Joaquín Torres-García
Spanish-Uruguayan painter and sculptor



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Joaquín Torres-García
Spanish-Uruguayan painter and sculptor
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Date of Birth

July 28, 1874

Date of Death

August 08, 1949

More about Joaquín Torres-García

jcappetta's picture


Joaquín Torres-García spent his life half chasing money, half chasing concepts; both of which are slippery buggers.

Torres-García appears to have inherited this double-quest from daddy-o, who dragged his kids halfway around the world to escape his debts (actually it’s more like ¼ of the way around from Montevideo to Barcelona but you get what I mean).

Joaquin bopped around the Northern hemisphere for 42 years, halfheartedly pursuing each portion of his two-headed mission. In his desire to make bank he started an art school for mural painting in Spain and a toy manufacturing business in Italy, both failed; he tutored students in drawing until marrying one student’s daughter; and took commissions from Anton Gaudi (looks great on résumés).

He simultaneously chased concepts around like a chicken with its head cut off. He dabbled in Catalan nationalism for a while until it developed an authoritarian tone, which was all the rage in the early 20th century. He exhibited with Société Anonyme in New York City and Cercle et Carré in Paris, he gave some lectures in Madrid, but kept getting bored with superficial styles and unresponsive students (hungover? on dope? kids these days...) and moving on to the next thing.

Eventually he returned to Montevideo where he declared Europe and colonialism officially dead, “If [writers, painters, or composers] didn’t learn the lessons of Europe when they should have done, too bad for them because the moment has passed.” Joaquin determined that the whole northern hemisphere was passé, he famously inverted the map of South America, hollered out “Our North is the South!” and flipped the bird to the European modernism with which he had come of age.

Having finally completed the concept half of his life’s journey with his discovery of “post-europe” he spent the rest of his life writing books about how great art was before that jerk Chris Columbus showed up and copying ancient symbols on stone plates and canvas. This tradition has survived three generations and will probably continue as long as MoMA continues to insist that TorresGarcía is the only Latin American artist that has ever existed.




  1. Ades, Dawn, Guy Brett. Art in Latin America: The Modern Era, 1820-1980. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989. 144. Accessed June 6, 2017. .com/books?id=lT84yyDd_uMC&pg=PA144&lpg=PA144&dq=cosmic monument torres garcia&source=bl&ots=g
  2. Art and Antiques Magazine. November 2014. “Latin American Original.” Art & Antiques Magazine. Accessed June 6, 2017. /2014/11/joaquin-torres-garcia-art/
  3. The Editors of Encyclopeadia Britannica. “Joaquin Torres-Garcia: Uruguayan Painter.” Encyclopeadia Britannica. Accessed June 6, 2017. /biography/Joaquin-Torres-Garcia
  4. Jiménez, Maya. “Torres García, Inverted America.” Khan Academy. Accessed June 6, 2017.
  5. Rank, Anna. “Torres García and the Pre-Columbian Art.” Arte Mercusor. Accessed June 6, 2017.
  6. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. 2017. “Joaquín Torres García.” Guggenheim: Collection Online. Accessed June 6, 2017. joaquin-torres-garcia

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Joaquín Torres-García

Joaquín Torres García (28 July 1874 – 8 August 1949) was an Uruguayan / Spanish artist ("l'artista uruguaianocatalà Joaquim Torres Garcia"), was born in Montevideo, Uruguay on July 28, 1874. As an adolescent he emigrated to Catalunya, Spain,where he initiated his career as an artist in 1891. For the next three decades, he embraced Catalan identity leading Barcelona’s and Europe's art and culture to its utmost vanguards. A ‘renaissance or universal man’; painter, sculptor, muralist, novelist, writer, teacher and theorist. He was also active in United States, Italy, France and Uruguay from where his influence encompasses a personal presence in European, North American and South American modern art. He dealt the eternal dilemma between the old and the modern, the classical and the avant-garde, reason and feeling, figuration and abstraction with a simple and brilliant metaphor: there is no contradiction or incompatibility. Like Goethe, he seeks the integration between classicism and modernity.

He is known for his collaboration with Gaudi in 1903 on the stained glass windows for the Palma Cathedral and the Sagrada Família. He decorated with monumental frescoes the medieval Palau de la Generalitat seat of the Catalan government. His art is associated with archaic universal cultures; Mediterranean cultural traditions, Noucentisme, and Modern Classicism. He developed a unique style first described as ‘Art Constructif’ while living in Paris’ 1930's. Arte Constructivo (Constructive Art), a school he opened in Madrid, will be continued as Universalismo Constructivo (Universal Constructivism), a treaty he published in South-America while teaching through his workshop schools “Asociación de Arte Constructivo” (Constructive Art Association) and ‘El Taller Torres-Garcia’. A unique style encompassing classic/archaic traditions with XX century's isms: Cubism, Dada, Neo plasticism, Primitivisme, Surrealism, Abstraction.

As a theoretician he published more than one hundred and fifty books, essays and articles written in Catalan, Spanish, French, English. In his lifetime he gave more than 500 lectures. An indefatigable teacher, Torres founded several art schools in Spain and Montevideo and numerous art groups including the first European abstract art group and magazine Cercle et Carré (circle and square) in Paris in 1929.

Retrospectives in Paris in 1955 and Amsterdam in 1961 are the earliest to document historically the place of Torres-García in the currents of abstract art. In the United States he exhibited in New York's 1920s when the Whitney Studio Club, The Society of Independent artists and the Societe Anonyme were giving their first steps. In the 1930s Albert Eugene Gallatin exhibited his work in the Museum of Living Art with Modern masters; Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger, etc. The Museum of Modern Art opened its Latin American collection exhibition in the 1940s with the acquisition of his works. Sidney Janis and Rose Fried Galleries sponsored important shows from the 1950s. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum opened a retrospective exhibition in 1970's. Recent retrospectives in The Museum of Modern Art (2015) and Acquavella Galleries (2018), exhibited his art from a contemporary perspective.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Joaquín Torres-García.