Born in Uruguay, in 1891 Joaquín Torres-García moved with his family to his parents’ birthplace of Mataró.Self-taught at first, he began attending the School of Arts and Crafts. When, in 1892, the family moved to Barcelona, Torres-García entered the Llotja art and design school, along with Mir, Sunyer and Nonell, among others, where he was influenced by French Impressionism. The following year, he joined the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc arts society.
Starting in 1894, he took part in the General Exhibitions of Fine Arts, in the foreign category. Soon he began working on illustrations for books and designing posters, forging friendships with important artists in Barcelona at the time such as Manolo Hugué, Pichot, Sebastià Junyent, the Sunyer brothers and Picasso.
In 1901, he began painting frescoes, participating in a group work environment that included painters, musicians, sculptors and poets. He stated his idealist conception of art in the article “Augusta et Augusta”, in 1903. He worked with Gaudí on the Sagrada Familia and also on the restoration of the cathedral in Palma de Mallorca. In 1904, he received his first mural decoration commissions for the Parish of Saint Augustine in Barcelona and the Church of the Divina Pastora in Sarrià.In 1905, his work evolved towards Planismo, in line with artists such as Puvis de Chavannes. In 1907, he began teaching at the school Mont d’Or in Barcelona and Tarrasa.
As part of the group of Catalan intellectuals led by Eugenio d’Ors, in 1911, with the help of d’Ors and other Noucentisme writers and artists, he was commissioned to to carry out part of the decoration of the Palace of the Generalitat, for which he created stained glass windows and murals depicting a mythic Arcadia with classical figures, which have disappeared. During this period, he defended the Noucentisme in articles such as “Notes Sobre Art” (1913) and “Diàlegs” (1915).
Starting in 1915, his work began to reveal the influence of the avant-garde, while at the same time he came into contact with the painters Barradas and Robert Delaunay. Around 1920, he left for New York, with a stop in Paris, after the small toy plant he founded in 1918 had failed. Although his time in New York was very interesting, due to lack of income, Torres-García moved to Italy, where he entered the toy business again. In 1926, he went to Paris. There he met Theo van Doesburg, with whom he began an extensive collaboration. He also participated in the founding of the group Cercle et Carré.
In 1932, back in Spain, he settled in Madrid, before moving to Montevideo, where in 1933 he founded the Asociación de Arte Constructivo (Constructive Art Association) and, from 1936 to 1943, published the magazine Círculo y Cuadrado. In 1944, he opened the Taller Torres García to instruct young artists in Constructivist ideas and techniques.That same year, he published Universal Constructivism, his most significant theoretical work.
Noemi de Haro