Lot 45
  • 45

Joaquín Torres-García

800,000 - 1,000,000 USD
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  • Joaquín Torres-García
  • Constructivo en blanco y negro con pez (Construction in White and Black with Fish) 
  • Signed JTG and dated 31 (lower left) 
  • Oil on wood
  • 27 7/8 by 14 3/8 in.
  • 70.8 by 36.5 cm


Horacio Torres, Montevideo (acquired from the Estate of the artist)

André Emmerich Gallery, New York (acquired from the Estate of the above) 

Royal S. Marks, New York (acquired from the above and sold by his Estate: Sotheby's, New York, Nineteen Works by Joaquín Torres-García, from the Estate of Royal S. Marks, November 23, 1992, lot 4) 

Acquired at the above sale 


Montevideo, Museo Torres-García, Joaquín Torres-García 28 VII-1874 – 8 VIII- 1949, 1962, no. 15, illustrated in color on the cover of the catalogue

New York, André Emmerich Gallery, 18 Works by Joaquín Torres-García, 1971

Pontevedra, Museo de Pontevedra,  J.Torres-García, obra constructiva, 1996, no. 7, illustrated in color in the catalogue 

Lisbon, Fundação Arpad Szenes–Vieira da Silva, Torres-García, obra constructivista, 1996, no. 5, illustrated in color in the catalogue 

Biarritz, Espace Bellevue, Passion et raison d’un esprit constructif: Une Conquête de l’art d’Amérique Latine, Oeuvres de la Fundación Daniela Chappard, 2006, no. 32, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Madrid, Fundación Carlos de Amberes & Madrid, Sala Espacio Dos del Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Explorando el sur: el universalismo constructivo y otras tendencias en america latina, 2008, p. 6, illustrated in color in the catalogue 

Houston, The Menil Collection & San Diego, San Diego Museum of Art, Joaquín Torres-García: Constructing Abstraction with Wood, 2009-10, no. 62, illustrated in color in the catalogue 

New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Madrid, Fundación Telefónica & Málaga, Museo Picasso, Joaquín Torres-García: The Arcadian Modern, 2015-16, p. 124, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Enric Jardí, Joaquín Torres-García, Barcelona, 1973, no. 229, illustrated in color p. 172

Edward Sullivan, "Erasing Borders" in Art in America, September 2012, illustrated in color p. 50 

This work is included in the Joaquín Torres-Garcia Online Catalogue Raisonné (www.torresgarcia.com) as no. 1931.85.

Catalogue Note

As this century ushered in a re-examination of the artists and movements in Western Art History, recent monographic exhibitions such as: Joaquín Torres-García: Constructing Abstraction with Wood at The Menil Collection, Houston and Torres-García: The Arcadian Modern retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art reinforced Joaquín Torres-García’s importance as a modern innovator, recognition as the father figure of Modern Latin American Art, and most importantly, seminal in the creation of a post-Cubist language. Already in a review of the 1931 Salon des Surindépendents, in Paris’ Porte de Versailles, where Torres-García presented works similar to Constructivo en blanco y negro con pez, the writer signaled him as the first promoter of “a new tendency” that he described as “a kind of constructivism in compartments, which consists of dividing the canvas surface into boxes according to an extremely sensitive geometric graphic rhythm that brought to mind the first cubist constructions.”

The elegant structure that divides the picture plane and the lineal symbolic figures as exemplified in Constructivo en blanco y negro con pez, executed in 1931, although thoroughly modern, has a timeless, classical spirit. It is a prime example of the new style that the French art critic identified. The universal man is a symbol for human kind; the key, a symbol for reason; the heart, for emotion; the clock, for time; the fish, life; the ascending ladder, the spirit; a vase, art; and the mask, for primitive art.

Torres-García was an artist whose life and work were connected to diverse and important movements in twentieth century European as well as North and South American Modern Art. Although born in Montevideo, his artistic education took place in the Spanish academy in Barcelona, where among his classmates, were Pablo Picasso and Julio González. Torres-García’s multiple roles as teacher and theoretician; his involvement with toy design; his early sojourn in New York from 1920 to 1922 where he sought the modern urban spirit; his years in Paris from 1926 to 1932 where he co-founded Cercle et Carré, were crucial to the development of Universal Constructivism: a concept that encompassed rational structure, emotion, and symbolic references to the world of nature. His later creation of the unique art workshop, the “Taller Torres-García,” and his validation of Indoamerican Art, make Torres-García one of the most complex and interesting modern artists.

Museum quality works by Torres-García rarely come up for auction. This is due, in part, to the seventy constructive paintings and works of wood that were lost in the 1978 fire that destroyed the Rio de Janeiro Museum of Modern Art, and also because his work is already in most major museums across Europe and the Americas. Recent purchases by the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, confirm the artist’s status as one of the major modern masters. 

Cecilia de Torres
March, 2018