Joaquín Torres-García, Two White Men, ca. 1929, oil and iron tacks on wood, two parts, from left: 10 1/4 x 3 1/2 x 3/4“, 8 3/4 x 3 x 3/4”.


Joaquín Torres-García

The Menil Collection
1533 Sul Ross Street
September 25, 2009–January 3, 2010

San Diego Museum of Art
1450 El Prado, Balboa Park
February 20–May 30, 2010

Curated by Josef Helfenstein and Mari Carmen Ramírez

One of the key advocates of abstraction in Latin America, Joaquín Torres-García (1874–1949) is best known for paintings that situate pre-Columbian symbols within modernist grids. This exhibition’s focus on the Uruguayan artist’s use of wood unveils a more complex project involving the reconciliation of painting and sculpture, whether through totemlike structures, idiosyncratic assemblages, or toys that verge on folk art. The show comprises some ninety drawings, oil paintings, and works in wood from Torres-García’s formative period in 1920s New York and Europe through his emergence as a pedagogue and champion of Constructive Universalism in the ’30s and ’40s via his own workshop school in Montevideo. The catalogue includes previously untranslated texts by the artist, which should provide further insight into his vision for a transnational modernism.