Born in Huesca (Spain) on September 22, 1930.

1936-1939 During the Civil War, lives with his family in Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona. At the end of the war, lives in Huesca for a year and then returns to Madrid.
1943 Contracts tuberculosis and has to undergo several operations, resulting in his spending five years confined to bed.
1947 Self-taught as an artist, Saura starts to paint and write.
1950 First personal exhibition in the bookshop Libros in Saragossa of the experimental work he had developed over the two previous years. The series Constellations and Rayograms.
1951 Landscape series. Publication of the poetic text Programio.
  First exhibition in Madrid, in the Buchholz bookshop: oneiric and surrealist works.
First trip to Paris.
1953 Mounts the exhibitions Tendencias and Arte Fantástico in Madrid.
1954-1955 Living and working in Paris. Joins the Surrealist group and takes part in their activities. Paintings which are organic and random in concept, on canvas and paper, using a wide variety of techniques.
Phenomena series and Grattages. Paints for the first time using the structure of the female body as the source of inspiration.
Marries Madeleine Augot.
1956 Presents a collection of his works at the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, together with his first paintings done entirely in black and white. Women and Self-portraits series.
1957 First exhibition in Paris, at the Galerie Stadler (preface to the catalogue by Michel Tapié).
Founds the El Paso Group, which he leads until it breaks up in 1960. Lectures and publication of several texts and manifestos. Realises the first Crucifixions and various series of satirical pieces on paper.
Birth of his daughter Marina.
1958 Makes the first Imaginary portraits, which include the series devoted to Brigitte Bardot.
Participates in the Venice Biennale, together with Eduardo Chillida and Antoni Tàpies.
1959 Produces several series of large-format paintings, on themes which recur throughout his work: ShroudsPortraitsNudes, Nudes/Landscapes, Priests and Crowds.
Start of his printed works with the series of lithographs entitled Pintiquiniestras.
Publishes the essay Espacio y gesto.
First exhibition with Antoni Tàpies, at the Galerie van de Loo (Munich). Participates in “documenta 2”, Kassel.
Commits himself to political action, which he continues until the end of the Franco period.
Birth of his daughter Ana.
1960 Abandons exclusive use of black and white. Begins the series Imaginary portraits, Vertical women and Profiles and hats. Works on paper: Accumulations, Narrations and Repetitions.
Realises several sculptures.
Receives the Guggenheim Award  (New York).
1961 First exhibition at the Pierre Matisse Gallery (New York).
1962 First etchings and silk screens. Mentira y sueño, a series of satirical drawings and paintings on paper.
Publication in Rome by the Galleria Odyssia of a work devoted to the Crucifixions, with text by Enrico Crispolti.
Birth of his daughter Elena.
1963 Several retrospectives: Stedelijk Museum, Eindhoven; Rotterdamsche Kunstkring; and in museums in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro (works on paper).
Designs the set of La Casa de Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca, staged in Madrid for the first time, directed by Juan Antonio Bardem.
1964 Retrospective of paintings on paper and prints, organised by Eddy de Wilde at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, at the Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, and at the Konsthall, Gothenburg.
Second exhibition at the Pierre Matisse Gallery (New York).
Designs fourteen stained-glass windows for the Jordan Pavilion at the International Fair in New York, as well as a series of colour lithographs entitled Historia de España.
Participates in Documenta III in Kassel. Receives the Carnegie Prize with Eduardo Chillida and Pierre Soulages.
1965 Destroys around one hundred canvases (Cuenca).
1966 First trip to Cuba and retrospective of works on paper at the Casa de las Américas (Havana).
Exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, organised by Roland Penrose.
Begins the series Women in an armchair as well as a new series Imaginary portraits.
Awarded the Grand Prix at the “Bianco e nero” Biennial of Engraving in Lugano.
1967 Makes Paris his permanent base. Works during the summer in Cuenca.
Exhibits Women in an armchair and Imaginary portraits at the Galerie Stadler. Begins the series Imaginary portraits of Goya and Goya’s dogs.
New auto-da-fé at Cuenca, at which event he again destroys some one hundred canvases.
1968 Abandons painting in oils for ten years and devotes himself exclusively to works on paper.
Participates in the Congreso cultural in Havana.
1969 The editor Gustavo Gili publishes his first significant monograph in Barcelona. Text by José Ayllón.
1970 Spends most of the year in Havana.
1971 Realises lithographs at the Centre genevois de gravure contemporaine, Geneva, together with a series of drawings to illustrate Trois visions de Quevedo (Yves Rivière Éditeur). Executes several series of silk screens: The King (with Lezama Lima), Remembrandt (with Bert Schierbeek), Le Chien de Goya (with Jean-Clarence Lambert).
Marries Mercedes Beldarraín.
1972 Attack carried out by an extreme right-wing group at a retrospective of his works on paper at the Galería Juana Mordó (Madrid).
Realises several Large-scale montages and several series of Transformations including La Quinta del Sordo.
1973 Retrospective exhibition featuring his works on paper at the Colegio de Arquitectos de Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Continues the series of Transformations.
Participates in the World Peace Congress held in Moscow.
