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Gallery 304



After World War II, Europe was a divided, devastated continent. Many prominent European artists fled the desolation and found refuge in the United States. In this context, a series of painters emerged on both sides of the Atlantic whose diverse aesthetic proposals paved the way for a pivotal period in the modern visual arts. One of these movements was the gestural painting of American Abstract Expressionism, which encompassed Action painting—represented here by works like Clyfford Still (b. 1904; d. 1980) Untitled (1964)—as well as the style cultivated by the Color Field painters, or “painters of silence,” like Mark Rothko (b. 1903; d. 1970). This expressive trend was secretly used, without the artists’ knowledge, for political purposes during the Cold War, when it was touted as the antithesis of “rigid” Socialist Realism.

In 1953 Antoni Tàpies (b. 1923; d. 2012) held his first solo show in the United States, and this brought him into close contact with Abstract Expressionism, a movement with which he shared several things, most notably an interest in Surrealism. Meanwhile, new artistic interests were blossoming in the mind of the young Yves Klein (b. 1928; d. 1962), whose first foray into painting came in Madrid in 1954, when he published Yves Peintures, a small booklet filled with works that did not exist and yet marked the beginning of his artistic career.

Yves Klein
Large Blue Anthropometry [ANT 105] [La grande Anthropométrie bleue (ANT 105)], ca. 1960
Dry pigment and synthetic resin on paper mounted on canvas
280 x 428 cm
Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa

Robert Motherwell
Iberia, 1958
Oil on canvas
182,2 x 233,3 x 2,6 cm
Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa

Antoni Tàpies
Ambrosia, 1989
Mixed media on canvas
250 x 600 cm
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Mark Rothko
Untitled, 1952-53
Oil on canvas
299,5 x 442,5 cm
Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa

Clyfford Still
Untitled, 1964
Oil on canvas
273,5 x 236 x 3,5 cm
Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa