The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
By means of an overview of modern art and its development, Joaquín Torres García lays out his Constructivist theory as the culmination (or convergence) of various strains of Western art. In his view, the moral value of the artist’s position lies in aesthetic choices of a philosophical and mystical nature entirely unfettered by market variables.
While Joaquín Torres García (JTG) accepts the attitude of Uruguayan artists studying in Europe on fellowship at the beginning of the 20th century—artists who heeded modern ideas that they then applied in personal style to the local reality—he adamantly criticizes the “mediocrity” of the figures chosen as points of reference (such as painters André Lhote and André Dunoyer de Segonzac, and sculptors Antoine Bourdelle and Charles Despiau). It is here that his notion of “quality” in art seems bound to a morality that establishes “difference in value”—an axiological question that, in JTG’s view, was well beyond the grasp of provincial artists from Montevideo who had not yet captured the value of “Structure” in art or of its “concrete visual value.” In that sense, Constructivist Art would be the modern version of “true art” at a time when the Renaissance notion of painting was dwindling or even dying. The divide between painting and Constructivism would be a recurring point in the discourse of JTG during the thirties. JTG reaffirms here the idea that the artist has a moral obligation to assume a mystical position. Making “concrete art” means “being in the spirit”; indeed, “[one must] remain steadfast in the spirit and abstain from the physical order.” He adds a phrase from Christology, which seems at times to be the basis for his Constructivist faith: “The symbolic idea of Christ is the conversion of man into the spirit forever more.” The moral question, then, would reside in the extent to which the artist bears “spiritual” witness. [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)].