The Art of Joaquín Torres-García: Constructive Universalism and the Inversion of Abstraction, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

The Art of Joaquín Torres-García

Constructive Universalism and the Inversion of Abstraction, 1st Edition

By Aarnoud Rommens


192 pages | 44 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781472471437
pub: 2016-08-17
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315527574
pub: 2016-08-05
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Intertwining art history, aesthetic theory, and Latin American studies, Aarnoud Rommens challenges contemporary Eurocentric revisions of the history of abstraction through this study of the Uruguayan artist Joaquín Torres-García. After studying and painting (for decades) in Europe, Torres-García returned in 1934 to his native home, Montevideo, with the dream of reawakening and revitalizing what he considered the true indigenous essence of Latin American art: "Abstract Spirit." Rommens rigorously analyses the paradoxes of the painter's aesthetic-philosophical doctrine of Constructive Universalism as it sought to adapt European geometric abstraction to the Americas. Whereas previous scholarship has dismissed Torres-García's theories as self-contradictory, Rommens seeks to recover their creative potential as well as their role in tracing the transatlantic routes of the avant-garde. Through the highly original method of reading Torres-García's artworks as a critique on the artist's own writings, Rommens reveals how Torres-García appropriates the colonial language of primitivism to construct the artificial image of "pure" pre-Columbian abstraction. Torres-García thereby inverts the history of art: this book teases out the important lessons of this gesture and the implications for our understanding of abstraction today.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Routes to Roots of Joaquín Torres-García’s South American Abstraction

2. Constructive Universalism’s ‘Theoretical Eye’: Vitalism, Arkhétectonics and Grafismo

3. Tactics of A-Semiosis

4. Writing/Drawing the Universal by Hand: Abstraction’s Unruliness

5. Emblematics, "The School of the South" and the Inversion of Maps

6. Thick Grids and the Scrapbooking of the Universal

Conclusion: Reverting South

About the Author

Aarnoud Rommens is BeIPD-COFUND/Marie Curie Post-Doctoral Fellow at Faculté de Philosophie et Lettres, University of Liège, Belgium.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / General
ART / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945)
ART / Individual Artists / General
ART / Caribbean & Latin American
HISTORY / Latin America / General
HISTORY / Latin America / South America
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Colonialism & Post-Colonialism