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Avant-garde sculptor and painter Antoni Tapies dies

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-02-07

Catalan avant-garde artist Antoni Tapies, has died aged 88, his art foundation said Tuesday. He began as a surrealist painter then moved towards informal art, incorporating waste paper, rags and other material into his canvases.

AFP - Avant-garde Spanish painter and sculptor Antoni Tapies, one of the biggest names in European contemporary art, died in Barcelona on Monday aged 88, his art foundation said.

Tapies was hailed as "the last great artist of the 20th century" by El Mundo newspaper for a career in which he gained worldwide renown with abstract canvases and compositions in material ranging from paint to discarded clothes.

Among his more controversial works was "The Sock", a three metre-high model of a sock with a hole in its heel. The sock was a favourite motif of the artist, who said that art should be made from simple things.

Tributes immediately poured in on Monday, with the director of the major Reina Sofia art museum in Madrid, Manuel Borja-Villel, hailing Tapies as "capable of creating a new language" in visual art.

"This is a sad night... but the important thing is that we still have his works, which are extraordinary, as well as his work as a collector, his foundation and his writings," Borja-Villel said on radio station RNE.

Tapies was associated early on in his career with other major names in 20th-century art, including fellow Catalans Joan Miro and Salvador Dali.

He also met Picasso in France, according to the biography provided by the Antoni Tapies Foundation which he founded in his native Barcelona.

Like those other world-class Spanish artists, Tapies had his works widely exhibited in the United States and Europe.

The foundation confirmed his death on Monday, in an email to AFP.

Spanish media said he had been ill for some time.

In the 1960s Tapies took part in resistance against the regime of the dictator Francisco Franco, for which he was fined and briefly detained.

He later developed a strong interest in eastern spiritualism.

Spain's King Juan Carlos conferred the title of Marquess on him in 2010.

The leader of the opposition Socialist Party, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, mourned Tapies in a statement released late Monday.

"Tapies was possibly the most important Spanish artist in the second half of the 20th century," Rubalcaba said.

"Tapies was radically free in his creativity, and this freedom made itself known as much in his work as in his ethical commitment to society."

Date created : 2012-02-07