Catalan painter and graphic artist, Antoni Tàpies was born in Barcelona in 1923. He first became interested in contemporary art as a teenager through the magazine, “D’Aci I D’Alla”, published in Barcelona. Tàpies taught himself to draw and paint and in 1942, while recovering from a lung infection, he produced pictures influenced by Picasso and van Gogh. He began studying law at Barcelona University in 1944 while also attending evening classes in drawing at Academia Valls. In 1950- 1951 he went on a French government scholarship to Paris and in 1953 he visited New York for his first American exhibition.
Tàpies has won numerous prizes including the prize for painting at the 1958 Biennale. Among his influences are Dubuffet and Miró and at one point, he became very aware of the heritage that he shared with Miró (there are considerable similarities between the two artist’s prints of the late 1920’s).
Characteristic work by Tàpies includes paintings with thickly pasted, scratched or scraped paint in a dramatic style with austere imagery and earthy color. All this may relate strongly to the character of the Spanish countryside. In the mid-1950s, Tàpies became concerned with the physical evidence of man’s journey through his environment. His work began, increasingly, to emulate the decay and ware through time of defacement of doors and walls. He used areas of sand and plaster to create an impression of this evolving history.
Tàpies began producing lithographs in 1959. These were often embossed to create a similar relief or tactile effect as that found in his paintings. He often tore and layered his prints and by opening up the picture plane, he began to explore the idea of creating an unknown area or space much like Lucio Fontana’s work of that time. His roughly manipulated surfaces became increasingly layered with graffiti, the letters and words becoming entangled and indiscernible. Tàpies began etching in the late 1960s. Most of his prints were published by Galerie Maeght in Paris or Salsa Gaspar in Barcelona. He also illustrated a great number of books in which the prints are occasionally folded, torn or collaged.