Mathias Goeritz (Danzig, 1915 – Mexico City, 1990) is one of the standout – if one of the most ignored – artists from the second half of the 20th century. His wanderings determined the route of his life, shaped by his travels through Europe and Latin America, with stints in Germany, North Africa, Spain and finally Mexico, where he would invent a unique synthesis between rationalism and sentiment, halfway between the modern present and timeless atavism. This art project, representative of the emergence of artistic utopias in post-war Latin America, renewed the habitual account of modernity from the 1950s onwards – simplifying the bipolar Cold War tension – and introduced new latitudes, lexicons and roles in art.
The exhibition reflects and reveals the breadth and originality of Mathias Goeritz in mediums as diverse as painting, sculpture and architecture. With the recurring motif of the serpent, which lends its name to show, there is an exploration of the notion of “emotional architecture”, formulated by the artist in 1954 for the purposes of his Museo Experimental El Eco. This definition alludes to an experimental form of construction and activation of architecture in an emotional blueprint, appealing to the emotions of the viewer and reacting to the utilitarian rigours of predominant functionalism. “Emotional architecture” recovered the idea of the total artwork and heralded the start of empathy in post-war abstraction. In addition to presenting the exhibition, this lecture aims to rediscover the figure of Mathias Goeritz.
Francisco Reyes Palma is an art historian, critic and researcher at the Centro Nacional de Investigación Documentación e Información de Artes Plásticas del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mexico, and founding member and chairman of CURARE: Espacio Crítico para las Artes. He is the author of Mathias Goeritz (La Caja Negra Ediciones, 2011) and the essays Otras modernidades, otros modernismos, Exilios y descentramientos and Trasterrados, migrantes y guerra fría en la disolución de una escuela nacional de pintura, included in Hacia otra historia del Arte en México (Conaculta, 2002 and 2004; vols. III and IV), among numerous other works.