Joaquín Torres García, seen in the self-portrait above, was born in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, in 1874. At the age of 17 he moved to Barcelona, Spain, for art training. He also lived in Italy and New York before settling in Paris. In 1934 he returned to Uruguay and remained there until he died. While living in 4 places he met and learned a lot about other artists, but he developed his own distinctive style. He gave more than 500 lectures on art and wrote books when he returned home. Like other highly regarded Uruguayans, I had never heard of him. Now I’m a fan.
He was fascinated by the dynamic reality of cities and portrayed them often in his art. Some of his cityscapes were cleverly 3-dimensional like his toys.
As a traveling young drawing teacher and father, he began to create what he called transformable toys. They are quite charming. Models of them were both on display in the museum and for sale in the gift shop. They are indeed transformable because a child can easily pull them apart and reassemble them. When living in New York, he trademarked his toys under the name Aladdin.
He did a series of witty reproductions of already famous portraits of well-known humans like Columbus and da Vinci. Many of them are on display in this museum. Below is his cleverly distorted version of the artist El Greco.
Because it was New Year’s Eve when we visited it, the Museo Torres García was one of only 2 attractions opened in Montevideo. It turned out to be a 5 Compass experience. Our guide-book said it was free, but Ruth and I had to pay to get in. It was a modest amount, well worth it, and exactly twice what Uruguyans paid. Locals told me that he was the best Uruguayan artist and I agreed with them. His family created this museum in his honor.