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talks to Serafin Garcia Ibanez
Born in Barcelona in 1923, Antoni Tapies is one of the greatest Spanish artists of our time. Largely self-taught, he was influenced early in his career by the Dadaists and the Surrealists and then in the 1950s he engaged in the experimentation with informalism for which he became famous. Major museums began to hold exhibitions of his work and in 1958 an entire room was devoted to it at the Venice Biennale. Awards from UNESCO and the Carnegie Foundation testified to his growing international reputation. He has a highly personal way of using materials, constructing his compositions from commonplace and discarded objects -- packaging, sand, marble dust, latex, cast iron, rags -- mixed with thick impasto and incised with expressive graffiti-like markings. His later assemblages incorporate objects such as buckets, mirrors and even larger items. He has written widely about his art, and a volume of Conversations with Antoni Tapies was published in 1991 (Prestel Verlag, Germany).
* You started out as a law student and then abandoned your law studies to devote yourself to painting. Did you take that decision on an impulse?
-- I had an artistic vocation. When I was a child I loved drawing. I lacked the basic skills, but as time went by I became consumed by a desire to do better than all my classmates. My father, who was a lawyer, hoped that I would follow in his footsteps and join his practice. He was so insistent that I actually studied law for five years before dropping it. Then I had the good fortune to win a scholarship awarded by the French Institute in Barcelona which enabled me to go to Paris. Those scholarships were wonderful. They carried no obligations, and although they were not worth very much financially, they provided enough to live on. For me it was an extraordinary stroke of …