They constitute a startling achievement, because for many years, Torres-García resisted to divorce representation. Despite his friendship and great appreciation for the Neoplasticist purist masters: Theo van Doesburg, Jean Gorin, and Piet Mondrian, Torres-García saw their adherence to a strict and unyielding form of abstraction as a repression of some aspects of man's complex and diverse nature. In a letter to Gorin he stated, "for those who believe in a certainty, they only have limitations," and to van Doesburg he pleaded, "you know that I can't stick strictly to a completely abstract, pure art."
The geometric configuration of forms in an ascendant rhythm, a crescendo of curves and escalating angles that seem to attach to a central axis, is unique to Assembled Abstract Forms. Its color is also unprecedented: to black and white, Torres-García added a steely grey, yellow ocher, and deep earth red, the only work in the series that features such a tonal harmony. The forms are strongly shaded and loosely brushed with tempera, which was absorbed by the cardboard's porous and matte surface, a chalky quality Torres-García preferred. Most of these extraordinary paintings are in museum collections: San Francisco, Houston, Guggenheim, MoMA, Reina Sofía, and IVAM, Assembled Abstract Forms is one of a few still in private hands. In "The Anonymous Rule: Joaquín Torres-García, the Schematic Impulse, and Arcadian Modernity," Luis Pérez Oramas' essay for the recent Torres-García retrospective at MoMA, he described this group of works as "one of the most inspired achievements of Torres-García's career… they are anachronistic in that they could belong not only to the 1930's when they were made, but to any other point in the history of modern painting. They have, in the end, achieved timelessness."
Cecilia de Torres
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