The Art Newspaper – Acquavella Galleries’ exhibition of the Uruguay-born Modernist is a primer for the uninitiated and a treasury of rarely seen gems.
Two comments stand out in the Modernist artist Joaquín Torres-García’s 1922 illuminated diary Dessins (Drawings). “One thing that I know,” he discloses in handwritten French, “is an ethnographic museum interests me more than a museum of painting.” Then: “The man of cathedrals has passed, man today constructs machines.” More than a decade later, after a late-career return to his natal Montevideo, Uruguay, Torres-García fully combined these two ideas—the mythic in ethnography and the rational in the machine—in his theory of “universalismo constructivo” (constructive universalism or universal constructivism), which he spread after his 1934 arrival with lectures, publications, radio broadcasts, and an artistic circle and workshop. Out of this theory, he (and his followers) produced drawings, paintings and sculptures partitioned by a mathematically derived—but not quite rationalist—architectonic grid, often arrayed with language and iconography that referred to Mesoamerican cosmology. – read more