Torres-García, Joaquín

Torres-García, Joaquín, 1874–1949, Uruguayan painter, b. Montevideo, considered the father of Latin American constructivism. In 1894 his family moved to Barcelona, Spain, where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. Torres-García apprenticed to Antonio Gaudí i Cornet, then experimented with impressionism and postimpressionism (as seen in Garden of the Gallery of Fine Arts, c.1897), the modernist classicism that marks Study for a Composition with Feminine Figures (c.1909–12), and cubism, and began designing wooden toys. During 1920–22, he was in New York, where he exhibited and began manufacturing his toys. Though the flatness of Barcelona Street Scene (1917) anticipates his later constructivism, his New York scenes often soften that flatness. After his return to Europe, he became familiar with the constructivists and developed an interest in pre-Columbian art. He met Piet Mondrian (1929) and became involved in the constructivist group Cercle et Carré [Fr.,=circle and square], helping to organize a constructivist exhibition in Paris. Mondrian's influence can be seen in the grid structure of his compositions, which are filled with images and symbols from European and New World civilizations. Returning to Montevideo (1934), he founded the Association of Constructivist Art, continued to explore pre-Columbian art, and established a workshop (1943) where the principles of his American modernist La Escuela del Sur [Span.,=the school of the south] were taught. Among his later works are Constructivist Composition (1931), Universal Art (1933), Composition (1938), and Constructive City with Universal Man (1942).

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