Chronology of Antonio López García
Born on January 6, in the Castillian village of Tomelloso to a well-to-do family that makes its living from cultivating their land and vines. The Spanish Civil War breaks out triggered by the military upheaval of July 17, which led to a successful coup d’état. War ends on April 1, 1939, giving way to a military dictatorship under General Francisco Franco. Notwithstanding this, his childhood in the village is peaceful and happy.
Still a child, he starts drawing by copying engravings depicting nineteenth-century paintings.
During the summer his uncle, the painter Antonio López Torres, initiated him in painting. He teaches little Antonio the importance of painting from life by placing the motif right in front of him; first to draw it and then to paint it in oil. In October, despite his young age, 13 years old, and thanks to the mediation of his uncle, Antonio López's parents agree to let him go to Madrid to prepare for his admission into the School of Fine Arts of San Fernando.
To prepare for the entrance examination to the School of Fine Arts, he goes daily to the Museum of Artistic Reproductions, located in the Casón del Buen Retiro, to copy plaster casts after antique sculptures and, in the afternoons, to the School of Arts and Crafts. In June 1950, at age 14, when Antonio passes the entrance exam to join the School of San Fernando, he experiences one of the happiest moments of his life.
Completes his Fine Arts studies in San Fernando in 1955, winning several awards in the School competitions. During these years he meets those who will become his closest friends and his future wife: Enrique Gran, Lucio Muñoz, Francisco and Julio López, Joaquín Ramo, Francisco Nieva, Amalia Avia, Isabel Quintanilla and María Moreno. Before terminating his studies in January, he takes part in one of his first group exhibitions organized by the General Directorate of Fine Arts along with three of his friends, Lucio Muñoz and Francisco and Julio López. In May, he gets a travel grant by winning a contest of the National Education Delegation, which he uses in the summer of that same year to go touring Italy for a month with his friend and colleague, the sculptor Francisco López.
From his formative stage, he began to search for his language and tried various resources, being those of a surreal nature that would appear in many of the paintings of his first production. The landscapes of this period are usually inhabited by figures or by Still Lifes. Although he already paints cheerful vegetable themes, figures are the protagonists of much of the works he produces during these years.
Given the difficulty of settling in the capital, he lives between Madrid and Tomelloso. Antonio López García and his time, his first solo exhibition, is held at the Ateneo de Madrid in December 1957.
Wins the Still Life section of the annual Fine Arts competition of the Rodríguez Acosta Foundation in Granada with the work "In the kitchen", thus getting a travel grant that he uses to visit Greece accompanied again by Francisco López. Together they will also visit Rome thanks to another scholarship obtained by Antonio from the Ministry of Education.
Lives between Madrid and Tomelloso until 1960, thus becoming both places the background of his paintings. From that year on, Madrid turns into the main character of several of his paintings and will no longer disappear from his themes. At that time, he is beginning to develop his sculptural activity that will occupy a large part of his production in the coming years.
He exhibits individually at the Biosca Gallery in Madrid, then run by Juana Mordó, who would later become his art dealer. This show receives rave reviews and sells several of his artworks to Spanish collectors.
Marries the painter María Moreno.
Joins the roster of artists at the new Juana Mordó Gallery, which is opened on March 13th with a group exhibition featuring works by them all. From that moment on, and thanks to the international connections of the gallery, he participates in numerous foreign group exhibitions, particularly in the United States and Germany. In the latter, there is a growing interest in the so-called Spanish Realism, which results in the organization of various group shows until the eighties. Many of these exhibitions include the work of Antonio López, Francisco López, Isabel Quintanilla, and María Moreno.
In 1964, he begins teaching at the School of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid, continuing several courses until 1969.
His first solo show in North America takes place at the Staempfli Gallery in New York, being organized with the help of his Spanish gallery, Juana Mordó. This exhibition, very well received by the public and critics, leads to the sale of some of his works to various American collections.
Gradually begins to purge his works of surrealist elements to gain a more objective approach, closer to reality. Interiors bare of figures appear in both his paintings and drawings, choosing very often workrooms and bathrooms to feature his drawings. On the other hand, the figures represented in his artworks often belong to his intimate circle, which is a permanent characteristic of his work.
Exhibits for the second time in the gallery of George Staempfli, coinciding with the booming of Realism and Hyper-realism styles in the United States and reaping rave reviews again.
Begins one of his most important sculptures: Hombre y mujer (Reina Sofía Museum).
Antonio begins to be represented by Marlborough Gallery, New York, USA.
Exhibits individually both in Galatea Gallery in Turin, Italy, and Claude Bernard Gallery in Paris, France.
Is awarded the Prize of the City of Darmstadt, Germany.
