Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction


Antoni Tàpies
1923 - 2012
signed on the reverse
sand and mixed media on canvas
130 by 195 cm. 51 1/4 by 76 7/8 in.
Executed in 1968.
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Galerie Maeght, Paris
Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Cologne
Private Collection, Cologne
Sotheby & Co, London, 3 April 1974, Lot 51
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Paris, Galerie Maeght, Tàpies, 1969, n.p., no. 8, illustrated
Siegen, Städtische Galerie Haus Seel, Rubenspreis, 1972, p. 31, no. 15, illustrated in colour


Alexandre Cirici, Tàpies, Witness of Silence, Barcelona 1972, p. 308, no. 315, illustrated in colour
Exh. Cat., Karlsruhe, Badisher Kunstverein; Kiel, Kunsthalle zu Kiel; Linz, Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz - Wolfgang-Gurlitt-Museum, Antoni Tàpies: Werk und Zeit, 1979-80, p. 139, no. 147, illustrated
Anna Agusti, Tàpies, Obra Completa: 1961-1968, Vol. 2, Barcelona 1988, p. 429, no. 1851, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Up until the 1950s Antoni Tàpies’ work had been characterised by a heavily surrealist influence where automatic painting married symbolic autobiographical allusions. Those canvases belie the painter’s great admiration for heavyweights such as Joan Miró or Pablo Picasso, whose international reputation was even stronger in Spain. However, between 1953 and 1954, the artist’s output experienced a decisive change, one that would affect his oeuvre thereafter and which would come to play a central role in all of his two and three dimensional work. Following the example of Miró, but especially of the representatives of Art Informel such as Jean Dubuffet and Jean Fautrier, and fascinated by his reading of texts by Einstein, Heisenberg and Schrödinger about matter and the behaviour of particles, Tàpies began to introduce materials in his compositions that were considered unorthodox in painting but which are now synonymous with his practice, such as sand or dust mixed with glue and pigment. Known as “Pintura Matérica” or material painting, this particular style enabled the artist to not only represent reality by means of his paintings, but to capture reality itself in them. It was precisely during the second half of the 1950s and during the 1960s that Tàpies’ reputation became truly international, with his work featuring in numerous exhibitions in important institutions worldwide.

In 1960, Tàpies’ works were included in the now emblematic show New Forms – New Media at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York alongside those by Alberto Burri, John Chamberlain, Joseph Cornell, Claes Oldenburg and Robert Rauschenberg amongst others. That same year, Tàpies used the motif of the bed for the first time in one of his paintings; Brown Bed. The following decade was characterised by the artist’s interest in objects and their becoming a central theme in his oeuvre. Hailing from this period is Blue Bed, from 1968, which evidences Tàpies exploration of the theme throughout the years. Akin to Oldenburg’s reinterpretation of the everyday object in soft form or Rauschenberg’s assemblages in his Combines, Tàpies’ use of familiar objects in his compositions was born out of a deep desire to challenge the viewer’s conception of the reality that surrounds her. Here, Tàpies doesn’t only reinterpret the texture of a bed in the traditional sense of the idea – from a soft, welcoming piece of furniture into a harder, textured relief – but he also challenges our mental image of it by representing it in bright blue pigment. By challenging our perception of the bed, in Blue Bed Tàpies somehow achieved a much more successful representation of it, capturing its very essence on the picture plane.

Contemporary Art Day Auction