Lot 176
  • 176

José Gurvich

40,000 - 60,000 USD
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  • José Gurvich
  • Estructura con figuras
  • Signed J. Gurvich and dated 1960 (upper left) 
  • Oil on board relief
  • 31 1/8 by 39 in.
  • 79 by 99 cm


Mr. & Mrs. C.R. Alderton, Montevideo
Acquired from the above


Madrid, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía; Austin, Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas; Monterrey, Museo de Monterrey; New York, Bronx Museum of the Arts & Mexico City, Museo Rufino Tamayo, El Taller Torres-García: The School of the South and its Legacy, 1991-93, no. 52, illustrated in color in the catalogue 
New York, Americas Society Art Gallery, José Gurvich: Constructive Imagination, 2005, no. 5, illustrated in color in the catalogue 


This work is in very good condition overall, taking its age into account. The media layer and three-dimensional elements are stable. A few isolated spots of pigment loss are present along each of the extreme edges of the board, and light wear is present at the extreme edges of the board. In the upper left corner edge above the signature, a horizontal area of minor creasing to the board measuring three inches in length is present. Scattered minor circular areas of isolated fine spiderweb craquelure measuring one inch or less in diameter are present in the lower left, lower center and upper center quadrants, and in the upper right corner. Three minor spots of surface discoloration are present: two in the center left quadrant in the torso of the seated figure, and one in the upper center quadrant in the head of the standing figure. A dark partial fingerprint which may or may not be inherent is present in the upper left quadrant, to the right of the bottle. Under ultraviolet light inspection, areas of fluorescence become apparent in the following locations: a thin L-shaped 2-inch band in the upper left corner above the signature, and a horizontal 1-inch band in the lower right corner, at the base of the broom. Two vertical drip accretions measuring one inch in length become apparent in the lower right quadrant, between the legs of the table which holds the bowl. Two faint one-inch diagonal scuffs become apparent in the lower right quadrant, in the innermost leg of the chair.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Born in Lithuania into a Jewish family, José Gurvich arrived in Uruguay in 1932. Leaving behind economic hardship and religious persecution that devastated Eastern Europe during World War II, his family settled in a working-class neighborhood in Montevideo where the young boy demonstrated an early inclination towards drawing. Years later, studying violin in 1943 he met Horacio Torres, who pleaded with his father, Joaquín Torres-García, so that he would accept Gurvich as a student at the newly created “Taller del Sur” (Studio of the South).   The “Taller del Sur,” also known as TTG (Taller Torres-García), was founded on a dual model: medieval craft guilds and modern art schools such as Bauhaus and Black Mountain Collage. Although diametrically opposed to the technological and industrial orientation of the latter, the Taller became the epicenter for a new generation of Uruguayan artists. The workshop, which quickly attained legendary status, had a vocational interdisciplinary nature; it intended to break antiquated models and hierarchies between design, craft and art. A devoted practitioner and ideological member of the Taller, Gurvich bridges the neo-platonic teachings of Universal Constructivism and the broad spectrum of abstract pictorial expressions advanced by European contemporary movements such Art Informel.

Estructura con figuras from 1960 reveals the artist’s penchant for objective experience. Human forms, a glass of wine, a seemingly floating bottle, the ubiquitous clock—iconographical elements connected to the prescripts of the Taller Torres-García—make reference to observational reality. While undeniably Constructivist in spirit, Estructura con figuras also palpates with Kinetic and Op influence. An accomplished example from his mature period, the work reveals a dynamic and undulating composition where sinuous relief elements and straighter geometric areas confront each other; their pictorial space overflowing the perimeter of the canvas.