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).
Takes part in a group exhibition, Otra realidad. Compañeros en Madrid, in which his work is presented together with that of his colleagues and friends, who were ascribed both to realistic and abstract trends. This show, organised 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.
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.
Is named Honorary Member of the Fine Arts Academy of Madrid.
Fundación Focus in Seville organises an exhibition that explores his creative process: Antonio López, proceso de un trabajo.
Is selected to represent Spain at the Venice Biennale together with another three artists; Antonio Saura, Eduardo Arroyo, and Andreu Alfaro.
Is appointed Member of the Board of Trustees of the Museo Nacional del Prado. Will hold this position 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 Cloister of the Herrerian Patio of the Monastery of San Benito in Valladolid.
On the occasion of the sculptures Hombre y mujer’s (1968-94) entry into the collection of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, accompanied by nineteen of their preparatory drawings, the whole set is officially presented in the exhibition rooms of the museum. The ensemble entered the collection of the museum as a donation of Repsol YPF that had acquired them from the American collector Dorothy C. Weicker who, in turn, had bought them in 1975.
Is named Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters of New York.
This very year he also receives two awards: the Medal of Honour of the International University Menéndez Pelayo, Santander and the Prize of the Arts from the city of Alcalá de Henares, Madrid.
Shows his largest painting, Madrid desde la torre de bomberos de Vallecas, which measures over four meters wide, in the Assembly of Madrid. This work is on deposit at this institution by courtesy of Fundación Especial Caja Madrid.
In June of the same year is awarded with the highest Honour in Fine Arts in Spain: the Plastic Arts Velázquez Award.
Completes his first individual commission for a public sculpture, El día and La noche, which are installed in the Atocha Train Station in Madrid. In April, another pair of monumental heads inspired in the models of the former, Carmen despierta and Carmen dormida, are placed in the Fine Arts Museum of Boston, being then acquired by this institution on the occasion of his solo exhibition at the museum. This show is held along a historical exhibition devoted to Spanish Art from the Middle Ages to the Modern Period: El Greco to Velázquez. Art during the Reign of Philip III curated by Ronni Baer.
Is awarded with the Gold Medal of the City of Madrid; a place that he has depicted with enormous veracity in his paintings.
Receives the Penagos Prize for Drawing from Fundación Mapfre.
His monumental statue La mujer de Coslada is unveiled in the Constitución Avenue in the city of Coslada, Madrid. This work is a commission from the Council of this municipality.
In June the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid opens a major exhibition combining a retrospective character with much of the production he had done during the eighteen years after his previous solo exhibition in Madrid, which took place in 1993 at the Reina Sofía Museum. The exhibition organized by the Thyssen, and entitled Antonio López, travels in October 2011 to the Fine Arts Museum of Bilbao. This show had been long awaited by the public, which is confirmed by the record-breaking number of visitors. Both the exhibition and the artworks presented receive very positive reviews by critics from Spain and abroad.
His work has always aroused a great interest in Japan. This interest results in a solo itinerant exhibition through three important cities of the country: Tokyo, Nagasaki and Iwate.
Is invited to participate in the festival La Milanesiana in Milan, where his painting La cena, accompanied by one of its preparatory drawings, is displayed in front of The Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio.
In December delivers the Royal Portrait, La familia de Juan Carlos I, within the framework of an exhibition devoted to the history of the portraiture of the monarchy in Spain organized by the National Trust at the Royal Palace in Madrid: El retrato en las colecciones reales. De Juan de Flandes a Antonio López. After the show the painting becomes part of the permanent National Heritage collection, being installed in its premises. During the same month, a couple exhibitions in which Antonio participates are inaugurated in Vicenza, Italy: a solo show dedicated to his work, and a group exhibition dedicated to the theme of night featuring works by major past and contemporary international artists, including Zurbarán, Van Gogh, Rothko and Francis Bacon.
During the month of August exhibits individually in Sala Robayera in Miengo, Cantabria. In October, Antonio presents a selection of his latest pieces combined with some earlier works at the Marlborough Gallery in Barcelona within the Gallery Weekend Festival.
Between the months of February and May, the Thyssen Museum in Madrid dedicates an exhibition to the group of artists who have been practising realist art, or New Figuration, since the fifties of the last century in that city. These artists are 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. It shows works by all of them, as well as by Antonio, allowing comparison in the context of their extensive careers, thus revealing both their connection points as well as their stylistic and technical differences.
The Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga presents the exhibition La esencia de lo Real in April, which explored the history of realist art in Spain, from the 17th century to the present, paying special attention to the last half century.
In June, the Reial Cercle Artístic de Barcelona bestows him with the Gold Medal in recognition of his career and artistic merits.
In September of this same year, Antonio López presents his first artist book: Cuerpos y flores, made by the Artika publishing house, where both themes are addressed and illustrated throughout his career.
In October, the Academy of Fine Arts of San Carlos de Valencia appoints him an Honorary Academician.
The itinerary of the exhibition The poetics of abstraction and figuration at several European Cervantes Institutes begins in Prague. Antonio participates with two works.
Beatriz Hidalgo Caldas