Retaule dels penjats (Altarpiece of the Hanged People); and Màrtir (Martyr)

Josep Grau-Garriga

Biennale of Sydney

Biennale of Sydney
Sydney, Australia

"Altarpiece of the Hanged People is a monumental tribute to all unknown martyrs throughout time. Beginning in the early 1970s, Grau-Garriga created three-dimensional woven characters, each a paradigm of anguish, torment and suffering; innocent victims of the actions of others.” – Esther Grau Quintana

A major figure in the contemporary textile-art movement, Josep Grau-Garriga often created awe-inspiring tapestries that he presented in direct dialogue with architectural sites such as churches and forecourts. With its textural, visceral forms, the large-scale Retaule dels penjats (Altarpiece of the Hanged People) radically transforms the central space of the Grand Courts. It acts as a gesture of memorialisation within a context where histories of war and martyrdom are interwoven across the collections, inviting an embodied re-negotiation of these histories across space. This new formation of the work, presented together with the tapestry Màrtir (Martyr), is in keeping with its dynamic history, where Grau-Garriga would alter the display while retaining the work’s powerful symbolism and monumental presence.


  • Title: Retaule dels penjats (Altarpiece of the Hanged People); and Màrtir (Martyr)
  • Creator: Josep Grau-Garriga
  • Date Created: 1972/1976
  • Location Created: Art Gallery of New South Wales
  • Physical Dimensions: 1000 x 600 x 300 cm (installed)
  • Provenance: Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Andrew Cameron AM and Cathy Cameron, and assistance from Acción Cultural Española (AC/E), the Embassy of Spain, Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris / Brussels and Salon 94, New York. Courtesy Esther and Jordi Grau; and Parròquia Sant Josep Oriol de Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona), Spain.
  • Type: sculpture
  • Rights: Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: woven wool, cotton, sisal, jute, hemp and synthetic fibre; steel scaffold
  • Edition: 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020): NIRIN

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