Continues to represent interiors to which he adds windows seen from inside and even some figures, like in the drawing depicting his uncle at his house, Casa de Antonio López Torres (1972-1975). This way, he broadens the subject matter of realism, to which he also contributes a new vision of some motifs like the places in the house, incorporating the toilet and the kitchen, but devoid of characters. His interest in the human habit of eating leads Antonio to render it in both drawings and oil paintings, thus producing one of his most representative works on the subject, the painting La Cena (1971-1980).
During these years, his work is also exhibited in major international group shows as Contemporary Spanish Realists at the Marlborough Gallery, London (1973) and Realismus und Realität at the Kunsthalle Darmstadt, Germany (1975).
Throughout this period, he works on some of his most important pieces, especially in some of his most famous sights of Madrid as Gran Vía (1974-1981) or Madrid desde Torres Blancas (1974-1982), as well as in the sculptures Hombre y Mujer (1968-1994). Keeps working on the theme of the window seen from inside, starting several paintings depicting this subject at different times of the day..
Is awarded the Gold Medal of Merit in Fine Arts and the Pablo Iglesias Prize.
The Juan March Foundation organizes his first retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Albacete, arousing great interest among the public and the critics.
Is honoured with the "Prince of Asturias" Award for the Arts.
Becomes one of the three artists selected to represent Contemporary Spanish Art and exhibit individually in Europalia 85, Brussels, being the other two Antoni Tàpies and Eduardo Chillida. His work receives a lot of press attention.
Is one of the three artists selected to represent Contemporary Spanish Art and exhibit individually in Europalia 85, Brussels. The other two artists are Antoni Tàpies and Eduardo Chillida. His work gets a lot of press attention.
Exhibits again individually in New York, but this time in the gallery that represents him then, Marlborough Gallery, where he will exhibit on few occasions. A few months later, this show travels to the gallery's London headquarters.
He shoots El sol del membrillo in his own house under the direction of Víctor Erice, a film that portrays his creative process and in which some members of his family and friends appear. This film, released in 1992, garners good reviews and awards, among which stands out the Jury Prize of the Cannes Film Festival (1992).
Antonio takes part in a group exhibition, Otra Realidad. Compañeros en Madrid, curated by Javier Tusell and María José Salazar. This show, organized by Fundación Humanismo y Democracia with the collaboration of Caja Madrid, displays his works are along with those of his colleagues and friends, who practiced both figurative and abstract trends. It marks a turning point in the understanding of the figurative painting done in Madrid from the fifties onward
Receives the Award Tomás Francisco Prieto from Madrid Mint, for which he is commissioned a series of coins in gold, silver, and bronze. Chooses a man and a hare as motifs for each of the sides of the coins.
In May 1993, a major retrospective exhibition of his work opens at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, featuring 170 artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and drawings. With this show, Antonio achieves definitive recognition from the public and critics.
He is named Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando de Madrid.
Fundación Focus in Seville organises an exhibition that explores his creative process: Antonio López, proceso de un trabajo.
He is selected to take part in the exhibition Identità e alterità, curated by Jean Clair, first hosted at the Palazzo Grassi and then at the Museo Correr, both in Venice, Italy.
He is appointed member of the Royal Board of Trustees of the Museo Nacional del Prado, a position he will hold until 2009.
The City Council of Valladolid commissions him and the sculptors Francisco and Julio López Hernández, a monumental sculpture of the King and the Queen of Spain. This statue is unveiled in 2001 in its current location: the Monastery of San Benito in Valladolid.
The sculptures Man and Woman (1968-94) are presented at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (1968-94), accompanied by nineteen preparatory drawings, on the occasion of having entered the entire set in the museum's collection as a gift from Repsol YPF. These sculptures were acquired from the North American collector Dorothy C. Weicker, who, in turn, had bought them in 1975.
He is named Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York .
This same year he receives two other distinctions: the Medal of Honor from the Menéndez Pelayo International University of Santander and the City of Alcalá de Henares Prize for the Arts.
He presents his largest format painting at the Madrid Assembly: Madrid from the Vallecas fire tower (1990-2006), which is more than four meters wide. This work has been transferred to this institution by the Caja Madrid Special Foundation.
In June of this year, he received the highest award for Fine Arts in Spain and Latin America: the Velázquez Prize for Plastic Arts.
His first public monumental solo sculptures, El Día y La Noche, are installed at Madrid Atocha Station. Another pair of bronze heads inspired by these public sculptures, Carmen awake and Carmen asleep, are placed in April at the Fine Arts Museum in Boston, coinciding with the individual exhibition dedicated to her in parallel to a large show on Spanish art by the Modern Age: El Greco to Velázquez. Art during the Reign of Philip III, curated by Ronni Baer.
