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First Major U.S. Exhibition in Nearly 40 Years on Joaquín Torres-García
Joaquín Torres-García, Construcción (Construction), 1935. Oil on wood. Dimensions cm 43.5 x 19.7 x 6.9. Dimensions in 17-1/8 x 7-3/4 x 2-5/8. IVAM, Institut Valencià d’Art Modern Generalitat, Spain.

SAN DIEGO, CA.- The groundbreaking exhibition Joaquín Torres-García: Constructing Abstraction with Wood on view at The San Diego Museum of Art February 20 through May 20, 2010 explores the work of one of the most influential artists to have emerged from Latin America.

A charismatic figure in the international art world, Joaquín Torres-García is celebrated globally as a modernist painter, teacher and author. He has exhibited with the most famous artists of his time including Antonio Gaudí, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Theo van Doesburg and Marcel Duchamp.

The San Diego Museum of Art is the exclusive West Coast venue—and only one of two U.S. museums—for this exhibition, which was organized by The Menil Collection, Houston in association with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Joaquín Torres-García: Constructing Abstraction with Wood will include more than 80 wooden constructions, or maderas, largely dating from the 1920s to 1940s. The exhibition is the first to offer North American audiences an exploration of these innovative three-dimensional works, which include small-scale boxes, abstract male and female figures, masks and assemblages. A small selection of Torres-García’s oil paintings and drawings will accompany the exhibition demonstrating the connections between his experiments in two- and three-dimensional forms.

The maderas functioned for Torres-García as a form through which he synthesized a number of ideas encompassing geometric and constructive trends, leading to the development of his own distinctive form of abstraction.

“We are thrilled to present a major exhibition focusing on the work of Joaquín Torres-García as part of our celebration of A Year of Modern Art,” states Dr. Julia Marciari-Alexander, deputy director for curatorial affairs at The San Diego Museum of Art. “Torres-García’s unique innovations in the medium of wood foreshadow later artistic developments in Europe and the Americas by 20th century artists such as Ben Nicholson and Louise Nevelson.”

Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Torres-García spent most of his life in Spain, Italy, France and New York before returning in 1934 to Montevideo. There, he founded the Taller Torres-García, a workshop school that promoted avant-garde experimentation influencing an entire generation of South American and international artists.

Coming to The San Diego Museum of Art following its debut at the Menil Collection, Joaquín Torres-García: Constructing Abstraction with Wood is curated by Mari Carmen Ramírez, the Wortham Curator of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, in collaboration with Menil director Josef Helfenstein. This exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue (Yale University Press) featuring essays by Mari Carmen Ramírez, Cecilia de Torres, and Margit Rowell, as well as a chronology and newly translated texts by Joaquín Torres-García.

Joaquín Torres-García: Constructing Abstraction with Wood is organized by the Menil Collection, Houston in association with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The exhibition is generously supported by Meredith and Cornelia Long, Sysco Corporation, Beth and Rick Schnieders, Mike and Diane Cannon, Olive M. Jenney, National Endowment for the Arts, Bruce T. Halle Family Foundation, Clare Casademont and Micheal Metz, Mary and Roy Cullen, William J. Hill, W.S. Bellows Construction Corporation, Nina and Michael Zilkha, The Wortham Foundation, Houston Endowment Inc., Fayez Sarofim, Sterling-Turner Foundation, and the City of Houston.

The San Diego Museum of Art | Joaquín Torres-García | Dr. Julia Marciari-Alexander |

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