Primitivising the mural either side of the Atlantic: discourse and contingency in Joaquín Torres-García's murals

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The age-old practice of mural painting had historically been a slow, labour-intensive art form, subject to the whims of patronage and intended as a permanent fixture of buildings. How could it hold its relevance in the fast-paced era of the machine, where critical discourse reified artistic freedom, a market economy favoured the portable, commodifiable easel painting, and architectural thinking preferred its walls bare? Exploring this issue requires tracing the associations that were established between mural painting and various historical periods – from Mediterranean antiquity to pre-Hispanic America and medieval and Renaissance Europe – and considering how these associations were used by artists to renew and legitimise its practice in the twentieth century. This chapter discusses the primitivist traits that can be found in Joaquín Torres-García's mural theory and oeuvre while taking into consideration this artist's dual European and Latin American background and practice, and examines the extent to which these were informed by political and ideological factors, including issues of national and regional identity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Primitivist Imaginary in Iberian and Transatlantic Modernisms
EditorsJoana Cunha Leal, Mariana Pinto dos Santos
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherRoutledge | Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781003355519
ISBN (Print)9781032409504, 9781032409528
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2023


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