Antonio López García (Tomelloso, Ciudad Real, 1936)
He began his training with his uncle, the painter Antonio López Torres. In 1949, he travelled to Madrid to prepare for the entrance exam of the School of Fine Arts of San Fernando; where, between 1950 and 1955, he studied painting. In 1955, he obtained a travel grant from the Ministry of Education to travel to Italy. Later, in 1958, Antonio won the Fine Arts competition of the Rodríguez Acosta Foundation in the category of ‘Still Life’, for which he received a scholarship to travel to Greece. That same year, he returned to Italy, visiting Rome, thanks to another scholarship from the Ministry of Education.
After graduating, his production included elements of different artistic movements such as Cubism and Surrealism, the latter being the most frequent as it helped to reinforce the narrative character of several of his works. From the sixties, he began to abandon the oneiric component while gradually developing a more objective approach. His motifs are then portraits of people around him, interiors, still lifes and cityscapes that serve as background to the still lifes and to the scenes with figures. His sculptural work runs parallel to his paintings and drawings, thus making reliefs in different materials and his first exempt pieces. Between 1964 and 1969, Antonio taught the Chair of Preparatory of Colouring at the School of Fine Arts of San Fernando. Afterwards he has given courses occasionally, while devoting himself entirely to artistic creation.
He has participated in numerous group shows and has been the subject of several solo exhibitions. Among them stand out for their impact those held in the Staempfli Gallery in 1965 and 1968, and in the Marlborough Gallery (New York and London) in 1986. In 1985, he represented Spain in Europalia 85, Brussels, along with the artists Eduardo Chillida and Antoni Tàpies.
A few years later, in 1990, film director Víctor Erice filmed the feature film The Quince Tree Sun, focused on the creative process of Antonio López, which was later awarded the 1992 International Critics Prize and the Juty Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the 1992 Gold Hugo to the Best Feature Film at the International Film Festival of Chicago, and the Award for Best Foreign Film at the Montreal Film Festival, Canada, in 2000.
In 1993 he had his first retrospective exhibition at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, which met with a favourable reception from the public and critics. In 1995, he was 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. A few years later, in 1999, the City of Valladolid commissioned Antonio López and the sculptors Francisco and Julio López Hernández a monumental sculpture of the King and Queen of Spain, which was inaugurated in 2001 in the Cloister of San Benito, Valladolid. In October 2001, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía celebrated the acquisition of the sculptures Hombre y Mujer (Man and Woman) and nineteen of their preparatory drawings with a small exhibition and the publication of a book on these pieces. These artworks thus joined with three other important works of Antonio López already in the permanent collection of the museum.
In 2006, Antonio presented at the Madrid Assembly his largest urban painting he has made to date, Madrid desde la torre de bomberos de Vallecas (Madrid from the tower of fire of Vallecas), which exceeds four meters wide and represents almost the entire surface of the city from that point. In 2008, he finished his first solo public commission of a monumental sculpture; two monumental bronze heads of three meters high, El día y La Noche (Day and Night), located outside Atocha station in Madrid. In April 2008, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, dedicated him a solo show in parallel to a historical exhibition that addressed Spanish art during the reign of Philip III: El Greco to Velazquez. Art During the Reign of Philip III. In October 2010, his second public sculpture, La mujer de Coslada (Woman of Coslada), was inaugurated at the Avenue of La Constitución in the Madrid municipality of Coslada.
In June 2011, an individual exhibition that combined a retrospective character with the presentation of his latest work that had not yet seen the light was inaugurated at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid. This exhibition, on display from June to September 2011, also travelled in October of that year to the Bilbao’s Fine Arts Museum, where it remained until January 2012. The following year, a solo roaming exhibition of his work travelled to several museums in Japan, starting on April 27 at the Bunkamura Museum of Art in Tokyo.
In 2014, he was invited by Vittorio Sgarvi to participate in the famous Festival La Milanesiana, in which a special exhibition was organized presenting his painting La cena (The Supper) and its preparatory drawing opposite to Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus, thus enabling a new reading of these works. In December of that year, he delivered the painting La Familia de Juan Carlos I (The Family of Juan Carlos I), a large-format work of 300 x 340 cm that has become part of the collections of Spain’s National Heritage. This work was presented in the context of an exhibition about Royal Portraiture held at the Royal Palace of Madrid: El retrato en las colecciones reales. De Juan de Flandes a Antonio López. During the same month, there were inaugurated in Vicenza, Italy, a pair of exhibitions in which Antonio took part: a solo show, Antonio López García. Il silenzio della realtà. La realtà del silenzio, and a group exhibition dedicated to the night, Tutankhamon, Caravaggio, Van Gogh. La será e i notturni dagli Egizi al Novecento, which featured works of great international artists from the past and contemporary including Zurbarán, Van Gogh, Rothko or Francis Bacon. Thus, after more than forty years since his last solo exhibition, Antonio López showed his latest work to the Italian public, which gave him a great welcome.
The work of Antonio meets again with the Madrid public in February 2016, on the inauguration of an exhibition at the Thyssen Museum about the group of Madrid Realists, in which the artist is usually classified alongside those who have been his colleagues and friends from his formative years: Isabel Quintanilla, Julio and Francisco López, Maria Moreno, Amalia Avia and Esperanza Parada.
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 de Madrid.
During his career he has received numerous awards and nominations among which are: the Gold Medal of Fine Arts (1983), Pablo Iglesias Prize (1983), Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts (1985); Full Member of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (1993); Patron of the Museo del Prado (1998- 2009); Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York (2004); Medal of Honour (2004) of the Menendez Pelayo International University of Santander; Alcalá de Henares Ciudad de las Artes Prize (2004); the Velázquez Visual Arts Prize (2006); the Gold Medal of Fine Arts of the City of Madrid (2010); Honorary Academician of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Carlos de Valencia (2017).
Works and lives in Madrid.
[Studio of Antonio López, updated in Beatriz Hidalgo Caldas, April 2021]