Antoni Tapies

Marisa Del Re

Antoni Tapies offers us an extraordinarily beautiful, highly stylized Expressionism—just what Expressionism shouldn’t be. In these works Tapies is a Paganini of touch; with sure virtuoso mastery he fiddles away, simultaneously finicky and full of flourishes, and “authentically Spanish” in his dramatic contrasts. Yet there is an air of rodomontade to the whole thing, and of brilliant pointlessness, the pointlessness of purity. In German Expressionism and American Abstract Expressionism the thick text of strokes never quite became a mere compendium of all the possibilities of touch that existed. The appearances of the world didn’t testify to “spirit,” especially not to the artist’s; vehement touch and violent contrasts were a kind of protest against and compensation for this, as well as an effort to strike a spark of a spirit beyond appearances—or at least to be spirited, in the hope that

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