65 Years of Constructivist Wood: 1930-1995 1995 Autumn

65 Years of Constructivist Wood: 1930-1995

Works by: Julio Alpuy, Lidya Buzio, Marta Chilindron, Gonzalo Fonseca, José Gurvich, Sergio Gutman, Francisco Matto, Manuel Pailós, César Paternosto, Alceu Ribeiro, Ladd Spiegel, Augusto Torres, Horacio Torres and Joaquín Torres-García.

The traditional conception of sculpture as a solid volume was shattered by the Cubist constructions initiated by Picasso in 1912. Built or assembled in cardboard, tin or wood, these figures or objects appear as the extended planes of the Cubist painting or collage, incorporating real space in a dialectical synthesis. The Constructivists continued this transformation of the sculptural experience, creating a new physical language of structure and form. The Constructivist woods in this exhibition illustrate the continuity and vitality of an art form with a long tradition. Many reflect the teachings of the Taller Torres-García, where the art of the Amerindian, African and Oceanic cultures was studied and valued equally with traditional Western art.

Joaquín Torres-García

b. 1874 Montevideo, Uruguay - d. 1949 Montevideo, Uruguay

The Uruguayan painter, muralist, sculptor, teacher, writer, and theoretician, Joaquín Torres-García was born in Montevideo to a Catalan father and a Uruguayan mother. When he was seventeen years old, his family returned to the father’s homeland in Catalonia, Spain. Torres-García would not return to Montevideo for another forty-three years, living in Spain, France, the United States, and Italy.

In Barcelona, he studied at the Academy La Llotja and at the Cercle artistic de Saint Lluc. In 1903 he worked at Antoni Gaudí's studio. Commissioned to decorate a large hall for Barcelona's Palace de la Generalitat, he traveled to Italy in 1912 to study fresco. By 1916, he had completed four large fresco murals. He contributed essays to magazines and newspapers, and his first book, Notes on Art, was published in 1913. In 1917, Torres-García began to design manipulable, didactic wood toys for children, which he continued to do until the 1930s in Paris.

In 1920, Torres-García left Barcelona for good. He settled in New York, and after two years, he returned to Europe; first, he lived in Tuscany, and then in 1926 he moved to Paris. It was there that he met the French artist Jean Hèlion who introduced him to the artists of the avant-garde. He became friends with Jacques Lipchitz, Theo Van Doesburg, Alexander Calder, Piet Mondrian, Le Corbusier, Luis Fernandez, and Amédée Ozenfant. He also renewed his friendship with the sculptor Julio González. With Michel Seuphor, Torres-García founded the group and journal, Cercle et Carré (Circle and Square) in 1930. At the end of 1932, due to the economic effects of the stock market crash, he moved to Madrid.

After eighteen months in the Spanish capital he returned to Uruguay. In Montevideo, he first founded the “Asociación de Arte Constructivo” (AAC) (“The Association of Constructivist Art”) with a group of Uruguayan artists. In the first issue of Círculo y Cuadrado, a magazine inspired by Cercle et Carré which the group renewed, the seminal drawing of the Inverted Map of South America was published. Torres-García’s statement was: “Nuestro norte es el sur” (“Our North is the South"). In 1943, he founded the “Taller Torres-García” (TTG), where he imparted his teachings onto the next generation of artists. He died in Montevideo in August of 1949. In Torres-García's Constructive Universal compositions, he aimed to express a total world view, forging a unique style which united elements of European modernism with the ancient cultures, particularly with the Americas. It appeals equally to reason, to the senses, and to the spirit.

An online catalogue raisonné, which includes comprehensive information about Torres-García’s art, exhibition history, and literary references, as well as a chronology with documentary materials related to the artist’s life and career, is available online at www.torresgarcia.com.

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Julio Alpuy

b. 1919, Cerro Chato, Uruguay - d. 2009, New York City

Growing up in the Uruguayan countryside with little exposure to art, Alpuy first began drawing at the age of twenty. Within a year, the young artist met Joaquín Torres-García. Inspired by his theories on Constructive Universalism, Alpuy joined the Taller Torres-García.

In 1944, Alpuy painted two murals as part of the Taller's project to decorate the St. Bois Hospital in Uruguay. He would continue to paint murals throughout his career. Encouraged by Torres-García, Alpuy and other Taller members travelled to the Andean region of South America in 1945. This experience, along with other periods of travel during the 1950s in South America, Europe, and the Middle East profoundly affected his work. For Alpuy, nature functions as a framework for his archetypal personal symbolism, based on a fascination with the organic and the primordial.

In 1961, Alpuy immigrated to New York, where he remained for the duration of his life. Alpuy's work has been featured in numerous exhibitions about the Taller Torres-García, as well as in several international solo exhibitions. It is also included in major international collections, including: the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Morgan Library and Museum, New York; The Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection, New York; and the Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales, Montevideo, Uruguay.

