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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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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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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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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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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b. 1914 Klaipėda, Lithuania - d. 1998 Caracas, Venezuela
Gerd Leufert studied at the Hanover School of Art, where Klee and Kandinsky had been notable earlier graduates. He also studied graphic design at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich. After being conscripted and wounded during WWII, Leufert worked as a graphic designer for various German publishing houses.
Attracted by the economic affluence that the oil boom brought to Venezuela, in 1951, Leufert settled in Caracas, becoming a citizen in 1954. He moved to Tarma, a small town on the Venezuelan coast with the artist Gego, who became his lifelong companion. Their artistic collaborations included large scale public space projects integrating sculpture into architectural settings.
Leufert innovated graphic design in Venezuela, turning it into a dynamic medium using new typography and innovative layout design. From 1958 to 1967 he taught art and graphic design at various art schools in Caracas, and from 1968 to 1973 he served as curator of drawings and graphic design at the Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas.
In 1989, Leufert was awarded the Venezuelan National Fine Arts Prize. Works by Leufert are included in such public and private collections as the Museum of Modern Art, NY; The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection among others.
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.
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