Antonio Saura (1930-1998)

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When you mix Jackson Pollock with Jean Dubuffet with a topping of a little bit Picasso you get Antonio Saura. Abstraction at his best, because within the composition one always can recognize something realistic. A face , a body , some houses they are all there if you find the rest to study these great paintings. This is not simple, easy art, but it needs to be savored in a slow way. Because the fist impression is chaos, one tends to walk away from it, but just give it a minute or two and the paintings opens up to you.

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La grande foule, 1963, oil on canvas, 220 x 515 cm

It is a pity that there are so few of these fascinating Saura paintings in the Netherlands, but once you have a chance to visit the modern art museums in Spain they are easy to spot and to enjoy. www.ftn-books.com is fortunate to have a nice selection of books on Saura including the Stedelijk Museum catalogue by Wim Crouwel.

Antoni Tapies (1923-2012)

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It must have been some 12 years ago that i first visited Barcelona and found myself amazed and surprised by this city full of Gaudi and other modernista marvels, but the best find for me was the discovery and first visit of the Fundacio Antoni Tapies.

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The building itself is already worth visiting and the inside is even more spectacular. An old facade houses a very modern museum inside which houses the works donated by Antoni and Theresa Tapies. I loved its collection and it proved to me that Tapies his art is timeless, very spanish and cosmopolitan at the same time. Tapies is possibly , next to Picasso and Dali , the most important spanish name in Modern Art. He often uses large canvasses and on them paints with “earth” colors impressive abstract compositions and uses  matter in them.

In these matter paintings , the materials used are no longer simple media used to express an idea; they are the idea itself. That process produces a complete identification between material and form, between concept and language. Those works become opaque surfaces, walls on which the artist writes his graffiti and attaches the forms of objects or people. His identification with the work through his surname (in Catalan Tàpies means “walls”) expresses a more profound desire to break with Western dualism and blend with the material in a continuous formlessness.
Over the post-war years there was a general interest among artists on both sides of the Atlantic in material. Awareness of the atomic bomb and the new scientific discoveries aroused a strong curiosity in science, the new ideas about space-time and substance, while inventions such as the electronic microscope provided a new view of nature.
At the same time, Tàpies had developed an interest in Eastern philosophy, because of its emphasis on material, the identity between man and nature and its denial of the dualism of our society.

There are some excellent Tapies publications available at www.ftn-books.com

Barcelona and Antonio Gaudi

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In the next 2 weeks many people will visit the city of Barcelona. 2 instant tips…first if you like cigars, go to Gimeno on the Ramblas, secondly beware of pickpockets. They operate in groups in the crowded streets like the Ramblas but also in the Subway. They group around you, press against your body without no reason and somebody within the group of pickpockets, steals your wallet. But that said, this blog is not about the negatives of Barcelona, but the great places you can visit. 2 absolute musts are the Fundacio Antoni Tapies and the Fundacio Joan Miro. These are two of the smaller sized museum in Barcelona. Both you can visit within a visit  of 1,5 hours and then you have seen the best Museums in Barcelona ( my opinion) and most importantly on the same location you can see the magnificent Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Pavilion.

But Barcelona is much much more and one of the highlights you will encounter every time you turn a corner in the city center is the great architecture. Of course there is Gaudi , but also Jujol. Musts are the casa Mila,the Park Güell and the ver going on project of the Sagrada Familia and by Jujol there is his famous Centre Jujol Can Negere.

If you want to prepare your visit there are some nice publications at www.ftn-books.com