1974 Retrospective of his works on paper at the Centre M-11, Seville.
Works on a set of Large-scale montages and continues the series of Transformations .
1975 Retrospective of his works on paper at the Galería Maeght, Barcelona.
First trip to Mexico, for a show featuring his work (Galería Juan Martín).
1976 Works mostly on lithographs done on zinc in the workshops of Clot, Bramsen & Georges in Paris; creates the series of silk screens entitled Moi (Me), published by Gustavo Gili. Takes part in the organising committee of the Venice Biennale, exhibiting work as well.
1977 Begins publishing his writings.
Creates the Cámara ardiente, an illustrated book with twelve etchings.
Thanks to numerous protests and shows of support, the expulsion measure to remove him from France is set aside.
Participates in Documenta VI in Kassel.
1978 Exhibits a collection of his most recent graphic works at the Fondation nationale des arts graphiques et plastiques in Paris. Participates in the “Primer Encuentro Iberoamericano de Críticos de Arte y Artistas Plásticos” in Caracas and publishes Notas para una discusión.
Starts working again in oil and on canvas and produces a number of monotype books.
1979 The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, organises a retrospective of his work under the curatorship of Ad Petersen, to be shown later at the Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, and the following year at the Casa de Alhajas, Sala Tiépolo, Madrid, and the Fundación Joan Miró, Barcelona.
Prize at the First Biennial of European Graphic Art, Heidelberg.
In Cuenca, an arson attack destroys some of his archives and collections.
1980 Presents a paper as part of the debate “Pour un portrait de Salvador Dalí” at the Centre Georges Pompidou.
Starting in 1980, takes part each year in many seminars, conferences and symposiums on art and culture.
1981 Retrospective of his works on paper at the Caja de la Inmaculada, Saragossa.
Named Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France).
1982 The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Madrid, mounts a travelling exhibition of his graphic work, to be shown in several cities in Spain.
Publishes a pamphlet entitled Contra el Guernica.
Awarded the Medalla de Oro de Bellas Artes by King Juan Carlos.
1983 Paints and exhibits the first Dora Maar series at the Galerie Stadler. A text by Pierre Daix accompanies the exhibition catalogue entitled “Dora Maar d’après Dora Maar/Portraits raisonnés avec chapeau”.
Designs sets for the ballet Carmen, directed by Carlos Saura and Antonio Gades at the Théâtre de Paris, and Peixos Abissals by Joan Baixas at the Teatro La Claca, Barcelona.
President of the Paris Organising Committee for “World artists against apartheid”.
José María Berzosa directs a film for television about his work.
His daughter Elena dies in an accident.
1984 Begins the series of paintings entitled Autodafé, done on the torn-off covers of books.
1985 Teaches a class for the “Taller de arte actual” at the Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid.
Designs the stage scenery for Woyzeck, directed by Eusebio Lázaro in Madrid.
Creates Die Mauer, a monotype artist's book of superimposed paintings.
The Cabinet des estampes, Geneva, presents a retrospective of his printmaking. First catalogue raisonné of his prints by Mariuccia Galfetti.
Creates a set of large-format paintings in both acrylic and oil.
1986 The Neue Galerie-Sammlung, Aachen, mounts a thematic retrospective show.
Co-runs the seminar “El arte y el mal” at the UIMP, Seville.
1987 Paints Elegía, a work of 20 x 10 m for the ceiling of the Diputación de Huesca. The preparatory drawings are the subject of a travelling exhibition.
Illustrates Don Quijote de la Mancha for the Círculo de Lectores. The originals are later exhibited in various institutions and are still being shown around the world. Publication of a collective work entitled Figura y Fondo.
1988 Does lithographs illustrating Kafka’s Tagebücher.
Publication of El pintor ilustrado, a collection of poems dedicated to the painter, and Elegía, a monograph with a preface by Guy Scarpetta and photos by Jean Bescós.
Co-runs the seminar “El sexo y el arte” at UIMP, Seville.
1989 The Wiener Secession presents a retrospective of his works on paper. An anthology exhibition at Harvard University, Cambridge (USA). The Geneva Musée d’Art et d’Histoire mounts a thematic retrospective of his major paintings curated by Rainer Michael Mason and subsequently shown at IVAM, Valencia (Spain), and in 1990, at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid), the Lenbachhaus (Munich), and the Réfectoire des Jacobins (Toulouse).
Following an eye operation, begins painting again.
1990 Creates a set of large-scale monotypes (published by Carles Taché).
The UIMP, Cuenca, and the Círculo de Lectores organise an exhibition of his illustrated books.
Publication of the book La muerte y la nada with text by Jacques Chessex.
Runs a course in drawing at the Fondazione Antoni Ratti, Como, and (jointly with Guy Scarpetta) the seminar “Escritura como pintura” at UIMP, Seville.
Named Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France).
Death of his daughter Ana.
1991 Works with Carlos Saura and Luis García Navarro on the production of the opera Carmen for the Staatstheater, Stuttgart.
The Diputaciones of Huesca, Saragossa and Teruel mount a retrospective exhibition entitled Decenario, which is later shown at the Palau de la Virreina, Barcelona, and the Palacio Almudí, Murcia.
