Lot 20
  • 20

Joaquín Torres-García (1874-1949)

600,000 - 800,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Joaquín Torres-García
  • Grafismo infinito
  • signed and dated 1937 center right
  • oil on cardboard mounted on wood
  • 21 1/4 by 33 1/4 in.
  • 54 by 84.5 cm


Estate of the Artist
Sidney Janis, New York
Rose Fried Gallery, New York
The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Markus Mizné, Paris
Sale: Christie's, New York, 19th and 20th Century Latin American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, December 1, 1981, lot 123, illustrated in color


New York, Sidney Janis, Joaquín Torres-García, April 3-22, 1950
Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, Works of Art from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Markus Mizné, Summer 1966, no. 4
Lisboa, Fundação Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva, May 9-July 21, 1996; Pontevedra, Museo de Pontevedra, August-September 1996, J.Torres-García: Obra constructivista, no. 19, illustrated in color


Artnews, April 1950, p. 45, illustrated
Prisma, Revista Estudios de crítica de arte, no. 11-12, November-December 1957, illustrated
María Luisa Torrens, "Significación del Taller Torres-García", El País, 1959, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Torres-García was living in Montevideo when he painted Grafismo infinito. He had returned to his native Uruguay in 1934 after almost four decades living abroad in Barcelona, Italy, and France, with brief stints in New York and Madrid.  During his great Paris phase dating from 1926 to 1932, Torres-García developed Constructive Universalism. Once back in Montevideo, he continued to define this concept, and the years 1937 and 1938 mark a ground-breaking new chapter in his theory.

Most paintings of the same date as Grafismo infinito are monochrome, as at the time Torres-García was dreaming of realizing monumental works.  When the artist disembarked from the ship that brought him to Uruguay, he declared to the press that he wanted to make in stone what he had previously painted on canvas.  For him, stone was a numinous material and an ideal medium upon which he could engrave ideas that would be preserved for posterity.  In 1937, the same year that Grafismo infinito was painted, he achieved his ambitions with the construction of the Monumento Cósmico, a pink granite wall inscribed with symbols and located in Montevideo's Parque Rodo.  For him, the simplicity of a line carved in stone endowed it with everlasting force, and he wished to replicate this effect in his easel works.

Torres-García organized the structure of Grafismo infinito in a balanced counterpoint between grid compartments containing symbols and others left blank.  These "empty" compartments were painted with loose brushstrokes to simulate the rough surface of stone. The artist repeated this same system in other paintings from this same year, most notably the Centre Pompidou's canvas, Composición Universal (Figure 1). In these works, larger rectangles and symbols are juxtaposed with smaller, tighter chains in different patterns to create lines in zig-zags, waves, and horizontal and vertical parallel bars.  This intricate configuration of pictograms embedded in the grid provides Grafismo infinito with the sense of an endless, textured surface.

Cecilia de Torres, New York, 2014