Catalan Painter Antoni Tapies, Pioneer of European Abstract Art, Dies at 88

Catalan Painter Antoni Tapies, Pioneer of European Abstract Art, Dies at 88
Antoni Tàpies
(Courtesy canalhub.fotos via Flickr)

The Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies, a major representative of European postwar art known for his mystical, shamanistic approach to abstraction and sculptural canvases, died on Monday in Barcelona at age 88. The news was confirmed to ARTINFO by his longtime dealer, Pace Gallery.

Tàpies was born December 13, 1923 in Barcelona as the son of a liberal publisher and a bookseller. He began his career in Spain as a surrealist painter influenced by such artists as Paul Klee and Joan Miro. In his younger years, Tàpies was a political activist working against the Spanish dictatorship of Francisco Franco. After World War II he co-founded both the artistic group and its eponymous journal Dau al Set (“the seventh face of the die”) with the poet Joan Brossa. Dau al Set was a Catalonian artistic movement connected to Surrealism and Dadaism that stressed the importance of the subconscious. The group dissolved in 1954. 

The artist's death comes a year and a half after his last public appearance, at the opening of the remodeled Tàpies Foundation, a cultural center and museum he founded, which is dedicated to modern and contemporary art in Barcelona, Spain. Though his health was deteriorating, he continued to paint until his death, despite trembling hands and poor eyesight, according to the Spanish paper El Mundo. Tàpies was honored with the hereditary title of Marqués de Tàpies by King Juan Carlos I of Spain in 2010.

To see a selection of works from throughout Antoni Tàpies career, click here