Gray with three pink lines, 1964
Galerie Stadler, Paris.
Private Collection, Stockholm.
Cavaliero Fine Arts, New York, no. 1793.
Private Collection, USA, acquired from the above in 1993.
Penrose, Antoni Tàpies: Paintings 1945 – 1965, exh. cat., Institute for Contemporary Art, London, 1965, no. 22 (illus.)
Cirici, Tàpies: Témoin du Silence, Barcelona, 1971, p. 266 (illus. pl. 271).
Agustí, Tàpies: The Complete Works, Volume 2: 1961 – 1968, Barcelona, 1990, pp. 213 and 491, no. 1305 (illus.)
London, Institute for Contemporary Art, Antoni Tàpies: Paintings 1945 – 1965, 3 June – 3 July 1965, no. 22.
‘The adventure only starts when painting is backed up against the wall, when it evolves from being a support – a pretext – to being the essence’ (M. Tàpies, 1959).
Grey with three pink lines articulates Tàpies’s fascination with the materiality of painting. Its strong visual presence is enlivened by its surface effect, achieved by the combination of oil and sand. Inspired by his exposure to Buddhism and Zen philosophy in the 1950s, Tàpies conceived of painting as a physical wall or doorway marking a divide between two states of reality or understanding: ‘that play of emptiness and fullness which composes everything and which reveals the meaning of nature’ (‘Communication on the Wall’, in Antoni Tàpies: Perspective, exh. cat., Museu d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona, 2004, p. 79).
Walls held personal significance for Tàpies, whose name means ‘wall’ in Catalan. During his childhood, walls sheltered him from the violence on the streets of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War; he was enclosed by them during the day, while in the evening he witnessed the ravages of the conflict written on the dusty walls of his city. The scratches, graffiti, bullet holes and other surface damages that he observed would in turn be translated into paintings such as Grey with three pink lines. In 1948, Tàpies helped to found the first Post-War Movement in Spain, Dau al Set, which was associated with the Surrealist and Dada movements. He began exploring abstraction in 1953 and his international reputation was well established by the late 1950s. Tàpies is best known for his Matter Paintings, including Grey with three pink lines, characterised by the addition of marble dust, clay and sand to pigments.