Collection 1880s–1940s


Circle and Square, Joaquin Torres-Garcia and Piet Mondrian



Joaquín Torres-García. Composition. 1931. Oil on canvas, 36 1/8 x 24" (91.7 x 61 cm), Gift of Larry Aldrich. Photo: Thomas Griesel
  • MoMA, Floor 5, 512 The David Geffen Wing

Joaquín Torres-García and Piet Mondrian met in Paris in 1929 and, together with the Belgian artist and writer Michel Seuphor, founded the group Cercle et Carré (Circle and Square). More than eighty artists from Europe and the Americas working in abstraction came together in this coalition. They advocated a geometric, analytical approach to art making, which they conceived in opposition to Surrealism’s focus on the unconscious and irrational. Key was the notion of “construction,” or logically building a work of art based on, in Torres-García’s formulation, “the search for equilibrium, for unity, equivalent relationships between forms, planes, colors, between the simple elements that compose the work of art.”

Cercle et Carré edited a magazine of the same name and held one exhibition before it disbanded in 1930. The notion of construction versus the irrational proved important for a generation of artists in South America during the following decades.

Organized by Beverly Adams, Estrellita Brodsky Curator of Latin American Art, with Lydia Mullin, Curatorial Assistant, and Charlotte Barat, former Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture.

17 works online


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