Antoni Tàpies' ‘eye’, his way of perceiving things, of looking around himself without limits of time and space, in a striving for answers about the Universe, human nature, art, the mystery of life. A year after the death of the brilliant Catalan artist (Barcelona, 1923-2012), a key exponent of international informal art, the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia and the Axel and May Vervoordt Foundation pay tribute to him in Venice with a fascinating exhibition aiming to reveal the essence of the art produced by this major figure in 20th-century art. It does so through his ‘own gaze’ and hence through those cultural, artistic and emotional references he discerned in a plurality of expressions and in the most varied works of art forming part of his own private collection.

“Tàpies. The eye of the artist” will run from 1st June to 24th November at Palazzo Fortuny as part of the “Muve Contemporary” programme organised by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia on the occasion of the Biennale International Exhibition of Art.

His “gaze” was directed both inwards and outwards at the same time.

Tàpies, who in his long life gained the highest recognition, including a gold medal for the Fine Arts from King Juan Carlos of Spain, an honorary degree from the Royal College of Art in London (1981), and the painting prize from the Venice Biennale in 1993, constantly sought answers to the mysteries of existence and the common features of humanity, leaving aside genres, time and place; an intrinsic sense, a “universal power” in things from which to draw stimuli and possible lines of development. He explored ancient, modern or contemporary art of various genres and provenance, products of distant cultures such as Asian and African art, plus music, poetry, philosophy and science, used to “fertilise” contemporary art.

Tàpies was influenced by philosophers, theologians and scientists, as well as by the greatest Old Masters and contemporary artists. The osmosis sparked off by these influences guided him through life, not only as artist, but also as collector. Embracing the unknown and exploring these paradoxes, Tàpies became a prolific and inspired artist.

Realised in close collaboration with the Tàpies family, and laid out in the intimate and extremely appropriate setting of the home of Mariano Fortuny – himself a Spaniard and eclectic collector – the exhibition curated by Daniela Ferretti, Natasha Hébert, Toni Tàpies and Axel Vervoordt with the scientific direction of Gabriella Belli will present a selection of the artist’s key works, reinterpreted within the context of his private collection with the aim of gaining a sense of how Tàpies looked at the world – his “gaze” – as artist and collector.

Alongside paintings by the Catalan artist, selected from an intuitive and emotional stance rather than a chronological one (and the exhibition will include such masterpieces as the large, ambiguous "Esfinx" (1989), the hypnotic "Ulls i creus en vertical" (2008) and the recent "Cossos", painted on panel in 2011), there will be a number of works by other artists of the 20th century, such as Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Kazuo Shiraga, Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock and Jannis Kounellis and a number of antique Oriental and tribal sculptures. All of them works from the private home of Tàpies and in many cases displayed to the public here for the first time.

There will be some important artists’ books with powerful lithographs, produced by Tàpies in collaboration with writers and poets (including El Pa a la Barca by Joan Brossa, 1963, La nuit grandissante by Jacques Dupin, 1968, Air by André du Bouchet, 1971 and Roman Elegies by Joseph Brodsky, 1993), and it will be possible to listen to the music of the 20th-century composers who most fascinated him: Schönberg, Alban Berg, Shelsi, John Cage and Anton Webern.

Finally, a tribute to the art and eclectic personality of Antoni Tàpies will be paid by some of the greatest artists alive today who are close to him, or like Tàpies are involved in seeking out answers to the great unexplainable mysteries of life: Perejaume Borrell, Anthony Caro, Lawrence Carroll, Sadaharu Horio, Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Kichizaemon XV Raku, Shiro Tsujimura and Gunther Uecker.

The catalogue (MER/Paper Kunsthalle, 2013, provided in Italy by Skira) will present all the works on display in the exhibition, together with some other of Antoni Tàpies’ favourite works and books. The texts will be by Natasha Hébert-Tàpies – an essay inspired by the artist’s writings – and by Axel Vervoordt, who will be examining the “artist’s gaze”.

Palazzo Fortuny
San Marco, 3780 – San Beneto
Venice 30124 Italy
Ph. 848082000 (from Italy)
Ph. +39 041 42730892 (from abroad)

Opening Times
10am – 6pm (ticket office 10am - 5pm)
Closed on Tuesday

Full 10,00 €
Reduced 8,00 €