 

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Lidya Buzio

b. 1948, Montevideo, Uruguay -  d. 2014, Greenport, New York

A unique talent in the world of ceramics, Buzio learned to create, form, and shape clay sculptures from the master ceramicist José Collell, based on ancient Amerindian practices.  Buzio continued to work within this same method, cutting earthenware slabs into geometric shapes, and then combining these cylinders, cones, and hemispheres to form the body of her sculptures.  Using special pigments which she mixed herself, the artist drew and painted directly onto her unfired works.  Before firing, Buzio burnished her pieces; this step serves to fuse the paint into the clay and results in the unique luminosity and distinctive hues that characterize her artworks. 

After moving to New York in the early 70s', Buzio's pictorial vocabulary shifted to reflect her new urban surroundings, inspiring her to create her New York Cityscapes, with their evocative rooflines, cast iron architecture, and water towers.  Her last series of abstract geometric designs executed in bright primary colors, represented a new direction in her practice. 

Buzio's ceramics are found in the Brooklyn Museum New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York; the Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin; the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas; the Honolulu Academy of Art, Hawaii; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the National Museum of History and the Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan.  Buzio’s work is also included in several other international museums and private collections.

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Gonzalo Fonseca

b. 1922 Montevideo, Uruguay - d. 1997 Seravezza, Italy

In 1942, Fonseca chose to leave his study of architecture in order to pursue an artistic career.  Working under the direction of Joaquín Torres-García, Fonseca joined the artist's workshop, where he participated in the group's collective exhibitions. In 1945, Fonseca traveled with other Taller Torres-García members through Argentina, Peru, and Bolivia to study pre-Columbian art.  This experience, along with numerous trips throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Egypt during the 1950s, profoundly affected Fonseca's formal and theoretical approach to art. 

Although Fonseca left the College of Architecture in Montevideo as a young man, an emphasis on structure and architectonics is present throughout his oeuvre. As a teenager, he taught himself to sculpt in stone and later returned to sculpture after studying ceramics in Spain in 1953.

Fonseca moved to the United States in 1958, settling in New York. He later spent his time between New York and Italy, where he created large-scale marble sculptures. In 1965, Fonseca contributed a playground and site-specific sculptures to the Lake Anne Village Center in Reston, Virginia, a collaborative project with architects James Rossant and William Conklin. He was invited to create a monumental concrete tower for the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, and he also participated in the Faret Tachikawa Fund project in Tokyo, Japan in 1995. Fonseca also illustrated books by authors including Jorge Luis Borges, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Michel de Montaigne.

Artworks by Fonseca are included in the collections of: the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, Austin; the Portland Art Museum, Oregon; the Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Valencia, Spain; and the Palacio Libertad, Montevideo.

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José Gurvich

b. 1927, Lithuania – d. 1974 New York City

Populated with figures and images that reflect his Jewish upbringing, Gurvich’s participation with the Taller Torres-García and his profound admiration for the European art masters Breughel and Bosch, his artworks combine a unique personal style with technical mastery.  


Gurvich was born in Lithuania and moved to Uruguay with his family in 1932. There, he excelled at both music and the visual arts, and it was while studying the violin alongside Horacio Torres that the young artist was introduced to Joaquín Torres-García.  

Soon after, Gurvich joined the Taller Torres-García, participating in the workshop's exhibitions, writing for its publications, executing mural projects, and teaching.

In 1954 and again in 1964, the artist travelled to Europe and Israel, where he lived as a shepherd on the Ramot Menasche kibbutz. These experiences profoundly influenced the iconography of his paintings and sculptures. Moving to the United States in 1970, Gurvich joined his fellow Taller artists, Julio Alpuy, Horacio Torres, and Gonzalo Fonseca in New York City, where he continued to produce art until his premature death in 1974. The Gurvich Foundation was created in Montevideo in 2001, and is now known as the Museo Gurvich.

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Marta Chilindron

b. 1951, La Plata, Argentina – lives in New York City since 1969

From her early veristic paintings to her contemporary sculptural installations, Marta Chilindron creates art that explores perspectival, temporal, and spatial relationships. In the 1990s, Chilindron began experimenting with furniture forms, altering their shapes to reflect her point of view in relation to physical space. In 1998, the artist began making collapsible, geometric sculptures in transparent colored acrylics, using hinges to allow movement. These pieces invite the viewer to participate, manipulate, and alter their shapes.

In 2010, Chilindron was invited to create a public installation as part of the Fokus Lodz Biennale in Poland, and her sculptures were featured as a special project at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, California in 2013. The artist had a retrospective exhibition at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts in 2014, and at Point of Contact Gallery at Syracuse University in 2018. She was also invited by El Museo del Barrio to be part of their "Diálogos" section at New York’s 2019 Frieze Art Fair. Chilindron has recently completed a large-scale sculpture titled Houston Mobius commissioned by the University of Houston for the inauguration of their Temporary Public Art Program.

