Antoni Tàpies (1923-2012)
Antoni Tàpies (1923-2012)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more Works from the Suñol Soler Collection to Benefit the Fundació Glòria Soler and the Fundació Suñol
Antoni Tàpies (1923-2012)

Ocre amb cinc entallats [Ochre with Five Notches]

Antoni Tàpies (1923-2012)
Ocre amb cinc entallats [Ochre with Five Notches]
signed and dated 'Tàpies 1964' (on the reverse)
marble dust and oil on canvas
63 ¾ x 51 ¼ in. (162 x 130 cm.)
Executed in 1964.
Galerie Stadler, Paris
Private collection, Madrid
Josep Suñol Soler Collection, Barcelona, 1978
By descent from the above to the present owner
A. Cirici, pies: Witness of Silence, Barcelona, 1972, p. 273 , no. 268 (illustrated and titled 'Ochre with five incisions').
A. Agustí, ed., Antoni Tàpies: The Complete Works Volume Two 1961-1968, Barcelona, 1996, p. 211, no. 1301 (illustrated in color).
Fundació Josep Suñol, Col·lecció Josep Suñol Catàleg raonat, Barcelona, 2004, p. 110, no. 736 (illustrated in color).
Fundació Josep Suñol, Col·lecció Josep Suñol Les Escales, Barcelona, 2004, pp. 79 and 164 (installation view illustrated in color).
Cannes, Galerie Jacques Verrière, Tàpies. Oeuvres récentes, September 1966, no. 6.
Barcelona, Fundació Antoni Tàpies; Valencia, Institut Valencià d’art Modern Centro Julio González; London, Serpentine Gallery, Tàpies. Comunicació sobre el mur, January-August 1992.
Barcelona, Fundació Suñol, Col·lecció Josep Suñol 1915-1995, May 2007-January 2008.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

Lot Essay

An imposing, enigmatic material presence, Ocre amb cinc entallats (Ochre with five notches) is replete with Antoni Tàpies’s distinctive mural magic. Wrought from a mineral compound of oil and sand on canvas, this richly textural object speaks a narrative of time recorded on its slab-like skin: the passage of the elements, and of people, bodies and lives. The stony ochre expanse recalls weathered plaster and sunbaked earth. It is clouded with hazy paler pigment, redolent of old whitewash or of dust kicked up from the ground. At its lower edge, five carved, sooty notches punctuate the work with piano-key rhythm. They are as ambiguous as they are physically stark, hinting equally at charred fenceposts, serried human silhouettes or primal hieroglyphics. Rather than representing on a pictorial plane, Tàpies replaces that surface with solid material fact: a wall, taken as a multivalent site of incision, inscription and revelation. In 1992, the work was included in Comunicació sobre el mur, a major exhibition of Tàpies’ “matter paintings” which traveled from the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, to the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern and London’s Serpentine Gallery.

Like the mythic scrawl of Cy Twombly, Tàpies’s mark-making gestures to layers of history and thought through its dense physicality. Ocre amb cinc entallats is a meditative zone, its earthbound surface carrying the aura of an archaeological relic, and its marks potent with an oblique linguistic charge. Like many of Tàpies’ works, it can also be seen to reflect the violence of the 1930s Civil War inscribed on the Spanish streets where he grew up. By the time he was a young man, the ancient walls of Barcelona, cratered and burnt, had become analogues for a disfigured civilization. Conjuring beauty from the dust and rubble, Tàpies forged a new, elemental conception of reality in his works, which, as the critic John Russell wrote in 1969, seem “to have been not so much painted as excavated from an idiosyncratic compound of mud, sand, earth, dried blood and powdered minerals” (J. Russell, quoted in W. Grimes, “Antoni Tàpies, Spanish Abstract Painter, Dies at 88”, The New York Times, February 6, 2012). Not unlike the torn, stitched and singed compositions of Alberto Burri, Tàpies’s art acknowledged the world’s lesions and scars while making a redemptive case for creation coming from destruction—a still-vital message in 1960s Spain. Ocre amb cinc entallats is a surface alive with potential. Its quiet fusion of medium and message testifies not only to the metaphysical mastery of Tàpies’ art, but also to his urgent, deeply felt humanism.

Tàpies, whose own surname means “walls” in his native Catalan, was captivated by the endless prospects of the wall as a vehicle for expression. “How many suggestions can be derived from the image of the wall and all its possible permutations!” he enthused 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, objects, natural elements; a sense of struggle, of effort; of destruction, cataclysm; or of construction, re-emergence, equilibrium; traces of love, pain, disgust, disorder; the romantic prestige of ruins …” (A. Tàpies, “Communication on the Wall”, 1969, in Antoni pies. In Perspective, Barcelona, 2005, p. 79). In the composition of Ocre amb cinc entallats, all this vitality, all the life and inexorable motion of history, is contained. From its almost anthropomorphic stems of coal-black to its luminous mists of texture, this wall seems not inanimate but a living, breathing surface.

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