Pintura ocre, 1959

Ochre Painting, 1959
Painting, 241.5 x 190 cm

From 1952, Tàpies' work begins moving in the direction of abstraction and the artist engages in a process of experimentation, utilizing new materials such as sand, marble dust and coloured earth, making incisions that suggest grafitti or working on uneven, crumpled surfaces. By 1954, all of the earlier influences and affinities have come together in the so-called ‘material paintings'. These material paintings constitute ‘walls' with a multiplicity of interpretations, in which what is important is not the quality of the texture or the colour but the form assumed by the material and the signs impressed on it. Tàpies' interest in the material elements of painting can be seen as part of a general trend during the post-war years, when the development of the atomic bomb and the latest scientific discoveries had stimulated a keen interest in science and matter. At the same time Tàpies became interested in Eastern philosophy, with its emphasis on the reality material, on the identity of nature and man.

One consequence of this rejection of the ideal in favour of the material is the notion of the ‘formless', which, according to Georges Bataille's definition, seeks to do away with all formal categories. Civilization, in Bataille's view, emerged in opposition to nature, while the formless' dissolves the distinction between nature and culture. The informalism of Tàpies' material paintings extends beyond the merely pictorial concept to incorporate all kinds of materials and objects. This use of objects on the picture support further intensifies during the seventies. However, Tàpies utilizes objects in a calligraphic way, reducing them to the pictorial plane to offer the spectator a visual, frontal, static experience, which effectively distanes his work from the practices of arte povera or the postminimalists.

Pintura Ocre, produced in 1959, is a material work in which the informalism is expressed by means of the technical process. Various materials are distributed on the canvas in a predetermined order, and the figures and cracks that appear as the components dry do not follow the lines of any concrete figure or object. What is important is that the spectator perceives the material in a state of constant movement and change, in this way engaging with the existence of a being or an object in a transition of formation or deformation.

Technical details

Original title:
Pintura ocre
Registration number:
Tàpies, Antoni
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. Barcelona City Council long-term
Object type:
Marble dust, sand, pigment and latex on canvas
241.5 x 190 cm (height x width)
MACBA Collection. Barcelona City Council long-term loan
© Comissió Tàpies, VEGAP, Barcelona
It has accessibility resources:

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

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