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 Antoni Clave Sanmartin  (1913 - 2005)

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Lived/Active: Spain/France      Known for: mixed-media avant-garde painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Antoni Clave Sanmartin
1913 (Barcelona, Spain)
2005 (Saint Tropez, France)


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mixed-media avant-garde painting

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Biography from Acquisitions Of Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Antoni Clavé was born in Barcelona on 5 April 1913. From 1926 he attended evening courses at the Escuela de Artes y Oficios "Llotja" taught by Félix Mestres, Josep Mongrell and Angel Ferrant. Mongrell found Clavé a place as a house painter's apprentice in 1927 because Clavé was fascinated by the hands-on side of painting and especially by the materials used for such work and wanted to learn how to prepare paints.

In 1932 Clavé stopped attending the evening classes and, on the recommendation of Illescas, an architect, was employed at the firm of Cinaes, where he designed the weekly cinema posters. On the side Clavé also worked for a children's magazine and designed advertising posters.

During the Spanish Civil War Clavé served as a draughtsman for the Republican government, but at the end of the war he fled to France. After internment at Les Haras camp in Perpignan, Clavé settled in Paris in 1939, drawing comics and working as an illustrator.

During the 1940s Clavé's painting showed the stylistic influence of Bonnard, Vuillard, Rouault and especially Picasso, with whom he became acquainted in 1944. Clavé's motifs at the time were scenes of tranquil domesticity tinged with melancholy, puppet-like female figures, children, clowns and harlequins.

From 1946 Clavé did numerous designs for ballet and theatre in Paris, Munich, London and New York; in the 1950s he turned to book illustration. In 1954 Clavé ceased working as a stage-set designer and illustrator to devote himself entirely to painting, visiting Spain again. His paintings became more abstract and enigmatic; inspired by wall textures and graffiti, Clavé began integrating scraps of newspaper and other similar materials into his painting in a collage-like manner.

In 1957 Clavé embarked on designing carpets, and from 1960 he also did sculpture. Clavé's work in the latter field includes bas reliefs, assemblages and totem-like sculptures of wood and modelled or imprinted lead, some of them incorporating objets trouvé, that are archaic in feeling. In 1965 Clavé moved to the South of France, near Saint-Tropez. Clavé's paintings became darker, many of them almost entirely black, and he used mixed techniques.

The early 1980s saw the Clavé series Hommage à Picasso, followed by a series inspired by urban living in New York, which Clavé visited in 1972 and 1989. After one-man shows in museums and galleries in Zurich, Barcelona, Paris and Tokyo, Clavé was given a comprehensive retrospective at the Centre Pompidou Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris in 1978. The Spanish pavilion at the 1984 Venice Biennale was dedicated to Antoni Clavé.

Biography from
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

1913 Born: April 5th, Barcelona, Spain

1926 - 1932 Studies at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Barcelona

2005 Died: August 31st, Saint Tropez, France

Antoni Clave attended the School of Fine Arts in Calle Aribau in Barcelona.  There he modeled in the class of Angel Ferrán and drew under José Mongrell. Together with Salavdor Ortiga he experimented with different materials in 1934 to reach a new visual expression.  Together with Martí Bas he designed the stage sets for Ramón Vinas in Barcelona 1938.  In 1944 he comes to the first encounter with Picasso.

That year he exhibited in the gallery Henry Joly in Paris. In 1946 he participated together with Picasso, Bòres, Dominguez, Florès, Lobo Fenosa and others in the exhibition "Spanish Painters in Prague" and designed stage sets for "Los Caprichos" and "Carmen" in Paris.

In 1949 he once more dedicated himself to designing the stage sets and costumes for Carmen for the "Ballets de Paris" by Roland Petits.  In 1949 and 1950 Clavé exhibited in Malmo and Gothenburg.  After some more exhibitions he designed the stage set and the costumes for Frederico Garcia Lorca's La Casa de Bernarda Alba in Biarritz and Paris.

In 1956 he was the award-winner at the Biennial art festival in Venice and received the Matarasso Award at the 4th biennial art festival in Sao Paulo in 1957.  In 1982 the artist created a wall picture for the airport Barajas in Madrid.  Until today he is represented with exhibitions in galleries as well as museums in Europe, Asia and the USA on a regular basis, e. g. at the Musée Rath in Genevain 1961, at the Centre George Pompidou in Paris in 1978, at the Metropolitan Teien Art Museum in Tokio in 1986 and many more.

Museo de Bellas artes de Bilbao
Museum of Modern Art, Paris
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid
British Museum, London
Tate Gallery

1984 Spanish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale dedicated to Antoni Clavé.
1978 Retrospective at the Centre Pompidou Musée d'Art Moderne. Paris, France.

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