Antoni Tàpies

Antoni Tàpies: The Resources of Rhetoric

May 16, 2009 - October 19, 2009

<p>Antoni Tàpies. <i>L’escala (The Ladder)</i>, 1974. <br>
© Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.</p>

Antoni Tàpies. L’escala (The Ladder), 1974.
© Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.



Press Release


Exhibition of important postwar Spanish artist inaugurates series of exchanges between Dia and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Apr 09, 2009

New York, NY—Dia Art Foundation presents a special exhibition of work by Antoni Tàpies, one of Spain’s most important and prolific postwar artists, on view at Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries from May 16 through October 19, 2009. Antoni Tàpies: The Resources of Rhetoric represents a rare opportunity for viewers to see a significant show of the artist’s early work at a museum in the United States.

The exhibition has been curated by Tàpies scholar Manuel Borja-Villel, director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reína Sofía in Madrid (Museo Reína Sofía) and former director of the Fundacio Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona. It initiates a series of institutional exchanges between Dia and the Museo Reina Sofía, Spain’s national museum of modern and contemporary art.

Comprising approximately twenty major large-scale works, Antoni Tàpies: The Resources of Rhetoric draws from the Reina Sofía’s exceptional collection, as well as the collections of the Foundacio Tàpies and the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. It provides a focused view of this venerable artist’s work during the crucial decades of the 1950s and 1960s, which is contextualized by key paintings from other periods. In those decades, Tàpies developed the language and signature iconography - informed by the political upheavals of his native Spain - that would continue to shape his practice. During the same period, he began to use unconventional materials and media, mixing traditional paints with such purposefully commonplace materials as sand, ash, marble powder, paper, cloth, and string. Typically called "matter paintings," these pieces are notable for their vocabulary of gestural form and their thickly worked, scraped, torn, and incised surfaces. Together, the works shed light on Tàpies’s growing commitment to addressing contemporary political and social issues, especially in relation to his Catalan heritage.

In addition, by placing these innovative paintings in the galleries of Dia:Beacon, Antoni Tàpies: The Resources of Rhetoric enables visitors to reconsider Tàpies’s work in relation to Dia’s collection of American and German art dating from the 1960s to the present. For instance, in their use of symbolic motifs and iconic symbols, notable parallels can be traced with works by Joseph Beuys. Using materials such as felt, rubber, and copper, Beuys’s installations, including those on view at Dia:Beacon, evidence a similar belief in the transformative potential of particular materials.

Antoni Tàpies: The Resources of Rhetoric will further reveal the artist’s sustained exploration of pictorial surfaces. On occasion, he approaches the canvas as a palimpsest, to be inscribed with text. Elsewhere, he treats it like a body, the marks functioning as abrasions on skin. Such approaches to the surface of the canvas and mark-making recall the work of the American artist Cy Twombly, whose paintings are on long-term view at the Cy Twombly Gallery at the Menil Collection, Houston, a collaboration among the artist, Dia, and the Menil.

Antoni Tàpies: The Resources of Rhetoric will be accompanied by a series of public programs (announcement to follow).

Antoni Tàpies: The Resources of Rhetoric is made possible in part through the generosity of the State Corporation for Spanish Cultural Action Abroad (SEACEX) and the Spanish Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Culture, and PaceWildenstein.

Antoni Tàpies
Antoni Tàpies was born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1923 into a family of booksellers and Catalan nationalist politicians. During protracted periods of illness in his adolescence, he began drawing and developing a serious interest in literature. In 1944, after abandoning law studies at Barcelona University, he began to work as an artist. Tàpies first exhibited his work in the late 1940s, in Barcelona. He had his first solo exhibition in 1950 at Galeries Laietanes, Barcelona, and his first New York solo exhibition in 1953 at Martha Jackson Gallery. He first traveled abroad, to Paris, in 1951, where he met Picasso, and in 1953 he visited New York, where he met Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Hans Hofmann. In 1984, he established the Fundacio Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona.

Retrospective surveys of his work have been presented at venues including the Kestner-Geselschaft, Hannover, Germany (1962); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1962); the Kunsthaus Zurich (1962); the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Vienna (1968); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1973); Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (1977); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1980); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf (1989); and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2000). In 1993, Tàpies and Cristina Iglesias represented Spain at the 45th Venice Biennale. Tàpies lives and works in Barcelona.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, an autonomous organization dependent on the Spanish Ministry of Culture, was founded in May 1988 by Royal Decree. Originally created to enable temporary exhibitions, the Museo Reina Sofía’s permanent collection was established in 1992 around the centerpiece of Picasso’s Guernica (1937). The museum’s mission is to conserve, expand, and exhibit its collections; to promote public knowledge of and access to contemporary art in its various manifestations; to hold exhibitions at the international level; and to offer training and educational activities related to its holdings. In addition to key pieces by Antoni Tàpies, Juan Gris, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, and Julio González, the permanent collection showcases numerous works produced between the end of the nineteenth century and the present day in the disciplines of painting, sculpture, prints and drawing, photography, video, installation, and decorative art and architecture.

Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries
Dia Art Foundation celebrates the sixth anniversary of Dia:Beacon in May 2009. The museum, which has welcomed nearly 500,000 visitors since its opening, presents Dia’s distinguished collection of art from the 1960s to the present. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River, in Beacon, New York, the museum occupies a former Nabisco box-printing facility that was renovated by Dia with artist Robert Irwin and architect OpenOffice.

Dia:Beacon’s expansive galleries, which comprise 240,000 square feet of exhibition space illuminated by natural light, house works by a focused group of some of the most significant artists of the last half-century. These include Bernd and Hilla Becher, Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois, John Chamberlain, Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Michael Heizer, Robert Irwin, Donald Judd, On Kawara, Imi Knoebel, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, Blinky Palermo, Gerhard Richter, Robert Ryman, Fred Sandback, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Andy Warhol, and Lawrence Weiner.

The museum also presents temporary exhibitions, as well as public programs designed to complement the collection and exhibitions. These include monthly gallery talks, Merce Cunningham Dance Company Events, music performances by St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, Community Free Days for neighboring counties, and an education program that serves area students at all levels.

Dia:Beacon is easily reachable via Metro-North Railroad. Trains depart hourly from Grand Central Terminal in New York City, and the Hudson Line station in Beacon is within walking distance of the museum. For schedule and fare information, visit the MTA’s website at The museum is also reachable by major roadways. Driving directions are available on Dia’s website at Admission is $10 general, $7 for students and seniors, and free for Dia members and children under 12. Summer hours (through October 19, 2009) are Thursday through Monday, 11am to 6pm.

Dia Art Foundation
A nonprofit institution founded in 1974, Dia Art Foundation is internationally renowned for initiating, supporting, presenting, and preserving art projects. Dia presents public programs and its permanent collection of works from the 1960s through the present at Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries. In the fall of 2007 Dia initiated a partnership with The Hispanic Society of America through which Dia presents commissions and projects by contemporary artists within the Society’s galleries while seeking a permanent home for these initiatives in New York City. Additionally, Dia Art Foundation maintains long-term, site-specific projects in the western United States, New York City, and Bridgehampton, Long Island. For additional public information, visit

* * *

For additional information or materials contact:
Press Department, Dia Art Foundation, or 212 293 5518

Bookmark and Share