Joaquín Torres-García - 1874–949
A Retrospective Exhibition of Works on Paper Commemorating the Fiftieth Anniversary of His Death
The selection contains works on paper never before exhibited such as his 1930 Constructivist self-portrait. From the years he lived in Barcelona, the exhibit includes a large 1901 pencil drawing and two rare 1917 inks that are early examples of his unique Constructivist style.
Torres-García's New York years (1920-1922) were influenced by American popular illustration and cartoons, as is evident in works like WAKE ME UP! and the Jazz Pianist.
His distinctive Pictographs of the late 1920s & 1930s, when he was living in Paris, are given an extensive presentation, including a striking drawing with the image of the Eiffel Tower fused into a grid. Two series of sequential sketchbook pages of 1928-29 are a visual illustration of the development of forms and ideas.
Several drawings and his handwritten ideographic books show Torres-Garcia's use of Indo-American imagery and words.
Relying on the intimate nature of drawings, the exhibition includes carefully selected works that provide the viewer with a unique opportunity to a fuller appreciation of the contribution Torres-García made to the art of our century.
Johnson Review - Courtesy of The New York Times (2 July, 1999)
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.
Please click for Chronology