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    Sale 1907

    Latin American Sale Evening Session

    19 - 20 November 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 20

    Joaquin Torres Garcia (Uruguayan 1874-1949)

    Estructura con formas trabadas

    Price Realised  


    Joaquin Torres Garcia (Uruguayan 1874-1949)
    Estructura con formas trabadas
    signed 'J. Torres-Garcia (lower left) and dated '33' (lower right center)
    tempera on panel
    29½ x 20½ in. (75 x 52 cm.)
    Painted in 1933.

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    We are grateful to Mrs. Cecilia de Torres for her assistance in confirming the authenticity of this work; to be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist under archive number P 1933.03.

    By the summer of 1932, the world economic crisis was hitting France hard; in the midst of the depression galleries in Paris were closing, and Torres-García was unable to sell any work. The scheduled fall exhibition at Galerie Jeanne Bucher of his new paintings, objects plastiques, and toys was cancelled as Mme. Bucher was forced to close her gallery.(1) For Torres-García having to leave Paris in order to survive was heartbreaking, he was 59, again having to face beginning all over in a new place. Madrid, where the new Republican government had just taken power, appeared to him then as the only bright spot in Europe. Torres-García and his family moved there in December of 1932.
    In Madrid, Torres-García often visited the National Archeological Museum where he was particularly interested in the Prehistoric, Iberian and Pre-Columbian objects.(2) Inspired by Tihuanacu textiles and Nazca ceramics (a visual language he had been incorporating to his paintings since 1929),(3) Torres-García worked on a new development in the underlying structure of his paintings. Estructura con formas trabadas, 1933, is a stunning example of this new phase, featuring a structure drawn by an uninterrupted, all-over meandering line that constantly changes from rhythmic curves to serrated angles. The canvas is filled by an unusual bright color counterpoint of primary red, blue, white, and black, coupled with rich browns and yellow ochre. Here Torres-García momentarily abandoned the symbols within a structure, an achievement that only the year before he had fully conquered. Such an abrupt shift in his art reveals his intense and fearless search.

    Estructura con formas trabadas is important, for while the scalloped and jagged motifs are manifestly culled from Nazca ceramics, it presents an altogether new aspect for abstract art in how it relates to neo-plastic painting and at the same time encompasses and acknowledges the relevance and continuity of an ancient culture. Torres-García was contradicting his own statement that an artist's work must reflect the traditions of his surrounding environment. He was perhaps anticipating his imminent departure for South America, because in his autobiography he wrote that his stay in Madrid had been "one of the unhappiest periods of his life." His connecting with the Amerindian culture in the midst of a European city indicates that in his isolation he was already working on his vision of a new and powerful modern art for the Americas. In April of 1934 he sailed from Cadiz to Montevideo where he again began all over, but for the last time. He died fifteen years later, never returning to Europe.

    (c) Cecilia de Torres, 2007.

    1) The gallery was closed for nearly a year. Jeanne Bucher, une galerie d'avant garde, 1925-1946. Les Musies de la Ville Strasbourg, 1994.
    2) The 1925 catalogue of Madrid's Archeological Museum Collection of Peruvian vases and textiles is in Torres-García's library in Montevideo.
    3) C. De Torres, Pilgrimage to the Sources of Amerindian Art, "Abstraction - The Amerindian Paradigm", Catalogues: Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels 2001; IVAM, Valencia, 2001-2002.

    Special Notice

    On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.


    Estate of the artist No. 596.
    Horacio Torres, Montevideo.
    Rose Fried Gallery, New York.
    The Estate of Royal S. Marks, London.
    Sotheby's, New York, Twenty Works by Joaquin Torres-García from the Estate of Royal S. Marks, 20 November 1989, lot 3 (illustrated in color).

    Pre-Lot Text



    Exhibition catalogue, IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, 1991, p. 128, no. 84 (illustrated).
    Exhibition catalogue, Torres-García: Grid- Pattern- Sign, Paris- Monetevideo 1924-1944, Hayward Gallery, London, p. 68, no. 73 (illustrated).
    Exhibition catalogue, Abstract Art from the Río de la Plata, Buenos Aires Montevideo 1933-1953, 2001, p. 102, no. 12.
    L. Driben, El Cono Sur en México, Artes Plásticas, Letras Libres, Mexico, p. 94 (illustrated).


    London, Hayward Gallery, Torres-Garcia: Grid-Pattern-Sign, Paris-Montevideo, 1924-1944, organized by the American Federation of the Arts, November 1985 - April 1987. This exhibition later traveled to Barcelona, Fundación Joan Miró; Düsseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle.
    Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Torres-García, June- August 1991.
    Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio González, September- November 1991, no. 84.
    New York, Americas Society, Abstract Art from the Río de la Plata, Buenos Aires Montevideo 1933-1953, September-January 2001, no. 12.