“Antoni Clavé”

Antoni Clavé, a multiplier

In Paris, until 25 February, the BnF is presenting a short but stunning retrospective featuring lithographs and engravings by Antoni Clavé, accompanied by the publication of a new catalogue raisonné on his engravings. Spotlight on this event. Antoni Clavé once bathed in glory but over time, the tide has ebbed. In the 1950s up to the 1980s, his models, his kings and warriors, and his bullfights in earthy ochre and black tones gained a certain renown. Subjects that might seem a little dated today, like Bernard Buffet and his clowns some would argue. “Above all, he was a humble artist who steered clear of honours,” remarks Aude Hendgen, an art historian for the Archives de Clavé and head of the catalogue raisonné recently published by Skira. “In Barcelona, he always refused having a museum devoted to him despite several proposals.” A Clavé Galerie does exist, but in Japan: the first venue to be entirely dedicated to the artist, designed by Tadao Ando, and inaugurated in March 2011 in Yamanashi, near Tokyo – after the artist’s death, therefore, in 2005. Today, the exhibition at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF), “Antoni Clavé, estampes”, mounted following the donation of 92 prints by Clavé’s grandchildren, displays fifty or so pieces executed between 1955 and 1995. The fruit of numerous techniques: lithography, etching, aquatinting, engraving, carborundum engraving, goffering, collage and lithography on Kraft paper. The exhibition’s aim, according to one of its curators Céline Chicha-Castex, is to establish a link between Clavé’s engraved and painted work, and to reveal a few of his references. But above all, it is to bring back into the spotlight an artist who has been a little neglected, left in the shadows of other great Catalans: Antoni Clavé, the bridge that one could nonetheless place between Joan Miró and...

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