The brief public controversy between these two personalities of the Uruguayan art world began with the article by Herrera in the newspaper El Día, October 13th, 1944. [Please refer to the ICAA digital archive for this text: “El Salón visto por dentro. El Gran Premio a Torres García” (1228483)]. It continued with the response that Joaquín Torres García published, October 21st of that year in the weekly magazine Marcha [Please refer to the ICAA digital archive for this text: “El problema de la decoración mural. Contestando al Arquitecto señor Herrera Mac Lean” (1228503) and ended with another article written by Herrera: “La aparición de un tercer Torres García” (1228522)]).
Carlos Herrera Mac Lean, was an architect and classmate of the son of the artist Pedro Figari (Uruguay, 1861–1938) who ardently defended the work done at theEscuela de Artes e Industrias by Figari (1915–17) from the Círculo de Bellas Artes. He was an unconditional admirer of Figari’s work during the Uruguayan’s artistic trajectory in Paris and later became the organizer and curator of the great posthumous retrospective of Figari in 1944. That same year, Joaquín Torres García, published his book Universalismo Constructivo where he had established the basis of his artistic vision. Some of the intellectuals of the Uruguayan artistic medium, as was the case of Herrera Mac Lean, rejected the innovations of the visual arts imparted by the TTG (Taller Torres García [Torres García Worhshop]) and from that perspective they developed a generalized critique of the European avant-garde movements claiming a nationalist and traditionalist posture opposed to the universalist pretensions of both constructive art and abstract art in general.
This article is, in fact, a vindication by the architect regarding his nationalist and traditionalist postures regarding art, therefore, he was prone to defend the opportunities of artists who he considered were representative of a national cultural tradition, a perspective contrary to the universalistic claims of constructive art and abstract art in general.
[Please refer to the ICAA digital archive for the following texts written by Joaquín Torres García: “Con respecto a una futura creación literaria” (730292), “Lección 132. El hombre americano y el arte de América” (832022), “Mi opinión sobre la exposición de artistas norteamericanos: contribución” (833512), “Nuestro problema de arte en América: lección VI del ciclo de conferencias dictado en la Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de Montevideo” (731106), “Introducción [en] Universalismo Constructivo” (1242032), “Sentido de lo moderno [en Universalismo Constructivo]” (1242015), “Bases y fundamentos del arte constructivo” (1242058) and “Manifiesto 2, Constructivo 100%” (1250878)].