“A painting should be something that begins and ends in itself,” Rhod Rothfuss wrote. With this cut-out frame, the artist put his principle into practice: in Yellow Quadrangle (Cuadrilongo Amarillo, 1955) the slender yellow rectangle on the left juts out, and the support takes on the shape of the painting itself . While his work was indebted to that of Joaquin Torres-Garcia and to European abstract artists such as Mondrian, Tothfuss was also influenced by vernacular practices. The alkyd resin present in this work was also used by the artist to create floats for carnival parades in his native Montevideo.
Made at height of the heated discussions on abstraction that took place around the artists’ group Cercle et Carré (Circle and Square), which Torres–Garcia co-founded, Estructura En Color (Color Structure), 1930 is remarkable for the way it simultaneously corresponds to and since is it self from “pure” abstraction as it was conceived at the time. The structural grid of horizontal and vertical lines Torres-Garcia employs is similar to the compositional mode often practiced by Neo-Plasticists such his Piet Mondrian, but it is not nearly as “rational” as it is in contemporaneous work by Torres-Garcia’s younger peers. By multiplying the grid’s rectangles Torres-Garcia made a work that instead relates more closely to the stained-glass windows he designed early in his career while working at the Sagrada Familia church under architect Antoni Gaudi. Likewise, although blue, red, yellow, and white are signature colors of abstraction in the style of Mondrian, Torres-Garcia’s versions are voluntarily darker, earthier, and more somber. With these variations in color and form, his work boldly breaks away from the orthodoxy of modern abstraction.
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.