Antoni Tàpies 1923–2012 is the artist’s first exhibition in New York since his death in 2012.
In the nearly seven decades of his career, Tàpies (1923-2012, Barcelona) created a prolific and singular body of work that redefined painting and influenced future generations of artists. Presenting work made between the 1960s and his death, this will be the first exhibition at Pace to span multiple decades of the twentieth-century master’s work.
Following the Spanish Civil War and World War II, Tàpies sought to develop a new kind of painting. In the 1950s he began making his first matter paintings using materials such as marble dust and resin. These paintings positioned Tàpies as a leading figure in Europe’s avant-garde and signaled the beginning of a lifelong investigation of materials and forms that made him one of the most influential postwar artists.
Symbols drawn from his Catalonian heritage and studies of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions recur across the artist’s work. Dan Cameron notes that these markings “proliferate as a kind of. . . handwriting, a way for Tàpies to make a mark in space which connects with the deepest human impulse to communicate through sign.”
For Tàpies, these markings and his handling of humble materials constitute what Barbara Rose describes as an act of consubstantiation. Describing the ritualistic dimension of the artist’s work, she writes that “the essential act for Tàpies is not depiction or representation but the transformation of matter into spirit.” She adds that for Tàpies, art’s purpose “is to alter and heighten consciousness, bringing us into contact in the most powerful way with reality, not as it is pictured but as it literally exists in time and space.”