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. Spanish Civil War breaks out triggered by the military uprising 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. However, 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, introduces him to 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, and thanks to the mediation of his uncle, the parents of Antonio López agree to let him go to Madrid to prepare for his entry into the School of Fine Arts of San Fernando.
In order 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, having won several competition awards during his School years. During these years he meets those who will become close 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 finalizing his studies in January, he takes part in one of his first group exhibitions along with three of his friends, Lucio Muñoz and Francisco and Julio López, which is organized by the General Directorate of Fine Arts. In May he wins a contest of the National Department of Education, being awarded a travel grant, which he uses the summer of that year to tour Italy during a month with his friend and fellow sculptor Francisco López.
Begins to search for his own language right from his formative stage, by testing various resources, and being those of surreal nature which appear most often in his first paintings. 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 establishing himself in the capital, he lives between Madrid and Tomelloso. His first solo exhibition, Antonio López García and his time, 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 En la cocina, thus getting a travel grant that he uses to visit Greece accompanied again by Francisco López. They also travel to Rome thanks to a studies scholarship obtained by Antonio from the Ministry of Education.
Lives between Madrid and Tomelloso until 1960, becoming both places the background of his paintings. From that year on Madrid turns into the main character of several of his paintings and it will no longer disappear from his subject matter. At this time he is beginning to develop his sculptural activity, which will occupy much of his production in the coming years.
An individual show of his work opens at Biosca Gallery in Madrid, which was then ran by Juana Mordó, who later became his gallerist. 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’s Gallery, which opens with a group exhibition featuring all of them on March 13. From that moment on and thanks to the international connections of the gallery, he participates in several group exhibitions at international level; particularly in the United States and Germany. In the latter there is a growing interest on the so-called Spanish Realism, which results in the arrangement of various group shows from that time until the eighties, many of which includes 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, which he will keep doing so for several courses until 1969.
Has his first solo exhibition in America at the Staempfli Gallery in New York, which is organized together with his Spanish gallerist Juana Mordó. It results in his works becoming part of various collections of that country, as well as in glowing reviews from critics.
Gradually begins to divest his artworks of surreal elements in order to adopt a closer and more objective approach to reality. Interiors bare of figures appear in both his paintings and drawings, being workrooms and bathrooms the spaces most often depicted in his drawings. The figures he paints usually belong to his more intimate circle, which is a continuing feature 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).
Becomes represented by the Marlborough Gallery, New York.
Exhibits individually at both the Galatea Gallery in Turin, Italy, and Claude Bernard Gallery in Paris, France.
Is awarded with 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 own house, Casa de Antonio López Torres (1972-1975). His interest in the human habit of eating leads him to render it in both drawings and oil paintings, being the painting La cena (1971-1980) one of his most representative works on the subject.
During these years his work is also exhibited in major international group shows such as Contemporary Spanish Realists at the Marlborough Gallery in London (1973) or Realismus und Realität at the Kunsthalle Darmstadt, Germany (1975).
During 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 with 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 that arouses great interest among the public and the critics.
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, Marlborough-where will be counted the occasions in which he will show his work individually-. This show will be also shown a few months later at the London headquarters of the gallery
Plays the leading role in a film shot in his own house under the direction of Víctor Erice, The Quince Tree Sun, which depicts his creative process. Many people from his inner circle appear in the movie; several members of his family and close friends. This film, which will be premiered in 1992, harvests great 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, in which his work is exhibited together with that of his colleagues and friends, who practiced both figurative and abstract trends. This show, organized by Fundación Humanismo y Democracia with the collaboration of Caja Madrid, marks a turning point in the understanding of the figurative painting done in Madrid from the fifties onward.
They give him the Tomás Francisco Prieto Prize from the Madrid Mint, to which he had to respond with a series of coins in gold, silver and bronze, choosing a man and a hare as the motifs on each side of the coins.
In May 1993, a large anthological exhibition was inaugurated at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía , including 170 works, including paintings, sculptures and drawings. This sample supposes his definitive consecration, as much between the public as between the critic.
He is named full Member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando de Madrid.
At the Focus Abengoa Foundation in Seville an exhibition is organized that explores his creative process: Antonio López, process of a work.
He is selected to take part in the exhibition Identità e alterità, curated by Jean Claire, 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 Valladolid City Council, together with the sculptors Francisco and Julio López Hernández, commission a monumental sculpture of the Kings of Spain, which they will inaugurate in 2001 in their current location: the Cloister of the Herreriano Courtyard of the Monastery of San Benito de Valladolid.
The sculptures Man and Woman (1968-94), accompanied by nineteen preparatory drawings, are presented at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, on the occasion that the whole set has entered the museum's collection as a gift from Repsol YPF, which had Acquired from North American collector Dorothy C. Weicker who, in turn, had purchased them in 1975.
He is named Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York .
This same year he received 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, Carmen awake and Carmen asleep, were placed in April at the Fine Arts Museum in Boston, which acquired them coinciding with the individual exhibition dedicated to her in parallel to a large exhibition 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