Chilindron's artworks are included in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX; the Phoenix Art Museum, AZ; El Museo del Barrio, NYC; the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami, FL; the State University of New York (SUNY), Old Westbury, NY; the Fonds d’art contemporain de la Ville de Genève (FMAC), Switzerland; the IBEU Cultural Institute, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as well as numerous renowned private collections.

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Francisco Matto

b. 1911, Montevideo, Uruguay - d. 1995, Montevideo, Uruguay

At the age of twenty-one, Matto traveled to Tierra del Fuego and acquired the first Pre-Columbian pieces of what was to become a major collection and an important influence on his art. In 1962, Matto opened his Museum of Pre-Columbian Art housed ceramics, textiles, and sculpture from Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.

In 1969, Matto won the first prize for the silver coin he designed for the Central Bank of Uruguay, awarded by the Gesellschaft für Internationale Geldgeschichte, an international numismatic association based in Frankfurt, Germany. In 1982, he was invited to participate in the First International Meeting for Open Air Sculpture in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

Art, for Matto, was a means of communicating with the divine, and the elemental forms of his sculptures became vehicles to facilitate the quasi-religious function of his art. In his Totem Series, Matto sought to develop the animistic principle through the liberation of the sign.

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Manuel Pailós

b. 1918 Galicia, Spain - d. 2004 Montevideo, Uruguay

The child of Spanish immigrants, Pailós studied painting at the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Montevideo before joining the Taller Torres-Garcia in 1943.  Profoundly influenced by the pedagogy and theories of the workshop's founder, Joaquín Torres-García, Pailós was an important contributing member of the Taller throughout its existence, working as both a student and eventually a teacher. 

In addition to his drawing and painting production, Pailós executed sculptures in wood, granite, and other materials, and many of his reliefs and free-standing sculptures now grace parks and plazas in Montevideo.

 Works by Pailós have been exhibited extensively throughout Latin America, and in 1991 the artist was honored by the Spanish regional government of Galicia with a museum exhibition and sculpture commission for the gardens at the University of Santiago de Compostela.

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Augusto Torres

b. 1913 Tarrasa, Spain - d. 1992 Barcelona, Spain

The eldest son of Joaquín Torres-García was born in Terrassa in the province of Barcelona. While living in Paris in the 1920s, Augusto met many of the great figures of twentieth century art, including Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, and Joan Miró. During the 1930s, he worked as an assistant and apprentice to the sculptor Julio González and studied drawing in Amedée Ozenfant’s Academy. It was also in Paris that Augusto developed his lifelong passion for tribal and primitive art. The artist was introduced to American Indian art by the painter Jean Hélion, a friend of his father’s. He later formed a great collection of American Indian art.

After Torres-García brought his family to Uruguay in 1934, Augusto participated in the Taller Torres-García. He later went on become a teacher himself. In 1945 he began his long collaboration with the Spanish architect Antonio Bonet. In 1960, he was awarded a grant by the New School in New York where he lived for two years. During this time, Augusto traveled to Montana to visit Blackfoot Indian reservations. From 1973 on, he divided his time between Barcelona and Montevideo. 

Augusto Torres’ art is included in the collections of the Museo Artes Visuales, Montevideo; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Santa Bárbara Museum of Art; the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Miró Foundation, Barcelona.

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Horacio Torres

b. 1924 Livorno, Italy - d. 1976 New York City

Horacio Torres was born in 1924 when his father, the painter Joaquín Torres-García was living in Livorno, Italy. The family moved to Paris in 1926 where Horacio grew up, and was introduced to Alexander Calder's Circus. In 1934 the family left Europe to settle in Montevideo. Horacio was a member of the Association of Constructivist Art and The Taller Torres-García. In 1942 he traveled to Perú and Bolivia with his brother Augusto to study pre-Columbian Art. He painted two large constructivist murals in the walls of a hospital in Montevideo, a collective project launched by his father with the Taller Torres-García artists. In 1947, Horacio won a competition to paint a large mural for the offices of A.N.C.A.P. the state owned "National Administration of Fuels, Alcohols and Portland." After his father's death in 1949, he traveled to Europe, lived at the Maison du Mexique in the Cité Universitaire, and travelled throughout Europe visiting the great museums. Having returned to Uruguay, Horacio began collaborating with the architects Antonio Bonet, in Buenos Aires, and in Montevideo, with Mario Paysee Reyes, who commissioned large wall reliefs in cut brick for the church of the Archdiocese Seminary.

