Following the inaugural show at our Paris gallery dedicated to Antonio Saura, we are delighted to present a monographic exhibition of works by Antoni Tàpies, one of the most important post-war artists of the 20th Century. Tàpies has been a part of the DNA of our gallery for many years: we have included his work in several collective exhibitions, pop-up projects and, last year, we dedicated the exhibition Tàpies Today to him in Barcelona which we are pleased to share with you now in Paris, a city that was so important to his development. We approach the project with immense respect and profound admiration, conscious of the challenge it presents the gallery to offer an up-to-date view of his work. We do so under the guidance of curator Arnau Puig, who was a great friend of the artist and has been an expert on his work since they co-founded the group Dau al Set. Having followed the artist throughout his career and studied his trajectory, we asked him to provide us with a new perception of his oeuvre, from a contemporary perspective. Thus, in the words of Arnau Puig: “The great secret strength of Tàpies’ works is that they take you by surprise, draw you in although you understand nothing, because it is not necessary to understand art: it is pure emotional expression, a clamour of sorts. They’d be – this is the way Tàpies wished to understand it – total works, à la Wagner.”
For the Barcelona exhibition, we sought to republish a number of historical perspectives from texts written for different exhibition catalogues in the 1960s and 1970s by Dan Evans, Roland Penrose, Yvon Taillandier and Michel Tapié. At the same time, we also wished to bring together new contemporary visions of Tàpies and we commissioned essays from Laura Copelin and Elise Lammer who present their analysis of some of the works in the present show, Tàpies Today. We wish to thank them for their efforts and courage in rising to the challenge. It was a pleasure for the gallery to bring together in the original version of the catalogue the inestimable contribution of all four directors, past and present, of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies: Manuel Borja-Villel, Nuria Enguita, Laurence Rassel et Carles Guerra. They offer us, through their interviews, an evaluation of the years they were in charge of the Foundation and their reflections on the objectives, challenges, and evolution of a private institution that was born of the generosity of the artist and his family. All of them are agreed on the necessity for Tàpies to become an artist of the twenty-first century, who poses questions about the present day, and the indisputable capacity of his work to generate new readings.
Antoni Tàpies was a great humanist, an artist with a strong sense of civic and ethical commitment. We are convinced of his importance and through Tàpies Today we hope to contribute in as far as we can to a new reading of his work. In this show, then, you will find works ranging from the second half of the 1950s to the beginning of the 1970s. This is a period that was rich in influences, full of nuance. A creative legacy we vindicate.
Arnau Puig (Barcelona, 1926) is a Doctor of Philosophy and a Professor of Aesthetic Philosophy and Composition at the School of Architecture in Barcelona (ETSAB). He was the co-founder – together with Tàpies, among others – of certain early non-conformist publications (such as Algol and Dau al Set) that emerged in Spain after the civil war. Awarded a scholarship to study at the Sorbonne by the French Government, he later directed the Spanish School of History and Archeology attached to the National Spanish Research Advisory (CSIC) in Rome. A critic and exhibition curator, he has published several books on a wide variety of subjects that encompasses notions of sensitivity, thought, art and the vital human experience which exploits and engenders them. He believes that aesthetic sensitivity and perceptiveness is a necessary prelude to all knowledge and practice, including the scientific.