Born in Barcelona on the 13 December, son of Josep Tàpies Mestres and Maria Puig Guerra. During his early childhood, Tàpies lived in a cultural and social environment marked to a considerable extent by his father’s friendship with leading figures in Catalan public life and in the Catalanist republicanism of the time and by the intense civic and political activity of his maternal grandfather.
Primary schooling in various Barcelona schools (Sisters of Loreto School, German School and Colegio Balmes de las Escuelas Pías).
Begins secondary school. First contact with contemporary art by way of various Catalan publications and, most importantly, the special Christmas issue of the magazine D’ací i d’allà, edited by Josep Lluís Sert and Joan Prats, with texts by Zervos, Foix and Gasch, among others, and reproductions of works by Picasso, Braque, Gris, Léger, Mondrian, Brancusi, Kandinsky, Duchamp, Arp, Miró, etc.
During the Spanish Civil War he continues his studies at the Liceu Pràctic in Barcelona and for a few months is a frequent visitor to the government offices of the Generalitat de Catalunya, where his father works as a legal advisor. Takes up drawing and painting, self-taught. The outcome of the war – defeat of the legitimate democratic government of the Second Republic and beginning of the Franco dictatorship – is to make a profound impression on many aspects of his life and artistic career.
His schooling – first at the Instituto Menéndez y Pelayo and then at the Escuelas Pías once again – is frequently interrupted on account of his delicate health.
Lung disease and lengthy convalescence in Puig d’Olena sanatorium and subsequently in Puigcerdà and La Garriga. Draws and makes copies of Van Gogh and Picasso. He is interested in the history of philosophy. Reads Thomas Mann, Nietzsche, Spengler, Ibsen, Stendhal, Proust, Gide, etc. Develops a taste for Romantic music, especially Wagner and Brahms, and for the aesthetic ideology of Romanticism and German post-Romanticism in general.