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Antoni Tàpies: 1923—: Artist Biography

Joined Avant-garde Group, Career Languished Briefly, Became Elder Statesman Of Spanish Art

Art critics hail Spanish painter Antoni Tàpies as his country's greatest living artist. Since the 1950s Tàpies has been creating large, emotionally resonant abstract works that owe much to the cultural heritage of his native Catalonia. "Tàpies is one of a number of post World War II European artists who, in their attempt at breaking through the constraints of cubism and geometric abstraction, came out with revolutionary seminal styles that roughly paralleled the development of Abstract Expressionism in the United States," noted an essay in Contemporary Artists.

The painter and sculptor was born Antoni Tàpies Puig on December 13, 1923, in Barcelona. A military dictatorship rose to power in Spain that year, but when he was eight, its royal family fled and a republic was established. Barcelona became the capital city when Catalonia won autonomy for a brief period thereafter. Tàpies's father, a lawyer, was a committed Republican and served in the Catalonian government, and there was some conflict in the home between his father's atheism and his mother's devout Roman Catholicism. When civil war erupted in Spain in 1936, forces led by the fascist Generalissimo Francisco Franco harassed the Republicans, and Tàpies's father was interrogated but released unharmed.

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