The name Tàpies is synonymous with a problematic modernity. His work occupies the latter half and demonstrates an extraordinary understanding of the cultural movements of his time. Nonetheless, the figure of Tàpies revolves around his great individualism, marked by an autobiography constructed from personal memories that has acquired a confessional and mythical character. While it cannot be said that his work was ignored by the great museums of modernity and the history of the art of the twentieth century, the fact remains that institutions have been reluctant to take on board those tensions of which Tàpies is a symptom.

An important part of Tàpies’ work was made under the Franco dictatorship. During this period he became an international icon: despite the dictatorship’s climate of repression, it would seem that the articulation of an aesthetic modernity was still possible. And yet, this widely successful modernity – represented by abstraction in full accord with the equally successful liberalism of the time – was lacking a critical perspective. In contrast to the Anglo-Saxon world, where modernity had a double strand (hence the terms modernity-modernism), Tàpies represented a modernity lacking in social correspondence. Hence his reputation as a hermetic and complex artist.

It was not until the advent of democracy that the political dimension of Tàpies’ work became apparent. But, when the moment came, his aesthetic identity had not yet changed substantially. In fact, the same forms of the preceding years would now be read in a more political and critical way. This turned Tàpies into a model of peripheral modernity, forced to negotiate its international circulation and its symbolic value both inside the country and abroad. In the process of this negotiation, a form of production of genuine and unique signs arose that gave Tàpies’ work its ambiguous and polysemic character.

The Fundació Antoni Tàpies and the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona present an international seminar to analyse and debate the character of this peripheral modernity represented by Tàpies’ work. Among the guest speakers are Dawn Ades, Xavier Antich, Bernard Blistène, Isabel Capeloa Gil, Luis Pérez de Oramas, Laurence Rassel and Barry Schwabsky. Among the replicants are Maria Josep Balsach, Carles Guerra, Antonio Monegal, Martí Peran, and Valentín Roma.


18–19 OCTOBER 2013
Auditori MACBA

Co-organised by the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) and the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA).

Simultaneous translation.


6 pm. Introduction by Bartomeu Marí, director of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA); Pepe Serra, director of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC); and Laurence Rassel, director of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies.

6.30–7.45 pm Dawn Ades: ‘Tàpies’ early work: from Box of Strings to Dau al Set.’ Reply by Maria Josep Balsach.

7.45–9 pm Isabel Capeloa Gil: ‘From the periphery to the alternative and from the alternative to the periphery. Contemporary meanings of modernity.’ Reply by Antonio Monegal.


10 am Introduction, presentation and conclusions from the previous day by Laurence Rassel.

10.30–11.45 am Barry Schwabsky: ‘Laughing with Franco: Tapies and Re-Nationalization.’ Reply by Valentín Roma.

11.45 am Coffee break.

12.15–1.30 pm Luis Pérez-Oramas: ‘Traumatic modernity, policies of the unfathomable.’ Reply by Martí Peran.

1.30 pm Lunch.

4–5.15 pm Bernard Blistène: ‘What has become of teachers?’ Reply by Carles Guerra.

5.15 pm Conclusion by Xavier Antich.


Dawn Ades. Professor of Art History and Theory at the University of Essex, now partially retired, and Professor of Art History at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Member of the Tate Board of Trustees (1995–2005) and the National Gallery (1998–2005). She was made Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to Art History and university education in 2013. She has curated and co-curated, among other exhibitions, Dada and Surrealism Reviewed (with D. Sylvester and E. Cowling) (1978); Art in Latin America: The Modern Era 1820–1980 (1989); Art and Power: Europe under the Dictators (1994); Fetishism: Visualising Power and Desire (1995); Dalí’s Optical Illusions (2000); Salvador Dalí: Centenary (2004); Undercover Surrealism: Georges Bataille and Documents (with Simon Baker) (2006); Close-Up: Proximity and Defamiliarisation in Art, Film and Photography (with Simon Baker) (2008); and The Colour of My Dreams: The Surrealist Revolution in Art (2011). She has published Photomontage (1976; 1986); Salvador Dalí (1982; 1990); André Masson (1994); Figures and Likenesses: The Painting of Siron Franco (1996); and Marcel Duchamp (with N. Cox and D. Hopkins) (1999), among others. She has recently co-edited Surrealism in Latin America: Vivísimo muerto (2012) and curated the historical section, ‘The Age of Coal: An Undergound History of the Modern’, for Manifesta 9, Genk (2012).

