Antoni Clavé Rooms, Palace of the Generalitat of Catalonia

The Antoni Clavé Rooms adjoin the Conference Room and occupy the rest of the space under the Courtyard of the Orange Trees. The rooms Antoni Clavé, on the ground floor, correspond to the Pati dels Tarongers, on the main floor, named after the prominent Catalan artist Antoni Clavé i Sanmartí (1913–2005), who was commissioned to paint a series of large pieces for the space.

which was emptied of land to build these spaces in the days of Enric Prat de la Riba (1912) under the direction of Josep Puig i Cadafalch. They are dedicated to Antoni Clavé, an important Catalan artist (1913-2005) who specifically made the large-scale paintings on display, accompanied by a selection of especially significant works, which are displayed together with a selection of his earlier and especially significant pieces.

They were installed in the Palace in 1993. They form the porch of the Auditorium or conference room, complement their use and give entry to the new press room.

Antoni Clavé (5 April 1913 – 1 September 2005) was a Catalan master painter, printmaker, sculptor, stage designer and costume designer. He was nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design) for his work on the 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen.

Clavé was one of Spain’s best known and most celebrated artists. His work evolved from a baroque, ornamental style to a pure, minimal aesthetic. In his later years, his work is completely abstract, employing expressive lines and exploring the boundaries of collage, objet trove, shading, texture and color. He was trained at the School of Fine Arts, Barcelona, where he was taught by Angel Ferrant and Felix Mestres. With his works being influenced by artists such as Bonnard, Vuillard and Roualt. He is best known for his lyrical abstractions, works which combine paint with collage.

Clavé fought in the Republican Army in the Spanish Civil War, and served as draughtsman for the Republican government. He arrived in France as a refugee in 1939 and went straight to Paris to work as an illustrator. His first one-man exhibition was held at the Au sans Pareil bookshop, 37 Avenue Kleber in Paris in 1940, where Max Ernst and other leading figures from the Dada movement had their first exhibitions in the 1920s. In 1944 Clavé met Picasso and began making figure compositions that were deeply influenced by Picasso’s work, featuring kings, harlequins, children, and still lives.

His theatrical designs have appeared on stages in New York, Munich, London and Paris, as well as in the 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen. His works include sets for opera, theatre, and ballet, most notably for Roland Petit’s ballet company, Les Ballets des Champs Elysees (1945-1951) including Los Caprichos (1946) Carmen (1949) and a comic ballet choreographed by Roland Petit called Deuil en 24 Heures. In 1951 he designed La maison de Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernarda Alba) for director Marcel Achard at the Theatre de l’Oeuvre in Paris, and in 1962, a production of The Marriage of Figaro for Maurice Sarrazin at Théatre de la cour de l’Archeveché in Aix-en-Provence.

In 1957 Clavé began to design carpets and from 1960 he began to work on sculptural bas reliefs, assemblages and totem-like sculptures of wood and modelled or imprinted lead. He also used some objets trouvé. In 1965 Clavé moved to the South of France, near Saint-Tropez.

His work is displayed in many museums, including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, National Museum of Serbia, Museo Patio Herreriano de Valladolid in Spain Museo Patio Herresriano, Tate Gallery, London, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, Museum of Modern Art, Paris, Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia Museo Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo and The British Museum, London.

Early in Barcelona
In 1926 he started his studies at the headquarters of Carrer Aribau in the Escola Llotja. There he will have Angel Ferrant as a sculpture teacher, and José Mongrell as a painting teacher. Some of his colleagues were the painter Emili Grau Sala and the sculptors Eduald Serra and Jordi Casals. One of Clavé’s first canvases was a copy of a landscape by Mongrell, which Pierre Cabanne reproduces in his monographic work on the painter. Clavé’s early works, then, exhibit the academicistic features of his training. In fact, Clavé explained that in his first glance at a work by Matisse he was blurred.

It was in the early 1930’s that he made his first contact with avant-garde art, thanks to his friend also the painter Salvador Ortiga, who knew first-hand the art that was being made in Paris at that time, a reference point for modernity. Clavé’s interest in the technique of collage and the use of unorthodox materials in the field of painting arose then. In 1936 he also visited an exhibition of Picasso in Barcelona, which greatly influenced his work.

