Antoni Clavé was a Spanish painter, etcher and sculptor born in Barcelona in 1913. At the age of 13 he was hired in a textiles shop. He signed up to classes at the Escuela de Artes y Officios Artisticos y Bellas Artes de Barcelona. In 1932 he was commissioned by the Cinaes society to produce film posters and was able to make a living from commercial and decorative works. He used avant-garde experimentation in these with collages from various materials.

When the Spanish war started in 1936, his friend managed to integrate him in the État-Major of the 31st division where their mission was to create posters destined to galvanize the fighters. Clavé arrived in France the 29th of January and went to Prats de Molló then to Perpignan at the Haras camp. Once freed he exhibited drawings made at the camp in Perpignan, gouache works and portraits. In April he moved to Paris and made a living from illustrating and drawing comics for newspapers. He met Picasso through other Spanish friends of his.

In 1942, his son Jacque was born and during this period he was influenced by Bonnard and Vuillard. Antoni Clavé made lithographies for the Lettres d’Espagne of Prosper Mérimée the following year. Picasso was interested in his work and visited his exhibition June 1944 at the Henri Joly gallery. After the war, Clavé participated in collective exhibitions in Paris. He then started making important decors and costumes for ballets that inspired new subjects: Kings of maps, characters of the Middle Ages and Warriors.

His theatrical creations are an essential part of his body of work. He exhibited in 1951 at the Witcomb Gallery of Buenos Aires and in Rome at the Galleria dell’Obelisco, then at the Galerie Drouant-David in Paris in 1953. One year later de decided to dedicate himself to painting. Clavé received the Unesco prize of etching at the XXVIIIe Biennale of Venice in 1956 and the Sala Gaspar of Barcelona exhibited his paintings for the first time. He then created paintings on rugs and represented France at the IVe Biennale of São Paulo where he received the Matarazzo prize for painting. His first major exhibition was at the Galerie Creuzevault in 1958. Clavé received the Kamakura prize at the Biennale of Etching of Tokyo while the Arthus Tooth & Sons gallery exhibited his work again. He make several tapisseries-assemblages that were presented at the Bilbao Museum in 1964.

Antoni Clavé had numerous exhibitions in the 60s then went to Japan and upon his return to France stopped in New York and was inspired by the graffitis in the streets and the subway. In 1975 he continued the etchings that illustrated La Gloire des Rois and he also made his crumpled papers. At the FIAC of 1982, the Sala Gaspar presented an ensemble of paintings and sculptures and that same year he painted a 9 by 3 meter mural for the Barajas airport in Madrid. In 1984, the Spanish pavilion of the Venice Biennale was dedicated to Clavé. The Joan Gaspar gallery presented « Dix ans de peinture, 1993-2003 » first in 2003 in Barcelona, then in 2004 in Madrid. Antoni Clavé died in 2005 in Saint-Tropez.
Antoni Clavé
Photo Credit : © DR