Retrospective exhibition devoted to his books Retrato de Antonio Saura and Las Tentaciones de Antonio Saura (texts by Julián Ríos). Draws the illustrations to Poesía y otros textos by San Juan de la Cruz.
1992 Designs the exhibition El perro de Goya in the Salas del Arenal, Seville, and in the Museo de Bellas Artes, Saragossa.
The Círculo de Lectores puts together the exhibition Antonio Saura y los libros de su vida which will eventually be shown in Madrid, as well as the Institut Cervantes in Paris and the Sala de la Corona de Aragón, Saragossa.
Publication of Note book (memoria del tiempo).
1993 Designs the set of the ballet El retablo de Maese Pedro by Manuel de Falla for the Ballet de Saragossa.
Publication of Belvédère Miró.
Operation on his hip, which keeps him inactive for several months.
1994 The Museo d’Arte Moderna, Lugano, mounts a retrospective of his work from 1948 to 1990.
The Museo de Teruel presents an exhibition of his early works (oneiric and surrealist works), curated by Emmanuel Guigon.
Awarded the Premio Aragón a las Artes.
Does a series of 218 drawings and paintings on paper called Nulla dies sine linea.
1995 Illustrates Las aventuras de Pinocho, after Collodi, and is awarded the prize for the best book of the year bestowed by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture.
Receives the Grand Prix des Arts de la Ville de Paris and the Prix Liberté, awarded in Sarajevo.
With his brother Carlos, stages and designs the scenery for Bizet’s opera Carmen at the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto.
1996 Curator of the exhibition Después de Goya, una mirada subjetiva, at the Palacio de la Lonja and Palacio de Montemuzo, Saragossa.
1997 Paints and exhibits several large-format paintings at Daniel Lelong's gallery in Paris (Crowds and Imaginary portraits of Goya), together with a new series of Portraits and Self-portraits.
1998 Dies in Cuenca, July 22, 1998.


short biography

Antonio Saura was born in Huesca in 1930 and died in Cuenca in 1998. He began painting and writing in 1947 in Madrid when, suffering from tuberculosis, he was laid up for five years. This was his first foray into art and pictorial experiments. He took Arp and Tanguy as influences, yet his work already stood out thanks to his highly personal style. He produced numerous dreamlike and Surrealist drawings and paintings that usually depict imaginary landscapes and employ a very colourful palette in flat, smooth applications of paint. He made his first stay in Paris in 1952. During his second in the French capital in 1954 and 1955, he met Benjamin Péret and was part of the Surrealist circle, although he and his friend and fellow painter Simon Hantaï soon left the movement. He was using the technique of grattage, or scraping, and had adopted a gestural style along with a radically abstract and always colourful handling the paint that was organic in conception and based on chance. At this time he worked by taking over the space of the canvas in several very distinct ways, creating formal structures that are highly personal and which he would continue to develop in the ensuing years. Forms now appeared that would soon become archetypes of women’s bodies or the human face. These two fundamental themes would come to dominate the greater part of his output. In 1956 Saura embarked on a new range and level of work that would eventually form his major series, Ladies, Nudes, Self-portraits, Shrouds, and Crucifixions, executing these pieces on both canvas and paper. In 1957 in Madrid he founded the group El Paso, which he was to head until it broke up in 1960. He met Michel Tapié and had his first solo show at the Rodolphe Stadler Gallery (Paris), where he would regularly exhibit throughout his life. Stadler also introduced the painter to Otto van de Loo in Munich and Pierre Matisse in New York, both of whom were to represent Saura in the ensuing years. He chose to limit his palette to blacks, greys and browns, and asserted a personal style that was independent of the movements and trends marking his generation. His work followed in the tradition of Velázquez and Goya, and was soon hanging in the major museums. In 1959 Saura produced the first of a number of printed works; he indeed would prove quite a prolific printmaker over the years. He also illustrated numerous books in an original way, including Cervantes’s Don Quixote; Orwell’s 1984; Pinocho, Nöstlinger’s adaptation of the Pinocchio story; Kafka’s Tagebücher, Quevedo’s Trois visions; and many others. In 1960, he started working in sculpture, creating pieces that feature welded metal elements depicting the human face, figures and crucifixions. In 1967 he settled permanently in Paris and joined the opposition to the Franco dictatorship, having a say in numerous debates and controversies in politics, aesthetics and artmaking over the years. He broadened his thematic and pictorial range. Along with the Femmefauteuils (or Womenarmchairs), Saura created series of works such as Imaginary Portraits, Goya’s Dogs and Goya’s Imaginary Portraits. In 1971 he stopped painting on canvas (he would take it up again in 1979) to concentrate on writing, drawing and painting on paper. In 1977 he began publishing his writings and was involved in creating stage designs for theatre, ballet and opera. In 1983 he produced a new and important series of portraits called Dora Maar or Dora Maar Visited. From that year until his premature death in 1998, Saura returned to all his earlier themes and figures, and brilliantly developed them anew, producing perhaps the best part of his large body of work.