Key dates

Photo Rafel Tona 1960 by J. Ruyer

1903: Rafel Tona is born on June, 24th in Barcelona. His father is a lawyer and Catalonian autonomist politician.

1917: He attends the School of Art in Barcelona, where he studies drawing, painting and particularly sculpture with the sculptor Josep Llimona. He graduates in 1924 with a gold medal.

1919: He takes part in its first exhibition with the group of Els Evolusionistes.

1920: He works in the studio of the sculptor Pau Gargallo and draws for Barcelona’s satirical newspapers Papitu and D’aci d’allà.

1923: During his first stay in Paris, he attends painting classes at the Académie Charpentier.

1925-1928: Rafel Tona and the Catalan painter Alfred Figueras move to Algiers and establish an academy named Arts where painting, sculpture and drawing are taught. It becomes rapidly an exchange place for all the algerian artists.

1928-1932: Returning to Paris, Rafel Tona splits his time between his own painting, designing fabrics and working on the movie sets in Joinville-le-Pont studios. He helps to create the sets for Pagnol and Korda’s Marius and Pabst’s L’Opéra de quat’sous.

1932-1939: When the Second Republic is proclaimed in Spain, Rafel Tona returns to Barcelona where he opens an advertising agency. In 1936 he joins the PSU (United Socialist Party) and the SDP (Drawers union). He is also actively contributing to the Catalonian Republican movement by drawing many propaganda posters and political comics in the satirical newspaper La Esquella de Torratxa.

1939-1940: As a refugee from the Spanish Civil War, Rafel Tona returns first to France and then to Algeria when the Nazi troops invade France.

1940-1944: In Algiers, Rafel Tona is dedicated to the Resistance. He participates in the organisation of the Allied landings in 1942. Under the patronage of René Capitant, he creates with the painter Louis Bernasconi, the Salons de la Résistance in North Africa to raise money for the movement. He contributes to the newspaper Combat and the Allied propaganda (with posters and flyers). He sets up the itinerant exhibition Kollaboration. At this time, Rafel Tona also establishes strong friendships with Albert Camus, Max-Pol Fouchet, René-Jean Clot, and Jean Amrouche.

1944-1947: Rafel Tona exhibits his work in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Paris. His exhibition in the Champion-Cordier gallery in Paris in 1946 is sponsored by Albert Marquet who also gives him lodgings in his studio in La Frette-sur-Seine.

1948-1960: Back in Algiers, his work is featured in various exhibitions and art shows. He receives the Prix de la Critique in 1950 and the Prix du Salon de La France d’Outre-Mer in 1952. During this time, the Art Museum of Algiers buys several of his paintings.

1960-1987: Rafel Tona returns to live in Paris where he continues to support himself with his painting and sculpture. He organizes many exhibitions of his work both in France and abroad. Several of his paintings are acquired by the Art Museum of Toulouse in 1965 and the National Fund for Contemporary Art in 1980. He dies in Paris on 12th February, 1987.

Churchill poster - Allied propaganda (90x60) Algiers 1943
Churchill poster - Allied propaganda (90x60) Algiers 1943
PSUC propaganda poster (100x70) Barcelona 1936
PSUC propaganda poster (100x70) Barcelona 1936
Patinated plaster (40 cm) 1980
Patinated plaster (40 cm) 1980

Major exhibitions

1940: Galerie Pompadour - Algiers
1943: Galerie 42 - Tunis
1943: Salle Pierre Bordes - Algiers – Exposition des œuvres offertes par les artistes peintres et sculpteurs algériens à la souscription nationale pour la Résistance (Group exhibition)
1944: Galerie Paul Colin - Algiers
1946: Galerie Champion-Cordier - Paris
1947: Galerie Française - Casablanca
1948: Galerie Paul Colin - Algiers
1950: Galerie Robert Martin - Oran
1951: Galerie du Livre - Casablanca
1952: Galerie du Nombre d’Or - Algiers
1955: Galerie du Nombre d’Or - Algiers
1956: Galerie du Nombre d’Or - Algiers
1957: Galerie Comte-Tinchant (Edmond Charlot) - Algiers
1959: Galerie Comte-Tinchant (Edmond Charlot) - Algiers
1961: Galerie 106 - Algiers
1962: Galerie Gérard Mourgue - Paris
1962: Galerie de l’Hôtel de la Poste - Pont-Aven
1963: Galerie Gérard Mourgue - Paris
1964: Galerie Chedel - Geneva (Group exhibition)
1964: Galerie Sonnegh - Zürich
1964: Galerie Marc Polony - Paris
1965: Galerie Maurice Oeuillet - Toulouse
1966: Galerie Gérard Mourgue - Paris
1968: Galerie l’Indifférent - Lyon
1968: Sala Rovira - Barcelona
1969: Galerie Sainte Croix - Tours
1969: Galerie du Centre - La Baule
1970: Musée Néo-Calédonien - Nouméa
1971: Cohen Gallery - New York (Group exhibition)
1971: Galerie Vauban - Dijon
1972: Musée Néo-Calédonien - Nouméa
1974: Sala Rovira - Barcelona
1976: Galerie des Amis des Arts - Aix-en-Provence
1976: Salas de Arte y Cultura - Caja General de Ahorros de Tenerife - Canarias
1977: Galerie André Weil - Paris
1978: Galerie des Maîtres Contemporains - Aix-en-Provence
1980: Sala Rovira - Barcelona
1981: Sala Agora 3 - Sitges (Spain)
1982: Chapelle de la Salpêtrière - Paris (Group exhibition)
1985: Galerie de l’Orangerie - Neuchâtel (Switzerland)
1996: Galerie Australe - Nouméa
2003: Musée des Beaux Arts de Bordeaux (Group exhibition featuring l’Ecole d’Alger collection from the Musée National des Beaux Arts d’Alger)
2006: Musée d’art et d’histoire de Narbonne - France (Permanent collection)
2015: Musée de l’Armée-Hôtel des Invalides - Paris - Churchill-De Gaulle exhibition
2015: Musée Vulliod-Saint-Germain - Pézenas (France) - Centenary of Edmond Charlot (Group exhibition)


Elisabeth Cazenave
Les artistes de l'Algérie
Éditions Bernard Giovanangeli, 2001

Jaume Miratvitlles, Josep Termes, et Carles Fontserè, Carteles de la Republica y de la Guerra Civil
Édicions La Gaya Ciencia, 1978

Edmon Vallès
Historia grafica de la Catalunya autonoma - La Guerra (1936-1939)
Édicions 62, 1978

Marion Vidal-Bué
Algiers et ses peintres
Éditions Paris-Méditerranée, 2000