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Armari, 1973


231 x 201 x 156 cm
Work executed in collaboration with Josep Royo

In the late sixties and early seventies, while Tàpies’ political commitment deepened, he accentuated his work with objects, and his pieces seem to emerge beyond their own physical limits. Undoubtedly this renewed interest in the object coincided with the efforts of Arte Povera in Europe and the Postminimalists in the United States. Even so, and despite the fact that these new artistic paths could have provided him with new incentives, we must not forget that he had already penetrated the object world from the very beginning of his matter painting (Porta metàl·lica i violí) and even before, and that it is from this perspective that the objects of the sixties and seventies must be analysed.

If, as in the case of the Povera artist, Tàpies used common, ephemeral, anti-industrial objects that would acquire a symbolic significance derived from their own nature, they are always treated or reorganised in such a way that the first thing to be recognised, as in his paintings, is the hand of the artist. It is not the physical presence of the object that imposes itself first on the observer’s gaze, unlike in many examples of Minimal, Postminimal and Arte Povera. Tàpies does not present objects to us as they are; rather he imprints his own stamp on them, incorporating them into his own language, so that they acquire an aura in the sense used by Walter Benjamin. Thus, the open doors of Armari (Wardrobe, 1973) present an A, referring to the artist’s Christian name. In the same way, the clothes inside are arranged in a gestural way reminiscent more of the paintings of Franz Kline than of the objects of Michelangelo Pistoletto, for example. His artistic language stems from other parameters: we are faced with a genuine calligraphy, a gestural expressionism in three dimensions. The object and the space in which it is enclosed do not have their own life; rather they act as the direct expressions of action, of the artist’s emotions or experiences.

Extracts from Manuel J. Borja-Villel, “The Collection”, Fundació Antoni Tàpies (Barcelona: Fundació Antoni Tàpies, 1990)


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