Antonio Saura  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Antonio Saura (September 22, 1930 – July 22, 1998) was a Spanish artist who was born in Huesca in 1930 and died in Cuenca in 1998.


He began painting and writing in 1947 in Madrid while suffering from tuberculosis, having already been confined to his bed for five years. He claims Hans Arp and Yves Tanguy as his artistic influences, although thanks to a highly personal style, his work stands on its own. Saura created numerous drawings and paintings with a dreamlike surrealist character that most often represented imaginary landscapes, employing a flat smooth treatment that offers a rich palette of colors.

First stay in Paris in 1952, second stay in Paris in 1954 and 1955 during which he met Benjamin Péret and associated with the Surrealists, although he soon parted with the group. Joining instead in the company of his friend the painter Simon Hantaï. Using the technique of scraping, he adopted a gestural style and created an abstract type of painting, still very colorful and boasting an organic, aleatory design. He began painting by occupying the space of the canvas in several very distinct ways, creating formal structures that bear his distinctive stamp and which he will continue to develop endlessly.

The first appearances in his work of forms that will soon become archetypes of the female body or the human figure occur in the mid-1950s. Starting in 1956 Saura tackles the register of what will prove to be his greatest works: women, nudes, self-portraits, shrouds and crucifixions, which he paints on both canvas and paper. In 1957 in Madrid he founds the El Pasogroup and serves as its director until it breaks up in 1960 during that period he met Michel Tapié.

During the 1950s he has his first solo exhibition at the Rodolphe Stadler Gallery in Paris, where he will regularly show throughout his life. Stadler introduced him to Otto van de Loo in Munich and Pierre Matisse in New York City, both of whom exhibited his work and represented him, and eventually his paintings were collected by major museums. Limiting his palette to blacks, greys and browns, Saura asserted a personal style that was independent of the movements and trends of his generation. His work followed in the tradition of Velasquez and Goya. Starting in 1959 he began creating a prolific body of works in print, illustrating numerous books like Cervantes’s Don Quijote, Orwell’s 1984, Nöstlinger’s adaptation of Pinocchio, Kafka’s Tagebücher, Quevedo’s Three Visions, and many others.

In 1960 Saura began to make sculpture, creating works made of welded metal elements which represented the human figure, characters and crucifixions. In 1967 he settled permanently in Paris, and joined the opposition to the Franco dictatorship. In France he participated in numerous debates and controversies in the fields of politics, aesthetics and artistic creation. He also broadened his thematic and pictorial register. Along with his Femmefauteuil (literally Woman armchair), he also worked on the series' Imaginary Portraits, and Goya’s Dog and Imaginary Portraits of Goya begin to take shape. In 1971 he temporarily abandoned painting on canvas to devote himself to writing, drawing and painting on paper. In 1977 he began publishing his writings, and he created several stage designs for the theatre, ballet and opera, thanks to the collaboration with his brother, the director Carlos Saura. From 1983 to his death in 1998, he revisited all of his themes and figures; and produced the best work in his entire oeuvre.

Individual Exhibitions

  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Madrid (1956)
  • Galerie Stadler, Paris (1957 & 1979)
  • Falerie Van de Loo, Munich (1959)
  • Pierre Matisse Gallery, NY (1961)
  • The Stedelijk Museum, Eindhoven (1963)
  • The Rotterdamsche Kunsling (1963)
  • The Musée de Buenos Aires (1963)
  • The Musée de Rio de Janeiro (1963)
  • The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1964)
  • The Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden (1964)
  • The Kunsthallen, Göteborg (1964)
  • Institute of Contemporary Art, London (1965)
  • Galerie Maeght, Barcelona (1975 & 1984)
  • The Abbaye de Sénanque, Gordes (1985)


  • Saura in Cuenca, monograph. Phrases: Georgina Oliver - images: Félix Rozen. Borgen. Copenhagen, 1983 (limited edition: 1000 copies)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Antonio Saura" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools