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Vocation and form | Antoni Tàpies

IN THE ORIGINS of the artistic vocation we always find the living of strong, vital experience. […] But it is the case that suddenly, as a result of this experience, we realize that a new reality is taking shape before our eyes, and we discover that things are not exactly as we might have wanted to make ourselves believe they were. An intolerable contradiction arises, a grave conflict between the environment in which we grew up and the new vision that we are constructing with our experience. A readjustment is required, and this is where our action begins. In terms of vocation there can be no other because.

[…] We are not talking about a personal, isolated vision. In this vision an entire sector of a generation participates and contributes, through mutual exchange: those who truly possess vitality and who are present in our acts, those who we might call intellectual progressives or the avant-garde. We must always march shoulder to shoulder with the philosophers, the scientists, and even with the political progressives. The artist is in some way with all of them, in that he researches, discovers, defends, and propagates an idea just as they do. […]

There is no doubt that the plastic arts can be extremely subtle and of powerful import in the struggle, and there is no need for us to indicate how passionately we may end up devoting ourselves to them. They comprise the most direct and universal bridge between idea and man. Through them, as we have seen, one can show without demonstrating, and when the creator frees himself from all aesthetic prejudice the plastic arts are, without a shadow of doubt, one of the very few places where man today may interrogate and rock society with the maxi- mum freedom. […]

The artist works and thinks for himself, and the only appropriate interventionism with which I can agree is that which protects and encourages this freedom. […]

I defend our freedom, but I defend it knowing that we are free vis-à-vis everyone else, and knowing that the value of a work is only attained if it is the confluence, on the one hand, of a conquest of reality for the society that receives it, and, on the other, this conquest is given form such that it holds the conditions necessary to be an active agent in the bosom of that society. […]


TÀPIES, Antoni. “Vocation and Form,” 1955. In: [Various authors]. Tàpies: In perspective.

Barcelona: Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Actar, 2004, pp. 143.151.

Published in With rebellion, awareness is born. Barcelona, 2018. Mayoral. p. 85

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