Joaquín Torres-García: the Arcadian Modern

Joaquín Torres-García. Construction in White and Black. 1938 61300

Glue tempera on cardboard mounted on wood, 31 3/4 x 40 1/8" (80.7 x 102 cm). Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in honor of David Rockefeller

Narrator: Construction in White and Black presents a black-and-white series of rectangular forms without Torres-García’s characteristic pictograms.

Luis Perez-Oramaz: What seems to me striking is the fact that there is the extreme modern simplicity of the grid embodying the gravitas of an ancient architecture.

Narrator: Torres-García completed a number of these black-and-white works around 1938.

Luis Perez-Oramaz: Their schematic way to avoid color makes them definitely relate to a rational approach to abstraction, but they include this variations in shadows, which makes them . . . atmospheric, which makes them as objects under the sun in reality.

Narrator: These works in particular recall Torres-García’s interest in the ancient Inca stonework of Cuzco or Machu Picchu.

Luis Perez-Oramaz: I think these paintings really embody both things: the absolute, unreachable origin of ancient times, but also as representation of the modern grid of the modern abstractions that he had dealt with in Paris in the 1920s.

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