Antoni Tàpies: Prints, 1948-1976

February 3 - July 14, 2019

Organized by Glenbow
Curated by Sarah Todd

Antoni Tàpies was a Catalan painter, sculptor and art theorist who became one of the most significant European artists of his generation. Born in Barcelona in 1923, his adolescence was disrupted by the Spanish Civil War from 1936-39, and the subsequent rise of nationalist dictator Francisco Franco's totalitarian regime.

This firsthand experience of political unrest and the oppression of Catalan culture and language under Franco's rule informed Tàpies' artistic ethos from the inception of his career.

Tàpies had a diverse and prolific artistic practice working across disciplines and media, with printmaking as an integral and enduring part of his 60-year artistic output. Continually experimenting with the processes of printmaking, Tàpies explored its expressive and aesthetic potential, using a wide variety of techniques such as collograph, collage, embossing, tearing and scraping to create tactile, complex images. This layered visual complexity resonates with the abstract visual language Tàpies developed and employed across his oeuvre.

Antoni Tàpies, Mestres Catalunya, 1974, lithograph on paper, Collection of Glenbow © Comissió Tàpies, VEGAP, SOCAN, Montreal, 2018

Within Tàpies' artistic vocabulary, Catalan culture emerges as a powerful theme, particularly in this selection of prints from Glenbow's collection – all of which were created prior to Spain's transition to democracy in 1977. References to Catalan culture can be seen in Tàpies' use of the red and yellow of the Catalan flag, allusions to Catalan folk dancing and repeated calligraphic inscriptions related to the Catalan language.

This selection of prints, created by Tàpies over a period of 27 years, is a small survey of a vast and important artistic practice that powerfully fuses the material, the personal and the political.

Interesting Links

The Guardian: Antoni Tàpies
Enigmatic artist who celebrated the most humble things

Antoni Tàpies Documentary
Te De Tàpies 2009

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