Logo Fundació Antoni Tàpies

21/12/2006 - 25/2/2007

Press release

Tàpies’ Posters and the Public Sphere

Organised by:
Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona
20 December 2006, 7:30 p.m., levels 2 and 3
Opening times:
Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 8 pm. Mondays closed
Group visits:
times must be arranged by (t) +34 934 870 315 / (f) +34 934 592 450 / e-mail
Press Departament:
Alexandra Laudo (t) +34 934 870 315 / (f) +34 934 870 009 / e-mail

‘The work to which the painter gives emotive form must be closely linked to the ideology of the progressive forces that exist during his time.’ Antoni Tàpies, 1974

The exhibition The Posters of Antoni Tàpies and the Public Sphere, presents approximately 150 posters that the artist has produced over a period spanning more than five decades, revealing Tàpies as one of the artists most committed to and interested in this public form of expression, necessarily fleeting and usually characterised by its directness. The posters of Antoni Tàpies have not been reviewed for more than twenty years, since the exhibition Tàpies cartells (Tàpies Posters, December 1983 - February 1984) was presented at the Fundació Joan Miró. This exhibition and the book published to accompany it, continue the study and research of Tàpies’ work, which is the main mission of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies.

Thematically, Tàpies’ poster production can be classified into two broad groups. Firstly, those that engage with the public sphere referred to in the title of this exhibition, and which constitute invaluable graphic and artistic testimony to certain needs and aspirations felt by civil society, as well as other cultural realities forming part of our recent past. Secondly, the posters he made for his own exhibitions, which, very often, also have a certain air of the manifesto about them. To this we should also add a subgroup comprising the artist’s homages to writers, poets, musicians, film directors and intellectuals, and which introduce a new use of the poster as an open, public letter.

If we take a chronological look at Tàpies’ output from the beginning to the present day, we find that in the 1960s he produced no more than around 15 posters. Production increased considerably in the 1970s, when he made more than 60, his message becoming more radical and political. However, it was in the 1980s that institutional and social demand reached its height, when he produced approximately 90 posters. Production decreased in the 1990s and into the new century, becoming less institutional in type and based more on occasional collaborations with certain groups fighting for social justice in different fields.

Tàpies’ posters provide documentary material of the highest order, both on general issues (the abolition of the death penalty, amnesty and human rights, protests against nuclear power, the call for peace or fight against apartheid, etc.) and particular issues (defending Chile, peace in Bosnia, etc.). However, above all his posters are connected to events in the social, cultural and political history of Catalonia, both during the final years of the Franco regime (particularly outstanding here is the poster Tàpies produced for his exhibition at the Galerie Maeght in 1974, and which filled the streets of Paris with the word ‘assassins’ in reference to the execution of Salvador Puig Antich) and during the period from the restoration of democracy to the present, with posters dedicated to the Assembly of Catalonia, commemorating the Catalan national day on 11 September and the fifth centenary of the first book printed in Catalan, defending young people, the Catalan masters and music sung in Catalan, as well as those announcing or commemorating other important events, such as the festivities of La Mercè, the establishment of Televisió de Catalunya, the Catalan broadcasting company, in 1983 and the international recognition of Catalan culture. Tàpies’ posters occupied an important position in the Catalan public sphere as instruments vindicating democracy and Catalan identity, and also reflected the progress being made in terms of the cultural and social demands of the country. At the same time, they served as ambassadors for Catalonia internationally.

The extraordinary artistic cohesion common to all Tàpies’ original works is also found in his serialised productions, whether graphic work, artist’s books or posters. Tàpies’ painting embodies a great manifesto in favour of freedom as the essential right of people and nations, but in the poster this proclamation becomes a cry, a guiding voice, a public message. In the posters, Tàpies addresses his message from his own terrain, using the artistic resources appropriate in each different period and placing all their symbolic power at the service of his message. To explore his posters is, therefore, also to take a journey through his artistic evolution, from the dense, opaque materials of the 1950s to his varied use of frames for objects, the transformative power of varnish and the bare white backgrounds and handwritten texts of recent times. Tàpies brings all the spirit and resources from the language of painting to his posters. However, unlike other poster artists, who more or less faithfully reproduce their habitual aesthetic, with Tàpies the graphic force of the concept rises above all aestheticist considerations, so that there is less material and more spirit. In Tàpies, sign, language and graphic impact are all placed at the service of the social and communicational purpose of the poster, as this is a type of work that “speaks outward”.’

In short, Tàpies’ posters comprise a two-fold testimony, to his own artistic development and biography in his exhibition posters, and to a collective biography - that of us all - in those posters devoted to cultural, social and political events.


Tuesday, 23 January 2007, 7.30 pm
The Civil Weaponry of Art
Lecture by Jordi Gràcia

Tuesday, 30 January 2007, 7.30 pm
Art and Message in Civil Posters in Catalonia
Lecture by Santi Barjau

Tuesday, 6 February 2007, 7.30 pm
Designing for the Utopia. Design and Social Engagement in Catalonia
Lecture by Raquel Pelta

All lectures will be held at the Auditorium, Fundació Antoni Tàpies. Admission free

Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 7 pm
Guided tour for Members of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies Guided tour of the exhibition by Núria Homs, collection curator and head of several Antoni Tàpies projects.


Title: The Posters of Antoni Tàpies and the Public Sphere
Languages: Catalan with English translations / Spanish with English translations
No. of pages: 214
Illustrations: 314 colour and black and white

The publication Tàpies’ Posters and the Public Sphere offers an illustrated catalogue raisonné of the 245 posters made by Antoni Tàpies from the 1950ss to the present, as well as a large selection of illustrations - in larger formats - that show the artist’s civic engagement, especially his perseverance in the defence of specific ethical and political issues, and the contemporaneity of his aesthetic vision. The study included in the catalogue, by Pilar Parcerisas, reviews the posters of Tàpies, highlighting the artist’s intellectual commitment to society and placing them within the framework of a critical public sphere whilst linking their graphic power to the essence of pictorial work and also taking into account the social and political context of a period marked by the emergence of avant-garde movements and the ups and downs of recent decades.

More information in Programme