Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction


Antoni Tàpies
1923 - 2012
signed, titled and dated 1954 on the reverse
oil on canvas
81 by 100cm.; 31 7/8 by 39 3/8 in.
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George David Thompson Collection, Pittsburgh
Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Turin, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna; Zurich, Kunsthaus; Dusseldorf, Kunstmuseum; The Hague, De Gemeentemuseum, The Thompson Collection, 1960-61
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Tàpies, 1962


Anna Agusti, Tàpies: The Complete Works, Vol. I, 1943-1960, Barcelona 1988, p. 236, no. 495, illustrated (incorrectly described)

Catalogue Note

L'Abraçada is a rare brown painting from a particularly remarkable period in Tápies’ artistic career. Executed in 1954, the present work marks a significant transition from his surrealist phase to the breakthrough of his ‘matter paintings’.  Throughout the postwar years, Tápies was strongly influenced by artists such as Max Ernst, Paul Klee and Joan Miró, all of whose presence is evident in his work from this particular phase, famously known as the artist’s ‘Magic Period’. Whereas the delicate lines and abstract composition in  L'Abraçada suggest the surrealist elements of Miró, the scratched and etched lines evoke a wall-like, low-relief painting and can be seen as a first reaction to Art Informel.

In 1954 Tápies met and became friends with the French art critic and curator Michel Tapié, who used the term ‘Art Informel’ to refer to the anti-geometric, anti-naturalistic and nonfigurative formal preoccupations of an art stressing the looseness of form and the irrational – a radical break with all traditional notions of order and composition; in Tápies’ words: “I was searching for images which would be impossible to describe either as amorphous or precise, full or empty, in which one cannot tell where the bodies begin and the space ends. It seemed to be the will to show more than ever the trap of reason, the ‘net’ of the world… And I put all this into practice not with the simplifications of the classical ‘abstracts’, but rather with techniques which were more experimental and more unusual, which had been touched upon only by some of the masters of the surrealist period.” (Antoni Tápies, Memoria Personal, Barcelona 1977, pp. 297-98)

For Tàpies all his work is an ongoing process of investigation into the mystery of existence made through an intuitive exploration of matter. “A picture is nothing” he has said, “it is a door that leads to another door...The truth we seek will never be found in a picture: it will only appear behind the last door that the viewer succeeds in opening by his own efforts.” (Antoni Tàpies quoted in: Exh. Cat., New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Tàpies, 1995, p. 36). Time and material are interdependent and eventually part of the same entity. Time, as a concept, can only be experienced through its effects on material. All matter is in a constant state of transformation and the precise nature or form that it takes is determined by the passing of time and, perhaps, by the intervention of a third party such as an artist. L'Abraçada lyrically symbolises the intellectual voyage Tápies has undergone to affirm himself as one of Spain’s leading artists.

Contemporary Art Day Auction