Black and White Structure

Joaquín Torres García

Estructura en Blanco y Negro

Torres García, Joaquín

Montevideo, 1874 - 1949

Black and White Structure, 1930

© Sucesión Joaquín Torres García, Montevideo, 2015

Signed & dated on reverse: ''Torres-GARCÍA/ 30''.
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

Painted wood

48,9 x 35,6 x 8 cm


Artwork history

  • Olimpia Torres (daughter of the artist)

  • Royal, S. Marks, New York

  • Sotheby’s Auctions, New York, lot 10,  November 23, 1992

  • Gmurzynska Gallery, Colonia

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection


Qu'est-ce que la sculpture moderne, París, Centre Pompidou - Musée national d'Art Moderne, n. 98

1999 - 2000

Del impresionismo a la vanguardia en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Barcelona, Centre Cultural Caixa Catalunya, p. 194


Del post-impresionismo a las vanguardias. Pintura de comienzos del siglo XX en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio González, n. 54, p. 174

2000 - 2001

Heterotopías. Medio siglo sin lugar: 1918-1968, Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, p. 285


París. Capital of the Arts. 1900-1968 / París. Capital de las artes, 1900-1968, Londres, Royal Academy of Arts; Bilbao, Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, n. 85, p. 163

2009 - 2010

Joaquín Torres-García. Constructing Abstraction with Wood, Houston, The Menil Collection; San Diego, San Diego Museum of Art, n. 53, pp. 77 y 228


América fría. La abstracción geométrica en Latinoamérica (1934-1973), Madrid, Fundación Juan March, n. 1, p. 80, lám.

2015 - 2017

Joaquin Torres-García. The Arcadian Modern.The Museum of Modern Art, New York (October 25, 2015-February 15, 2016), Espacio Fundación Teléfonica, Madrid (May 19-September 11, 2016) & Museo Picasso, Málaga (October 10, 2016-February 5, 2017). Cat. 124, pp. 138.

  • -Sotheby’s (aut. corp.): Nineteen Works by Joaquín Torres-García from the Estate of Royal S. Marks. [Auction Cat.]. New York, November 23, 1992, n. 10, lám.

  • -Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 2, p. 308, lám. p. 309 [Sheet by Tomàs Llorens]

  • -Ramírez, Mari Carmen: “Against the Grain”.  Houston / San Diego 2009-2010, pp. 9-12, cit. p. 11.

  • -Ramírez, Mari Carmen: “A Constructed Precariousness. Abstraction Against the Grain”. Houston / San Diego 2009-2010, pp. 32-49, cit. p. 43.

  • -Joaquín Torres-García. Constructing Abstraction with Wood. Ramírez, Mari Carmen (ed.). [Exhib. Cat. Houston, The Menil Collection – San Diego, San Diego Museum of Art, 2009-2010]. Houston, Menil Foundation, Inc., 2009.

  • -Joaquin Torres-García. The Arcadian Modern.The Museum of Modern Art, New York (October 25, 2015–February 15, 2016), Espacio Fundación Teléfonica, Madrid (May 19-September 11, 2016) & Museo Picasso, Málaga (October 10, 2016-February 5, 2017). Cat. 124, pp. 138. (Exhib. Cat.)

Expert report

Although the chronology of Torres-García’s painted woods ranges from the beginning of the 1920s to the end of the 1930s, over three quarters of the works executed with this technique date from the years of his sojourn in Paris, that is, from 1927 to 1932, a period when the artist underwent an important evolution before attaining his artistic maturity. They are in fact experimental works, which the artist always kept in his possession for his own study.

Black and White Structure belongs to a relatively small group of works made of wood panels on a base (a lath) and to some extent conceived as sculptures or three-dimensional objects, even if only one side is painted, which implies a frontal vision. There are two more wooden constructions dated in 1930 and with similar characteristics to the one we are analysing. One of them has not yet appeared in a publication and the other (entitled Construction with Man and Objects), was shown for the first time in the exhibition Torres-García held in Madrid and Valencia in 1991. Both are monochrome and have symbols inscribed; the second does not have a base lath and for this reason it can be considered to be incomplete. In my opinion, these are studies or preliminary works linked to Black and White Structure. In the three cases there is an asymmetrical form built with vertical rectangular blocks placed on a horizontal base, recalling an architectural construction.

Although Black and White Structure slightly resembles the Manhattan cityscapes that the artist drew or painted during his first stay in New York in the early 1920s, the combination of asymmetry and stability which characterises it constitutes an important aesthetic discovery, which we will find again in later works; works which illustrate the notion of monumentality, one of the key concepts in Torres-García’s poetics. Among them we should mention Object with Number 1, 1932 (included in the aforementioned Madrid and Valencia exhibitions as no. 67 in the catalogue),Black and White Shapes, of that same year (included in the exhibition Torres-Garcíaheld in London in 1985, catalogue no. 65), and Wooden composition, 1931-1934, one of the most famous wooden constructions of this artist, at present belonging to the IVAM collection.

Tomàs Llorens