinking about the meaning of life.” - Antoni Tapies

Antoni Tàpies, the Spanish sculptor and abstract artist was born in 1923 in Barcelona. His father was a lawyer for the Catalan government and was secular. His mother was a catholic, who wanted her son to have a religious education. His schooling had not gone as planned. He suddenly became scared of nuns and developed a peculiar spirituality. This influenced several of his works that were not welcomed by the church. During the period he was confined due to his lung infection, he began mimicking works of Picasso, Van Gogh, and read a variety of literature that swayed him away from the regular classicism that was respected by other Catalan artists.

Tapies took up his Law course due to his father’s compulsion. He gave up this career to go after his passion for painting. Jean Dubuffet’s work made Tapies to switch his attention from Surrealism to Abstraction. When he met Picasso in Paris, social realism drew his attention. Briefly after his marriage, his art work took a short halt.

French curator and influential critic, Michel Tapie, promoted Tapies’ work in Europe and many other places. Along with Joan Brossa, Tapies helped in co-founding Dau-al-Set, which was Spain’s Post war movement. Tapies’ initial paintings were Surrealistic and had the influence of Joan Miro and Paul Klee. Later, Tapies switched his art form to incorporating materials which were not artistic. His significant contribution to the world of art is his use of mixed media. He created brilliant art incorporating unconventional items like marble dust, clay in his paint and also used strings, rags and waste paper. From around 1970, Tapies works consisted of real world objects like mirrors, stockings, buckets, or even bigger objects. Furniture also formed a main component of most of his work. Rinzen is one such work where a tilted hospital bed was installed in an eerie fashion. Universal problems were mainly the inspiration for his works. Social justice and democracy also played a significant role.

Tapies’ intense desire to serve the society stimulated him and he always looked for what was useful for the fellow citizens. His activism was not only evident in his works, but he also followed it in real life. He was arrested for attending a secret political assembly in 1966. Assassins was a series of lithographs he made and exhibited in Paris.

According to Tapies, in art, the most important thing was to leave some amount of doubt about the meaning of the art, so that the viewer could imagine and perceive its meaning, thus making them participate in the art.

Tapies’ ideas have influenced several spheres of painting, lithography, etchings. Julian Schnabel and Tapies are two artists known to have connected the word “matter” to art. Several essays and graphic works have also been contributed by Tapies. Tapies Foundation was established as a dedication of modern art studies. In Barcelona’s publishing house campus, the Tapies foundation opened a library and museum.

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