Xavier Antich. Philosopher, lecturer in Aesthetic Ideas and director of the Masters in Communication and Criticism at the Universitat de Girona (UdG). He was director of the Independent Study Programme at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and is currently the president of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies’ Board of Trustees. He was a professor of PhD studies at the Iberian and Latin American Cultures Department, Stanford University, the Faculty of Philosophy of the Universitat de Barcelona and the Blanquerna Communication School at the Universitat Ramon Llull. He is currently engaged in research in the fields of aesthetics and contemporary art, with special attention to the theories that arose after 1967 and the artistic practices of the last forty years. Some of his works are centred on musical aesthetics. He is a member of the advisory board of Cultura/s, La Vanguardia’s cultural supplement, and an elected councillor of the National Council for Culture and the Arts at the Parlament de Catalunya. He is the author of El rostre de l’altre. Passeig filosòfic per l’obra d’Emmanuel Lévinas (1993), and Antoni Tàpies. Certeses sentides (2000), among other books, and the editor of Antoni Tàpies. En blanc i negre. Assaigs 1955–2003 (2008)

Maria Josep Balsach. Professor of Contemporary Art History, and director of the Department of Contemporary Art and Culture at the Universitat de Girona (UdG). She has written numerous theoretical essays on the art and aesthetics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries from an interdisciplinary perspective, such as Joan Miró. Cosmogonies d’un món originari (2007), winner of the Ciutat de Barcelona Prize for essays. Director of the international seminar L’Art i els seus llocs. A l’entorn de l’obra d’Antoni Tàpies (UdG, 2000) and winner of the international prize Espais de Crítica d’Art for her text ‘Arnold Schönberg’s immaterial art’. She is currently the director of the European project ‘European Live Art Archive (ELAA)’, in collaboration with the University of Oxford and GlogauAir, Berlin. Among her own creations are Poemes de Brisgòvia (1992) and Galítzia/Galicja (2009).

Bernard Blistène. Director of the Departament of Cultural Development at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and artistic director of the fifth edition of the Nouveau festival at the Centre Pompidou, which opens on 19 February 2014. Her latest publications are on the work of Enrico Castellani and Dadamaino. She is currently preparing a book on Daniel Buren, which will be published shortly, and the publication of her thesis on the Black Mountain College.

Isabel Capeloa Gil. Associate Professor of Cultural Theory at the Faculdade de Ciências Humanas de la Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP), Lisbon; senior researcher at the Centro de Estudos de Comunicação e Cultura (CECC), Lisbon; and honorary member of the School of Advanced Study at the University of London. Dean of the Faculdade de Ciências Humanas at the UCP, (2005–12, and currently vice-rector of the UCP. She has written for various national and international publications on the representations of violence, women’s studies, cultural theory and visual theory. Her latest research is on the peripheral constructions of modernity.

Carles Guerra. Artist, critic and independent curator. He was director of La Virreina Centre de la Imatge, where he presented projects such as Antifotoperiodisme (2010) and 1979. Un monument a instants radicals (2011). In 2011–13 he was chief curator at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA). He is currently preparing a presentation of the Philippe Méaille Collection of Art & Language deposited at MACBA. Since 2001 he has been a consultant at Cultura/s, La Vanguardia’s cultural supplement.

