Albert Ràfols-Casamada (Barcelona, 1923 - 2009) was one of Catalonia’s most important and multifaceted artists. He started drawing and painting under the guidance of his father, Albert Ràfols Cullerés, and dropped out of his architecture studies after a few years in order to concentrate on painting. He exhibited his work for the first time in 1946 in Barcelona with the group Els Vuit. A scholarship from the French government allowed him to move to Paris in 1950, and he remained there until 1954. On his return to Barcelona he soon began to hold regular exhibitions, and in 1961 he held his first show at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Barcelona (1960-1963).

Ràfols-Casamadas had a long career as a painter and writer and produced an extensive and highly regarded body of work. He was able to integrate the best of Henri Matisse and American abstract expressionism in an extremely coherent exploration of colour. Although he initially began painting figuratively, he gradually evolved towards a kind of abstraction based on the importance of colour and the use of geometric structures. In the late fifties and early sixties he began making collages and narrowing his chromatic range to an austere predominance of shades of white. In the eighties, at the peak of his creative maturity, he again began to use signs with a strong symbolic and aesthetic component and to highlight the importance of colour in his work.

He began teaching art and design in 1962 at Elisava art school and later at EINA, an art school based on the pedagogy of the Bauhaus that he co-founded in 1967 along with a group of intellectuals, teachers and artists. He was the director of the school for seventeen years. Although his literary career began quite late in life (he published his first book of poems in 1976), he nonetheless produced work in several genres such as essay and poetry, and also illustrated several Catalan literary classics. In 2000, Proa published his complete works of poetry in a single volume: Signe d’aire: obra poètica (1939-1999).

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