Lot 18
  • 18

Joaquín Torres-García (1874-1949)

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Joaquín Torres-García
  • Formas abstractas ensambladas (Assembled Abstract Forms)
  • signed lower left; also inscribed AAÇ lower right 
  • tempera on cardboard


The Estate of the Artist, Montevideo 
The Collection of Ifigenia Torres, Montevideo
The Estate of Ifigenia Torres, Montevideo 
Galerie Jan Krugier, Ditesheim & Cie, Geneva
Private Collection, Spain
Cecilia de Torres, Ltd., New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner 


Montevideo, Comisión Nacional de Bellas Artes, Torres-García: Colección Privada de Montevideo, December, 1962, no. 15 
Montevideo, Amigos del Arte, Arte Constructivo: Joaquín Torres-García, October 25, 1965, no. 4 
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, October 25, 2015–February 15, 2016; Madrid, Fundación Telefónica, May 16–September 11, 2016; Málaga, Museo Picasso, October 10, 2016–January 29, 2017; Joaquín Torres-García: The Arcadian Modern, p. 148, illustrated in color 

Catalogue Note

There are moments in Torres-García's art when the sum of his searches resulted in works of unsurpassed beauty and importance. One of the most inspired triumphs not only in Torres-García's career, but in the whole of Twentieth Century pictorial abstraction, is a number of works he painted in Montevideo between 1935 and 1938. When he returned to South America, Torres-García's goal was to establish a cultural distance from Europe in order to generate a uniquely American idiom. These paintings represent  a kind of abstraction that is uniquely his own, for after so much debating for and against it, he attained an unprecedented expression that, unlike his previous characteristic grids with figure symbols where he sought to represent a total and universal world view, in these paintings, he referred to a mental and spiritual order. 

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
October 2017