Clavé in France

We congratulate the Vila Casas Foundation for its initiative to honor the figure of the painter Clave on the centenary of his birth. Nevertheless, we regret that any of our public museums have been able to celebrate the anniversary of one of the five key painters of the Catalan modernity. Because few artists can boast of a biography as dense and complex as our artist: Clave was the young artist that, with only 24 years old, was the most popular poster artist Republican in Barcelona; ​​the same creator that few years later suffered deportation and the trench; the young charmand who seduced Paris theaters Paris and Hollywood producers with their sets dedicated to the first time dancer during the 50s: Roland Petit; the talent recognized as the second most valued french emerging artist in 1954, ahead of De Staël or Manessier; one of the few mainland artists to be not seduced by the caresses of Franco.

Clave was among our artists perhaps the most skilled experimenters. Its findings emerged, entirely, from his French laboratory, situated between Paris and Saint-Tropez. One of the first steps Clave made shortly after arriving in Paris, in 1939, was to explore in the field of sculpture objetual: artist went to Parisian markets in villages, and acquired all kinds of étranges objects: retin-skull tongs, whisks, glass, plaster.

That objetual fertility did not have continuity in their work until 20 years later. At the long break, Clavé devoted to 3 occupations: set design, editorial illustration and figurative painting. The three activities were brilliantly executed. Soon was recognized as one of the first set designers of Paris. In the field of graphic discipline he made sublime bibliophile editions on subjects of literature (Gargantua, Candide, Carmen) and in 1954 was awarded with the Grand Prix Unesco engraving of the XXVIII Venice Biennale. And in the course of the fifties, when he found the time to devote again to painting, was soon recognized as the second most important emerging painter in France in 1955, ahead of De Staël! And only from behind by the popular Bernard Buffet. In addition, their paintings were well represented commercially, in Paris (Creuzevault and Drouand gallery) and in Barcelona (Gallery Gaspar), where in 1956 he made the first major exhibition after seventeen years of his French exile.

However, in 1957 the painter felt that the turning point in his art work had to happen, inevitably, by a return in the field of objectual and technical experimentation. This was how in the early sixties Clave finally abandoned Parisian metropolis to settle in a study in the seaside town of Saint-Tropez. It would be difficult to list up the technical processes that emerged in Saint-Tropez in the course of more than four decades until his death in 2005 – which for many are the biggest series of his career: assemblies, (50s) aluminum (1972), papiers froissés, (1975) Gloves (1974) Instruments étranges (1977), the waffles lead sculpture (sixties), gouache (eighties) …

On the other hand, it should be emphasized Clave status as an artist committed and resilient during his exile in France. In fact it was one of the few among the major postwar Catalan artists systematically refused Franco tempting invitations to exhibit his work in different international broadcasting platforms regime: the Spanish pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Sao Paulo, Hispanic art biennials … This attitude of resistance became more feasible thanks to his proximity to the Spanish artists group of Paris, grouped under the name of the School of Paris (Picasso, Apelles Fenosa, Oscar Domínguez, Manuel Viola, Pedro Flores or Condoy).