Artwork Detail

Blanco y Grafismos (White with Graphism)
Spanish, 1923–2012
Mixed media on canvas
79 x 69 "
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard K. Weil, 1963
WU 4067
© Fundació Antoni Tàpies / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid
Catalan painter Antoni Tàpies was an active proponent of the postwar European movement known as tachisme, or art informel. Parting with design principles that emphasized geometric order and rational forms, tachisme instead favored not only a more expressive, lyrical style of abstract painting, but also the use of nontraditional, often organic materials such as gravel and wood. In Blanco y Grafismos, Tàpies created a richly textured surface using sand mixed with oil paint, one of the so-called matter paintings he began producing in the mid-1950s. While abstract, this particular composition harbors visual references to concrete structures like walls and doorframes. Especially compelling is how Tàpies’s use of materials conjures powerful associations through textures, not just through the shape of things: the rough surface of the canvas itself resembles a wall marred over time by nicks and scratches. By inscribing the canvas with these markings, Tàpies alludes, overtly or obliquely, to the anti-fascist graffiti he surely knew from the sides of buildings in Barcelona during the Franco regime (1939–75); at the same time, the marks convey the impression of an almost cave-like interior, evoking art’s primordial origins in the human need for self-expression.