Up to the present day, the relationship between Picasso and Joaquín Torres-García (Montevideo, 1874-1949) has not been subject to an in-depth analysis. The few references to the contacts between the two artists which appear in some studies are usually mainly based on the autobiographical account that Torres García published in 1939, after a long period of wanderings which took him from his birthplace Montevideo to Catalonia, his father’s country of origin, and then in New York, Fiesole, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Paris and Madrid, returning finally to Uruguay in 1934.
In his autobiography, Torres-García mentions his first contact with the young Picasso in the cultural setting of turn-of-the-century Barcelona, and also his later – failed – attempt (in 1920, just before he moved to New York) to get the painter from Malaga to intercede to help him find his way into the Paris art market. As Torres-García himself admitted, this latter event would substantially mark his subsequent relationship with Picasso.
However, the sources we consulted for carrying out our doctoral thesis, entitled Joaquín Torres-García and Constructive Universalism: the fundamental meaning of art, led to our realisation that Torres García was building a “split image” of Picasso, establishing a clear differentiation between his worth as “a man” and his merit as “a painter”.
The presentation we are putting forward delves into the relationship between Picasso and Torres-García, into how the relationship evolved over time and in space, at both the personal and the artistic levels.
Among the issues we hope to cover, we are aiming to explore the subject of Torres-García’s recognition of the plastic works by Picasso by analysing several written sources which specialists have quite often ignored. Some of these sources enable us to demonstrate, for example, that on several occasions, the Uruguayan acknowledged the extraordinary artistic qualities of the painter from Malaga, as well as his fundamental contribution to the development of modern art.
We also aim to set up a dialogue between the plastic works of Picasso and Torres-García, and propose a comparison which is based on a selection of works by the two artists from various times in their creative careers, in order to highlight any connections there may be.