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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

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Richard Serra….The Matter of Time

Yesterday, when i researched for the blog on Museum  Voorlinden, i noticed that one of the rooms of the museum contains a Richard Serra. There are several in the Netherland to be found. Kroller Muller, Stedelijk Museum, van Abbemuseum  and Boymans van Beuningen all have their Serra’s, but these are “peanuts” compared with The MATTER OF TIME in the Guggenheim /Bilbao. This is by far the ultimate Richard Serra. Placed on the surface of about 3 football fields and with a maximum height of approx. 24 feet, this is really huge. Not only huge but also very impressive. You walk around and through it and when you are surrounded by the high steel walls, it feels like a maze.

So start with the local smaller ones , work your way up to the midsize Serra’s and finally go to Bilbao see the Guggenheim Museum by Frank Gehry, enjoy the tapas in the old market square and finalize your visit by loosing yourself in one of the great ( certainly the greatest in size) sculptures of Modern Times. The matter of Time by Richard Serra.

www.ftn-books.com has some nice books on Serra available.

This is the text from the official site of the Guggenheim Museum on this great sculpture by Richard Serra:

Richard Serra

The Matter of Time

Richard Serra has long been acclaimed for his challenging and innovative work. As an emerging artist in the early 1960s, Serra helped change the nature of artistic production. Along with the Minimalist artists of his generation, he turned to unconventional, industrial materials and accentuated the physical properties of his work. Freed from the traditional pedestal or base and introduced into the real space of the viewer, sculpture took on a new relationship to the spectator, whose experience of an object became crucial to its meaning. Viewers were encouraged to move around—and sometimes on, in, and through—the work and encounter it from multiple perspectives. Over the years Serra has expanded his spatial and temporal approach to sculpture and has focused primarily on large-scale, site-specific works that create dialogue with a particular architectural, urban, or landscape setting.

Snake, a work made for the inauguration of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, consists of three enormous, serpentine ribbons of hot-rolled steel that are permanently installed in the museum’s largest gallery. The two tilted, snaking passages capture a rare sense of motion and instability. Snake is now joined by seven commissioned works-creating the installation entitled The Matter of Time—Serra’s most complete rumination on the physicality of space and the nature of sculpture.

The Matter of Time enables the spectator to perceive the evolution of the artist’s sculpted forms, from his relatively simple double ellipse to the more complex spiral. The final two works in this evolution are built from sections of toruses and spheres to create environments with differing effects on the viewer’s movement and perception. Shifting in unexpected ways as viewers walk in and around them, these sculptures create a dizzying, unforgettable sensation of space in motion. The entirety of the room is part of the sculptural field: As with his other multipart sculptures, the artist purposefully organizes the works to move the viewer through them and their surrounding space. The layout of works in the gallery creates passages of space that are distinctly different—narrow and wide, compressed and elongated, modest and towering—and always unanticipated. There is also the progression of time. There is the chronological time it takes to walk through and view The Matter of Time, between the beginning and end of the visit. And there is the experiential time, the fragments of visual and physical memory that linger and recombine and replay.