THAT ANTONI TÀPIES IS a key figure in the Spanish and international art world is widely recognized, yet his work has often been the subject of superficial and stereotypical interpretations. Possibly the most common of these is the association of this Catalan artist's paintings with gray and earth colors, with thick, elaborate surfaces, and with the use of everyday substances as media—cardboard, string, ashes, thread. Early on, critics labeled his work “matéria,” “matter painting,” and emphasized certain of its formal aspects—its textural and compositional qualities, the relationship of one medium to another within a work, and so on. These approaches have their validity, but they are one-sided, and have led to a misconception of Tàpies’ development as divided into autonomous periods, almost airtight separate compartments. Furthermore, until recently there was a tendency to underrate one of

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