In 1933 he started his career as a film poster artist. Working at Can Tolosa, he learned that CINAES, a film distributor and the most important art company in Barcelona, was looking for a poster artist who illustrated large panels with films premiering week after week at the door of some of the cinemas. who were part of the company. His signs are easily recognizable, with a style that has clear influences of cubism, art-deco and surrealism. Clavé did not appeal to the reproduction of the image of an actor or a frame of the film, but instead created his own style, characterized by simplification of forms.

In 1936, with the outbreak of the Civil War, and when he had gained fame as a poster artist, he was called in front, so he had to temporarily abandon his artistic career. After the conflict, he took refuge in Paris.

Paris and the theatrical sets
In the French capital, he met other exiles, such as Grau Sala, Martí Bas and Apel•les Fenosa, among others. In parallel with the advertising work, in the 1930’s he made a mainly cartoonistic work, with surrealistic and dreamlike echoes but marked by a gentle nostalgic decorative grace, a little in the manner of his friend Grau Sala. The first few years, however, live on small orders of circumstance. Until the mid-1950’s, Clavé had two main dedications: the illustration of bibliophile books, of which Rabelais’s Gargantua is the highlight, and the decoration and production of stage sets and costumes. of theater and music, with which it will achieve more than remarkable success. He began in 1946 with balletLos Caprichos, inspired by Goya etchings, for the company of the Champs-Elysées. Also worthy of note is Roland Petit’s commission for the Carmen Ballet, whose sets will continue to be in use until the 1990’s.

It is to be borne in mind that the discovery of the best art of the Parisian museums was a great shock to him, and his first pictorial work was influenced by Vuillard and especially Pierre Bonnard.

Due to his residence in this city, he has joined the well-known Paris School with other artists of other nationalities, but also with the Spanish Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Joan Miró or Antonio Saura, artists with whom he shared residence in the French capital and more than specific artistic trends.

In 1944 he met Picasso personally, a fact which marked him throughout his life, and it was a friendship that lasted until the death of the artist from Malaga. Since then, he has abandoned the path he has begun and has begun to develop a work with much different and less classical art.

Kings and Warriors series
While developing theatrical scenery, Clavé began working on illustrations by Gargantúa, which led him to become familiar with medieval iconography, which he developed in his famous series of warriors, kings, queens and knights, that in the beginning they were represented in a certain realism, but that as the time went on, the abstraction within the evolution of his pictorial work was gaining ground. The figures lose precision and form, giving way to the stroke and a personal range of colors and textures as the main protagonists of his works. However, Clavé’s painting will always retain some figurative element, which will serve to structure it from his compositions.

In 1952 he participated in the film Hans Christian Andersen (“Andersen Magnificent”), directed by Charles Vidor, being responsible to realize the scenery (along with Richard Day and Howard Bristol) and costumes (along with Mary Willis and Barbara Karinska), work for which she has been an Oscar nominee. However, from 1954 he abandoned painting and devoted himself to painting.

In the 1960 ‘s, Domenikos Theotokopoulos’s “El Greco” tribute was honored by the artist. In this age you can clearly see the influences of the classics and the Baroque period. Of particular relevance is the theme of the knight from hand to chest, which is a reference, especially the hand, which will be repeated in Clavé’s future work. At this time it is characterized by the definitive step towards the abstraction in its work, where it clearly overlaps the figure or the theme chosen by the artist.

In the 1970’s Clavé continued its evolution of shapes and colors, using a variety of techniques, such as collage or ” trompe-l’oeil “, even inventing new ones like the “papier froissé” fruit of a technical causation in the use of aerosol on wrinkled papers and which he used in a very personal way, not only in this age but in later times.

In 1978 the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, now the Center Georges Pompidou, dedicated the first retrospective to it, which made Clavé one of the most prestigious artists of his generation.

The 1980’s were notable for Picasso’s series “A Don Pablo”, which was inspired by Picassian prints, as well as the influences he received on two major travels to Japan and New York, where it distills the aspects that most caught the attention of the historical and social culture of these places. Antoni Clavé with the Gold Medal of the Generalitat de Catalunya in 1984.

