Joaquín Torres-García - Latin America New York Wednesday, November 18, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Estate of the artist
    Ifigenia Torres, Montevideo
    Estate of Ifigenia Torres
    Private Collection, New York
    Jan Krugier Gallery, New York
    Private Collection
    Christie's, Paris, Art Contemporain, May 30, 2011, lot 13
    Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

  • Literature

    E. Jardí, Joaquín Torres-García., 1973, p.228 (illustrated)
    A. Maslach, Joaquín Torres-García: sol y luna del arcano, 1998, p. 575 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Joaquín Torres-García was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1874, where he lived until he was 17 years old. His family then moved to Mataró, Barcelona where he enrolled at the Escuela Oficial de Bellas Artes. Shortly after he joined the Catalan cultural movement, Noucentisme, which would provide the foundation for his development as an artist. His particular style of Noucentisme rejected modernism and embodied a classicist approach. Torres-García believed that Classicism provided him with a model of order, a language, and an educational reference that would overcome the realist concept of representation. This enabled him to create a type of Catalan art that also shared a universal vision. However, his works were more radical than those of his contemporaries, which caused him to be misunderstood and later excluded from the Catalan intelligentsia. In 1917, his work became even more radical as he began depicting urban scenes that were faithful to the structure of the pictorial plane yet far from any realist criteria of representation. Hence, even at this early stage in his career Torres-García’s strictly geometric, rational and synthetic constructivist style began to subtly emerge. However, the artist’s avant-garde style was not fully appreciated in Europe and, due to financial issues, he was eventually forced to return to Uruguay.

    Torres-García’s return to Uruguay after 43 years of absence marked a pivotal moment in his career, coinciding with the time during which the present lot was created. He was delighted to witness the grand twentieth century metropolis that the capital of Uruguay had become, but he recognized that the artistic life in the city was outmoded. To this end, he started publishing innumerable articles in various papers, gave lectures and exhibited extensively throughout Montevideo. This was for the sole purpose of instructing his countrymen and gaining new converts to the cause of modern art. Importantly, in his native country he finally found a newly fresh artistic environment where he developed Constructive Universalism to its full potential. He began to introduce a series of symbolic and geometric forms, arranged with a remarkable sense of structural rhythm. These orthogonal symbols which include squares, triangles and other archetypes associated with Pre-Columbian art, alluded to the world of reason, matter and emotion. Torres-García also realized that his concept of Constructivism adapted perfectly to the cosmovision of various indigenous civilizations given their preference for abstraction and two-dimensional figures over naturalistic representation in their plastic arts.

    The still life rendered in this work can also be placed within the larger panorama of the twentieth century aesthetic movements, where the painting is imbued with the aesthetic of Cubism, seen in the composition and palette. Furthermore, the Constructivism and palette of earthy and red undertones also allude to the artist’s series of wooden toys. This, in turn, evokes the Torres- García’s obsessive interest in wood as an artistic medium, which was, at the same time, something intimate and personal, as it related to his youth in Uruguay. The material of wood reminded him of his father’s sawmill next to their family owned shop in Montevideo during his youth.

    In short, Objetos con estructura interior, 1940 is representative of a very important period within the artist’s oeuvre. This still life perfectly exemplifies Torres-García’s pictorial temperament. Indeed, in describing these quotidian elements from the reality around him, he does so by synthesis, rather than analysis, denoting more importance to the essence than to the detail. He remains in the world of figuration yet integrates abstraction’s structural grid within the composition. Torres-García accomplishes this by incorporating Cubist affiliations and Pre- Columbian abstract aesthetics within his work, thereby giving shape to and coloring his unique and masterful Constructive Universalism.

  • Artist Biography

    Joaquín Torres-García

    Uruguayan • 1874 - 1949

    Joaquín Torres-García was born in Montevideo and moved to Barcelona with his family, studying at the Escuela Oficial de Bellas Artes. The Catalan Noucentismo movement provided the foundation for his artistic development. His work was also influenced by Neo-Plasticism, Cubism and Vibrationism, which fused Cubism and Futurism with urban imagery.

    Torres-García returned to Uruguay after a 43-year absence. While at home, he continued to develop his iconic style of Constructive Universalism, a chief contribution to modernism that affected many younger generations of Uruguayan artists. This style aspired to establish a universal structural unity through synthetic abstraction. In order to accomplish this, Torres-García synthesized rather than analyzed the quotidian elements and urban scenes from reality. While remaining in the world of figuration, he integrated abstraction's structural grids within the composition, also incorporating pre-Columbian aesthetics.

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Objectos con estructura interior

oil on board
20 1/2 x 30 3/4 in. (52.1 x 78.1 cm)
Signed and dated "40 J.T.G." center right.
This is work No. 1940.35 from the Online Catalogue Raisonné under the direction of Cecilia de Torres, Assisted by Susanna V. Temkin

$180,000 - 250,000 

Sold for $233,000

Contact Specialist
Kaeli Deane
Head of Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1352

Latin America

New York Auction 18 November 2015 6pm