In 1969 he settled in New York where he began painting large representational canvases of nude figures. Curator Kenneth Moffet wrote “that this change to the figurative involved perceiving that his veneration for tradition and his desire to be modern were problematic and related impulses. His modernity had to be won, his traditionalism justified, and the friction that their conjunction generated proved fruitful." The figurative canvases were first shown at the Noah Goldowsky Gallery in 1972, and two years later, in an individual exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Horacio died in New York in 1976.

His work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Brandeis University Museum, Waltham, Massachusetts; Hastings College, Nebraska; Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence; Musée d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Edmonton Museum, Alberta, Canada; the Biblioteca Nacional, Montevideo; and the Museo Blanes, Montevideo, Uruguay.

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César Paternosto

b. 1931 La Plata, Argentina – lives in Segovia, Spain

Around 1957, César Paternosto started creating artworks based on Geometric Abstraction. After attending a serial music concert, he was enthralled by Anton Webern's pregnant silences, which influenced the next development in his art. By the end of the 1960s, Paternosto moved the emphasis of depicted matter in his paintings to the outer-sides of the canvas, leaving the front blank. By shifting the attention to the sides, he was questioning the traditional viewing of paintings frontally, and as the range of the pictorial field was expanded to the sides, the three dimensionality of the painting turned it into an object. His 2012 essay, “Painting as Object: Geometric Forms and Lateral Expansions,” explained the evolution and continuity of his idea, from the early lateral vision canvases, to his most recent work.
In 1977, Paternosto began to travel to Bolivia and Peru to study the archaeological sites Tiwanaku, Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu. These trips marked an important turning point in his work sparking new formal explorations in form, composition, and color. By rooting his art in American autochthonous traditions rather than in the modern European model, Paternosto created a new and original type of abstraction based on the centuries-old woven textiles and sculptural stones of the Inca.
Paintings by Paternosto are found in various prestigious collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; the Kunstmuseum, Bern, Switzerland; and the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany, amongst others.

Please click for CV and Chronology

The City as Muse: Works by Lidya Buzio and Sarah Grilo
2021 Spring

Kinetic Masters & Their Legacy
2019-2020 Autumn-Spring

Geometry at Play. Sculpture by Marta Chilindron
2019 Spring-Summer

César Paternosto, Rhythm of the Line
2019 Winter/Spring

Abstracting Gender, Seven Latin American Women Artists
2018 Winter-Spring

Expanding the Line: Drawing, Video, and Sculpture
2017-2018 Autumn-Winter

Horacio Torres: Early Works
2016 Autumn

Under the Influence
2016 Summer

Francisco Matto, Another Way of Seeing
2016 Winter-Spring

The South was Their North: Artists of the Torres-García Workshop
2015-2016 Autumn-Winter

Face to Face
2015 Winter

Art Basel Miami Beach 2014
December 4-7, 2014

Gurvich Abstract Works (1946-1973)
2013 Winter

Contemporary Abstraction: Recent Works by Gallery Artists
2013 Autumn

Lidya Buzio - Ceramics
2012 Winter

César Paternosto - Painting as Object: the Lateral Expansion. New Works.
2012 Autumn

Marta Chilindron - Constructions
2011 Autumn

Augusto Torres - Paintings and Drawings 1940-1980
2010 Autumn

Bright Geometry
2010 Summer

Painted Ideas
2009 Autumn

Line - Plane - Volume / Sculpture: 1944-2006
2006 Winter

Works ON & OF Paper - Modern and Contemporary
2005 Autumn

José Gurvich - Americas Society exhibition
2005 Autumn

Marta Chilindron - Recent Works
2004 Spring

Julio Alpuy - Works of Wood and Drawings 1960-2003
2003 Autumn

Homage Geometria Sensível - 25 Years Later
2003 Spring - Summer

Modernism: Montevideo & Buenos Aires 1930-1960
2001 - 2002 Winter

César Paternosto - WHITE/RED
2001 Autumn

A Latin American Metaphysical Perspective
2000 Autumn

José Gurvich - Paintings and Drawings
2000 Summer

Square Roots
2000 Winter

Francisco Matto - Portraits, Totems and Graphisms
1999 Autumn

Joaquín Torres-García - 50th Commemorative Exhibition
1999 Summer

North and South Connected: Abstraction of The Americas
1998 Autumn

Four Artists: Constructivist Roots
1998 Summer

Julio Alpuy - Journeys on Paper
1997 Autumn

Marta Chilindron - Dimensions
1997 Spring

The Still Life
1996 Spring

Joaquín Torres-García - 1874-1949
1995 Summer

César Paternosto - Paintings, Sculpture & Works on Paper
1995 Spring

José Gurvich - 1927-1974
1994 Winter

Julio Alpuy - Works 1963-1993
1994 Summer

Francisco Matto - Works 1944-1992
1993 Autumn