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Joaquín Torres García: The Arcadian Modern
at the Museum of Modern Art in New York

Walter Raymond

A representative selection of the oeuvre of an artist who lived in the last quarter of the 19th century and continues to be more relevant today than many contemporary artists.



Until February 15, 2016, the exhibition Joaquín Torres García: The Arcadian Modern will be on display on the sixth floor of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, It is a retrospective of the art of Torres García, ranging from his early works in Barcelona in the late 19th century to his last pieces from Montevideo, in 1949. The exhibit includes 190 paintings, sculptures, frescoes, drawings and collages.

Torres García
Atomic Energy.

Joaquín Torres García, an artist without parameters

Dissatisfied with the vanguards of the 20th century, Torres García created his pictorial representation of reality. Cecilia Buzio de Torres, a staunch promoter of his work, ranks the artistic vision of Torres García (1874-1949), as the fourth greatest artistic movement of the 20th century. "I think that Torres García’s contribution to modernism was to go beyond cubism”, she said.

The "constructive universalism" of Torres García

As an expert, she defines the direction taken by the Uruguayan painter as a particular confluence of three major creative trends of the time; cubism, surrealism and neo-surrealism, taking from surrealism the world of the subconscious to integrate it to the plasticity of cubism and structural purity of neoclassicism, in a perfect creative amalgam. It should also be mentioned the influence of pre-Columbian and Indian art, expressions that Torres García also assimilated, understanding their relevance and incorporating them into his aesthetic.

Torres García
(L) Drawing; (R) Self Portrait.

A Latin artist at the MoMA

According to the curator, Luis Pérez-Oramas, the exhibition Joaquín Torres García: The Arcadian Modern should not be construed as a New York victory for a Spanish artist since his works have been on display at MoMA for many years. Rather it should be considered as a fitting tribute from a city like New York—so important for the art world—to one of the most relevant modern artists of Latin origin.

The sample is a representative selection of the work of an artist who lived during the last quarter of the 19th century, along with Toulouse-Lautrec, Proust, Zola, Nietzsche and Bergson. He also shared the first half of the 20th century with Einstein, Wittgenstein, Mondrian and Barnet Newman, and still shows today a validity that many contemporary artists would envy, concluded Pérez-Oramas.

Torres García
Canopy The Fair.

The return to New York

Torres García
first came to New York in 1920. "New York is my city," he say at the time, according to the book New York, Impressions of an Artist. He worked as a designer for toy companies, painted backdrops for theater performances and wrote advertising copy. But Joaquín Torres García became overwhelmed by New York. He found there a commercial conception of art very different from the European purism. Today, he returns— through his works—to the city he loved and at some point came to hate, to receive a deserved tribute as one of the masters of contemporary art.  ■

More on this topic

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Three spaces to visit in Mexico if you love the arts, culture, and architecture. 

The Broad: Los Angeles' New Art Museum
The Museum was financed by philanthropists Edythe & Eli Broad and will house their personal collection of more than 2,000 works of art. 

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