Fundació Antoni Tàpies

Top choice gallery in L'Eixample
Image by Damien Simonis / Getty Images

The Fundació Antoni Tàpies is both a pioneering Modernista building (completed in the early 1880s) and the major collection of leading 20th-century Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies. Tàpies died in February 2012, aged 88. Known for his esoteric work, he left behind a powerful range of paintings and a foundation intended to promote contemporary artists.

The building, designed by Domènech i Montaner for the publishing house Editorial Montaner i Simón (run by a cousin of the architect), combines a brick-covered iron frame with Islamic-inspired decoration. Tàpies crowned it with the meanderings of his own mind, a work called Núvol i Cadira (Cloud and Chair), which spirals above the building like a storm.

Although it's difficult to understand the art of Antoni Tàpies, in his work he expressed a number of themes, such as left-wing politics and humanitarianism; the practices of Zen meditation and its relationship between nature and insight; incarnation as seen in Christian faith; and art as alchemy or magic.

He launched the Fundació in 1984 to promote contemporary art, donating a large part of his own work. The collection spans the arc of Tàpies’ creations (with more than 2000 works) and contributions from other contemporary artists. In the two main exhibition areas you can see an ever-changing selection of around 20 Tàpies works, from early 1940s self-portraits to grand items like Jersei negre (Black Jumper; 2008). Rotating exhibitions take place in the basement levels.