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In this letter, Joaquín Torres García declares his intention to promote contemporary Uruguayan art to European audiences. The objective is to create a program designed to provide scholarships or grants from the Uruguayan government for young artists who would attend JTG’s workshops. He thus fulfills his goal of doing something for his country and starts teaching again, as he had done in the very early twentieth century, during his long sojourn in Catalonia. Over time, his focus on education became a true mystical ministry, a group “communion” based on his teachings on the subject of constructive art.


This letter documents the epistolary friendship that blossomed between the painter Joaquín Torres García (1874–1949) and the writer José Enrique Rodó (1871–1917). JTG’s wish to be involved in contemporary Uruguayan art—and support it from his well-respected position among Catalonian intellectuals—is applauded by Rodó. The latter, in turn, suggests promoting his compatriot’s work in Montevideo, which is why JTG sends him articles from the Spanish press and photographs of his paintings. The two intellectuals agree on the importance of education and an art teaching style inspired by an aesthetic sensibility. They also agree that, if Europeans were to be exposed to Uruguayan art (which could thus reclaim its spiritual values amid the onslaught of functionalist “utilitarianism” currently in vogue), certain basic principles were in order: to live up to the standards of Greek and Latin culture; to practice art as a mental activity; and to enrich what they both considered to be everlasting humanist values. As the first decade of the twentieth century came to an end, JTG joined the emerging Catalonian movement that went by the name of “noucentisme.” It was a nineteenth-century group led by the writer Eugeni d’Ors—whose pseudonym was “Xènius” (1881–1954)—who said that Catalonian culture should celebrate the new century by re-embracing the classical, humanist tradition of its Mediterranean heritage and, in so doing, reclaim the forms and ideas that were used in antiquity.        


[As complementary reading, see the following articles in the ICAA digital archive written by Joaquín Torres García: “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)].

Marina Garcia, Gabriel Peluffo
Archivo Biblioteca Nacional