He is awarded the Gold Medal of the Madrid City Council, a city that he has managed to represent with great veracity in his paintings. He receives the Penagos Drawing Prize from the Mapfre Foundation.
His monumental sculpture La mujer de Coslada , commissioned by the City of Coslada, was inaugurated on Avenida de la Constitución in this Madrid municipality.
In June, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid inaugurates a large exhibition that combines retrospective character while revealing a large part of the production it had produced in the last eighteen years, since its previous solo exhibition in Madrid, which it had had place in 1993 at the Reina Sofía. The exhibition organized by the Thyssen, titled Antonio López , traveled in October 2011 to the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. This sample had long been awaited by the public, who came breaking records to visit it. Critics, both inside and outside Spain, make a very positive assessment of the exhibition and the works presented there.
Japan's interest in his work has always borne fruit in a traveling solo exhibition through three museums in three major cities in the country: Tokyo, Nagasaki and Iwate.
He is invited to participate in the La Milanesiana festival in Milan, where his work La cena, accompanied by his preparatory drawing, is shown in front of Caravaggio's La cena en Emaús at the Pinacoteca de Brera
In December he delivered the portrait of The Family of Juan Carlos I, within the framework of an exhibition dedicated to the history of the monarchical portrait in Spain organized by National Heritage at the Royal Palace of Madrid: The portrait in the royal collections. From Juan de Flandes to Antonio López. After the exhibition it becomes part of the permanent Heritage collection, being installed in its facilities.
During the same month, two exhibitions in which he participates are inaugurated in Vicenza, Italy: an individual exhibition dedicated to his figure - Antonio López García - and a large group exhibition dedicated to the night - Tutankhamun, Caravaggio, Van Gogh. The will be ei notturni dagli Egizi al Novecento -, with works by great international artists of past and contemporary centuries, including Zurbarán, Van Gogh, Rothko and Francis Bacon,.
He exhibits individually at the Sala Robayera in Miengo, Cantabria during the month of August. In October, a selection of his latest pieces combined with some works from previous stages is presented at the Barcelona Marborough Gallery within the framework of the Barcelona Gallery Weekend.
During the months of February and May, the Thyssen Museum in Madrid dedicates an exhibition to the group of artists who have practiced a realistic art, or New Figuration, since the 1950s in that city. This is part of the group of friends and colleagues that Antonio López met during his formative years: Francisco and Julio López, Isabel Quintanilla, Amalia Avia, María Moreno and Esperanza Parada. Works by all of them, as well as by Antonio, are seen together allowing their comparison in the context of their long careers, thus exposing both their connection points and their stylistic and technical differences.
The Carmen Thyssen museum in Malaga presents the exhibition The essence of reality in April, which explores the history of realist art in Spain, from the 17th century to the present day, paying special attention to the last half century.
In June, the Reial Cercle Artístic de Barcelona presented him with the Gold Medal in recognition of his career and artistic merits.
In September of this same year, Antonio López presented his first artist's book: Bodies and Flowers, made by the Artika publishing house, where both subjects are addressed and illustrated throughout his career. On the 11th of the same month, it's oficially opened another of his public sculptures, La mujer de la Almanzora, at the Casa Ibáñez de Olula del Río Museum in Almería.
In October the Academy of Fine Arts of San Carlos de Valencia. names him the title of Academic of Honour.
The itinerancy of the exhibition The Poetics of Abstraction and Figuration through various Euroean Cervantes Institutes begins in Prague and Antonio participates with two works. After touring for different countries, it concludes at the New York headquarters of the Cervantes Institute of New York in September of 2019.
This year he receives several distinctions: Doctor Honoris Causa from the Complutense University of Madrid; the Medal of Honour from the Carlos III University and the Collegiate of Honour from the Madrid College of Architects.
Between April 26 and October 13, it was opened to the public an individual exhibition of Antonio at the Silos Monastery, focusing on some of his latest works of flowers, including much of his Rosas de Ávila series, and children, giving to the show an introspective and contemplative approach..
On February 17, his wife, María Moreno, died. He continues to work on the series he had started on her, with which he pays tribute to her.
In September 2020, a retrospective exhibition is inaugurated at the Bancaja Foundation in Valencia, which includes a wide selection of recent and in-process works. The exhibition, curated by Tomás and Boye Llorens, also shows a selected selection of works by María Moreno.
The following year, the Community of Madrid dedicated an exhibition tribute to him in which his monumental sculptures, Carmen awaken and asleep, are shown at the Real Casa de Correos in Madrid.
Beatriz Hidalgo Caldas