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In the Montevideo-based weekly Marcha, writer Juan Carlos Somma condemns a series of confused decisions the Uruguayan government made about the preservation and restoration of murals by Joaquín Torres García and members of his workshop at the Martirené pavilion of the Hospital Saint Bois in Montevideo in 1944. Somma warns of the serious deterioration of the murals and calls for their immediate restoration as well as a change of their location.
In 1944, Joaquín Torres García (1874–1949) and a number of artists in the Taller Torres García (TTG) painted murals at the Martiriné pavilion of the Hospital Saint Bois in the Uruguayan capital. Some twenty-eight years later, the gradual deterioration of those murals was cause for concern and alarm. In the weekly Marcha, Juan Carlos Somma condemns the deplorable state of the works before their restoration and change of location, both of which were imminent. He questions the convoluted network of private and public institutions involved in the process and the failure to procure professional art restorers. Somma asserts that the fate of such an important part of the country’s cultural patrimony must be a “shared responsibility.” He questions the failure to consult a UNESCO technical expert in mural art who had been in Uruguay, as well as local technicians recently trained in Mexico, all of whom would have been able to provide counsel. He harshly criticizes the designation of Carlos Giaudrone (b. 1926), a “modest” restorer of easel painting, who was handpicked without any public process. One of Somma’s primary concerns is the total lack of involvement of the Taller de Restauración del Patrimonio Artístico de la Nación, a public institution created in 1965 expressly for the purpose of restoration. Indeed, that lack of involvement cast suspicion on the workings of the state institutions in general. [For further reading, see the following texts by Joaquín Torres García in the ICAA digital archive: “Con respecto a una futura creación literaria” (doc. no. 730292), “Lección 132. El hombre americano y el arte de América” (doc. no. 832022), “Mi opinión sobre la exposición de artistas norteamericanos: contribución” (doc. no. 833512), “Nuestro problema de arte en América: lección VI del ciclo de conferencias dictado en la Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de Montevideo” (doc. no. 731106), “Introducción [en] Universalismo Constructivo” (doc. no. 1242032), “Sentido de lo moderno [en Universalismo Constructivo]” (doc. no. 1242015), “Bases y fundamentos del arte constructivo” (doc. no. 1242058), and “Manifiesto 2, Constructivo 100%” (doc. no. 1250878)].