In addition, he won the City of Barcelona and National Fine Arts Award. It is also important to highlight the retrospective that was presented at the Palau de la Virreina in 1989, and the following year, a large anthological exhibition at the Palau Robert, both in Barcelona. Already in 1990, the Barcelona City Council commissioned a monumental totem of steel and concrete to commemorate the Centennial of the 1988 Universal Exhibition, which is installed in the Ciutadella Park.

Last years of life
His works in the 1990s and beginning of the century xxi are known for recreating the textures in the abstract with a profuse use of “offending papiers” and other themes used in previous stages.

The international recognition of this artist is evident in the profusion of his works in important collections, both private and public, in different countries of the world such as France, Japan, United States, Switzerland and Korea among others. In March 2013, the centenary celebrations began with a painting exhibition in the Can Framis Museum of the Vila Casas Foundation.

In 1993, the Antoni Clavé Rooms were inaugurated, at the Palau de la Generalitat, where you can enjoy a permanent exhibition of the work from 1958 to 1993. Recently, two major exhibitions praised the insigne’s work artist: the first, in La Pedrera de Barcelona in 1996, and the last, at the Centro Cultural Conde Duque de Madrid in 1999. Finally, after his death on August 31, 2005, the Joan Abelló Municipal Foundation organized a great retrospective exhibition in March 2006, the first by a public entity after his death, to praise once again and deserve the figure of Antoni Clavé. In this retrospective, the heritage legacy that the artist has left to us through his plastic creation, was appreciated, as a result of a solo and silent struggle, but which has resulted in an exceptional work of sincere spirit, singular and sensitive, open to all plastic inventions and beyond all borders, both geographical and temporal.

His style
Antoni Clavé used painting, sculpture, drawing, engraving, posters, ceramics, theatrical scenery, collage or book illustration, among other disciplines. He start a new path, struggle for a unique and unique language was taking shape. On the one hand, it sought to achieve the search, simplification and purification of form, on the other, it sought to cross the boundary between figuration and abstraction, elements which constituted the workhorse that focused on the problem of its generation.

Settled in Paris, Clavé discovered Rouault and Soutine’s impetuosity. From his encounters with Rabelais comes the idea of ​​creating great series, a feature that would be a hallmark of his work for many years. Series of mannequins, kings, warriors or still lifes were the most valuable and outstanding examples of his painting. This is the moment when works like this Le Roi, 1957, are born, figures that start from the drawing of the human figure, the face, where there is the manifestation and externalization of thought, of sensitivity. This is a time when the figurative referent is still essential in composition, although it will gradually be synthesized towards a much more gesture-free stroke and released in the preconceived way for a much more expressive and suggestive dialogue. In this section, Clavé’s imagination has no limits, surprising us every time with his creative endowment. As early as the 1950’s, their outlines were simplified, while chromatism was synthesized in the irreversible pursuit of an asceticism stripped of the expletive. Thus, in his mature years, his work evolved into abstraction, following a line of formal schema debugging.

Palace of the Generalitat of Catalonia
The Palau de la Generalitat, located in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona, is one of the few buildings of medieval origin in Europe that have been maintained as a seat of Government and for the same institution for which it was built.

The original house, on Carrer Sant Honorat, was acquired in 1400 and during the 15th century it was expanded and converted into a new gothic palace, the work of Marc Safont. Among the best preserved elements from this period are the Gothic Gallery and the Chapel of Sant Jordi.

During the 16th century, the Palau de la Generalitat grew with a new part which respected the previous Gothic style such as the Cambra Daurada (Golden Chamber) and the first Pati dels Tarongers(courtyard planted with orange trees). The most radical changes came with the extension towards the Plaça Sant Jaume (1597-1619): the current main façade was inspired by the Italian Renaissance, and there are four Doric columns of Roman origin dating from the 2nd century.

The last major changes in the building happened in the period of the Mancomunitat de Catalunya, the Catalan Commonwealth, (1914-1925): items such as the staircase of honour and the equestrian statue of Sant Jordi were added. Notable from the 1970s is the acquisition of more than a hundred pieces of modern, avant-garde and contemporary art by artists such as Montserrat Gudiol, Josep Maria Subirachs, Antoni Clavé, Joan Hernández Pizjuán, and Antoni Tàpies.