Antonio Monegal. Professor of Literary Theory and Comparative Literature at the Department of Humanities of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. He was a lecturer at Cornell University and has taught at Harvard and Princeton colleges. He is the author of the books Luis Buñuel de la literatura al cine: Una poética del objeto (1993) and En los límites de la diferencia: Poesía e imagen en las vanguardias hispánicas (1998), among others. He has edited García Lorca’s works El público, El sueño de la vida (2000) and Viaje a la luna (1994), and coordinated the anthology Literatura y pintura (2000). He has recently compiled the book Política y (po)ética de las imágenes de guerra (2007). He was one of the curators of the exhibition En guerra organised by the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) for Fòrum Barcelona, 2004. He is currently coordinator of the Masters in Comparative Literature, Art and Thought Studies at the Department of Humanities of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona.

Martí Peran. Lecturer in Art Theory at the Universitat de Barcelona, critic and curator. He has contributed to numerous books and contemporary art catalogues and is a regular writer for specialised magazines and publications (Exit Express, Artforum International). Co-editor of the magazine Roulotte. He has conducted workshops and seminars on art criticism and curatorial practices and lectured in different museums and institutions. He has recently curated Arquitecturas para el acontecimiento (2002); Stand by. Listos para actuar (2003); Corner (2004-2005); Mira cómo se mueven. 4 ideas sobre movilidad (2005); Glaskultur. ¿Qué pasó con la transparencia? (2006); Post-it city. Occasional Cities (2008; 2009–11); After Architecture (2009); Para Bellum 12mm (2009); Ceci n’est pas une voiture. Artefactos móviles acechan al museo and Estilo indirecto (2011).

Luis Pérez-Oramas. Writer, poet and art historian. Lecturer in Art History at the Université de Haute Bretagne-Rennes 2, Rennes (1987–91); at the École Régionale Superieure des Beaux Arts de Nantes, Nantes (1992–94); and at the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Artes Plásticas Armando Reverón, Caracas (1995–2002). Member of the Board of Trustees of the Galería de Arte Nacional, Caracas (1995–2001) and curator of the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, Caracas (1995–2002). In 2003 he became assistant curator at the Department of Drawings of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. He was director and chief curator of the São Paulo Biennale, 2012, and curator of the Brazilian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013). He is currently co-curator of a Lygia Clark retrospective at MoMA, New York, programmed for 2014. He is the author of six books on art and political critique: Armando Reverón, de los prodigios de la luz a los trabajos del arte (1990); La década impensable y otros escritos fechados (1996); Mirar Furtivo (1997); La cocina de Jurassic Park y otros ensayos visuales (1998); Gego: Anudamientos (2004); and An Atlas of Drawings: Transforming Chronologies (2006).

Valentín Roma. PhD in Art History and Philosophy from Southampton University (Winchester School of Art) and lectures in Aesthetics at Elisava-Pompeu Fabra. He has curated, among other exhibitions: Manolo Laguillo. Reason and City (2013), Against Tàpies (2013), F.X. Archive/Pedro G. Romero. Wirstchaft, Ökonomie, Konjunktur (2012), Human, All Too Human. Spanish Art from the 50s and 60s. La Caixa Foundation Contemporary Art Collection (2010-2011) and Venezia-Catalunya: The Unavowable Community, the first Catalan pavilion for the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009). He has recently published the essay Rostros (Faces).

Barry Schwabsky. Art critic for The Nation magazine and co-editor of international reviews for Artforum. He published Words for Art: Criticism, History, Theory, Practice in 2013 and is the author of the poetry collection Trembling Hand Equilibrium, to be published shortly.

Public Programmes
programespublics [at] macba [dot] cat
Tel: 93 481 46 81




Antoni Tàpies. Retrospectiva (2ª part)
Antoni Tàpies. Retrospectiva (1ª part)
Bernard Blistène: ‘What has become of teachers?’
Luis Pérez-Oramas: ‘Traumatic modernity, policies of the unfathomable’
Barry Schwabsky: ‘Laughing with Franco: Tapies and Re-Nationalization.’
Isabel Capeloa Gil: ‘From the periphery to the alternative and from the alternative to the periphery’
Dawn Ades: ‘Tàpies’ early work: from Box of Strings to Dau al Set.’
Conclusion of the seminar 'Tàpies as a Symptom' by Xavier Antich