ANTONI TÀPIES (1923-2012)
ANTONI TÀPIES (1923-2012)

H Relief

ANTONI TÀPIES (1923-2012)
H Relief
signed 'tàpies' (on the reverse)
oil, sand and charcoal on canvas
32 x 39 ½in. (81.2 x 100.2cm.)
Executed in 1966
Martha Jackson Gallery, New York.
James H. Grady Collection, Atlanta (acquired from the above).
His sale., Sotheby’s London, 28 June 1990, lot 61.
Private Collection, Switzerland (acquired from the above sale).
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Antoni Tàpies, Paintings, Collages, and Works on Paper, 1966-1968, exh. cat., Martha Jackson gallery, New York, 1968, no. 21 (illustrated, unpaged).
A. Agustí (ed.), Tàpies: The Complete Works, Volume 2: 1961-1968, Barcelona 1990, p. 495, no. 1538 (illustrated, p. 302).
Lugano, Museo Cantonale d’Arte, Tra luce impressionista e materia informale: da Pissarro a Dubuffet, 1997.

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Anna Touzin
Anna Touzin Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Part sculptural relief, part painting, Antoni Tàpies’ H Relief is a striking, material presence. Constructed from sand, charcoal and oil, the surface of the work is richly textured as it extends beyond the pictorial plane. Executed in 1966, H Relief marks a momentous period in Tàpies’s life, during which his began to distil his aesthetic. The year began auspiciously: Tàpies’s solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, had recently closed, and he had begun working on his influential text, La tradició i els seus enemics en l’art actual. In March, Tàpies, alongside four hundred students and intellectuals, participated in a covert gathering to discuss the establishment of the first democratic university in Barcelona. All the participants were arrested.

A sense of secrecy and silence permeates H Relief, whose surface evokes a forgotten wall or closed door. This image was central to the artist’s practice: Tàpies, whose surname means ‘walls’ in his native Catalan, was fascinated by the ways in which the door or wall could permit expression. ‘How many suggestions can be derived from the image of the wall and all its possible permutations!’, he wrote in 1969. ‘Separation, cloistering, the wailing wall, prison, witness to the passing of time; smooth surfaces, serene and white; tortured surfaces, old and decrepit; signs of human imprints … the romantic prestige of ruins’ (A. Tàpies, ‘Communication on the Wall’, 1969, in Antoni Tàpies. In Perspective, Barcelona 2005, p. 79).

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