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ANTONI CLAVÉ BIO (1913-2005)

Antoni Clavé was born in Barcelona on April 5th, 1913. From 1926 he attended evening courses at the Escuela de Artes y Oficios "Llotja", a school both Picasso and Miró attended in their youth. In 1927, one of Clavé's teachers found him a position as a house painter's apprentice because of his growing fascination with the hands-on nature of painting and especially with the materials used for such work, like learning how to prepare paints.


In 1932, Clavé stopped attending evening classes and, on the recommendation of Illescas, an architect, was employed at the firm of Cinaes, where he designed the weekly cinema posters. 

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), he served as a draughtsman for the Republican government but eventually was forced to flee to France. After 
a brief internment at Les Haras camp in Perpignan, Clavé settled in Paris in 1939 without any papers, drawing comics and working as an illustrator to get by.

In the 1940s Clavé's work showed the
 stylistic influence of Bonnard and Vuillard, until he met fellow Spanish expatriate Pablo Picasso in 1944. This meeting marked a pivotal change in Clavé's style, and he was forever grateful to be considered a lifelong friend of Don Pablo, as he called him.

From 1946, Clavé created numerous designs for the ballet and theatre in Paris, Munich, London and New York and in the 1950s, he turned to book illustration. He was nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design) for his work on the 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen


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. 


From 1960, he embarked on creating sculptures. Clavé's work in that field includes bas-reliefs, assemblages and totem-like sculptures of wood and modelled or imprinted lead, some of them incorporating found objects that are archaic in feeling. In 1965, Clavé moved to the South of France, near Saint-Tropez.

In the early 1980s, Clavé created the series "Hommage à Picasso" which was exhibited at the Picasso Museum in Antibes, followed by a series inspired by urban living in New York, where 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. and the Spanish Pavilion at the 1984 Venice Biennale was dedicated to the Artist. In his later years, Clavé's work became completely abstract, using line rather than solid forms to explore the boundaries of shading, texture and colour.


His work is displayed in many museums, including the Fine Arts Museums of San FranciscoNational Museum of Serbia, Tate Gallery, London, Museo de Bellas Artes de BilbaoMuseum 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.

Selected Exhibitions:


1957, Clavé, Beyeler Gallery, Basel

1960, Clavé, Picasso Museum, Antibes

1967, Clavé, Tapisseries, Peintures, Sculptures, Picasso Museum, Antibes

1973, Clavé, Œuvre Graphique, 1951 à 1973, Tel-Aviv Museum, Israel

1974, Clavé, Weintraub Gallery, New York

1978, Clavé, Peintures, de 1958 à 1978, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

1978, En marge de la peinture, Musée National d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

1978, Clavé, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan

1985, À Don Pablo, Picasso Museum, Antibes

1986, Antoni Clavé, Œuvres de 1960 à 1985, National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan

1994, Antoni Clavé. Oeuvres Graphiques, Museo Nacional, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain


Select Public Collections:

Tate Gallery, London, UK

Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco, USA

Museum of Modern Art, Paris, France

Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain

Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan

The British Museum, London, UK

National Museum of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia

MAMAC, Nice, France

Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA

National Gallery of Art, Washington, USA

Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA



Unesco prize for Engraving, 28th Venice Biennale, 1956

Grand Prize of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, 1944

Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres

Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts, Spain, 1984