Joaquín Torres-García: The Arcadian Modern

*Estructura a cinco tonos con dos formas intercaladas (Structure in five tones with two interspersed forms)*

Joaquín Torres-García. Estructura a cinco tonos con dos formas intercaladas (Structure in five tones with two interspersed forms). 1948

Joaquín Torres-García. Estructura a cinco tonos con dos formas intercaladas (Structure in five tones with two interspersed forms). 1948. Oil on cardboard, 19 11/16 × 20 1/2″ (50 × 52 cm). Private collection. Courtesy Galería Sur, Montevideo. © Sucesión Joaquín Torres-García, Montevideo 2015. Photo: Eduardo Baldizan

Narrator: Torres-García completed Structure in Five Tones with Two Interspersed Forms in 1948. Figures with Doves is the last painting he completed before his death in 1949.

Karen Grimson: These two works signal the artist’s most personal contribution to the discussions around abstraction around the mid-20th century.

We can see in these paintings that he's playing with two possible options for arranging the same formal elements within a visual field and coming up with two different solutions. With a structural organization, he can either come up with something that is abstract or something that is concrete. We can see a scene of maternity in Arcadia in the work_ Figuras con palomas_. We can see the shape of the mother’s arm and the baby’s arm reiterated in the other painting in the two white shapes.

So with these two paintings, Torres-García synthesizes two different and opposite parameters in which art was being thought of in the time, indicating that abstraction can, at the same time, be figurative.

Narrator: Torres-García’s significance lies in his ability to negotiate the contradictions of the abstract and figurative, the timeless and contemporary, to create a unique form of art.

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