New Book Explores the Mexican Artist-Designer Whose Medium Was Public Space

Mathias Goeritz: Modernist Art and Architecture in Cold War Mexico contextualizes Goeritz’s art within the cultural and political transformations of Latin America.
Mathias Goeritz artist designer book

Walter Nicks’s dance company El Ballet Negro performs at the Museo Experimental El Eco in Mexico City. Photograph by Marianne Goeritz; Fondo Mathias Goeritz, CENIDAP/INBA.

Religion and emotions are often subject to ridicule in the cynical, postmodern present, but some luminaries from the past century didn’t always abjure them. A new book explores one such character from the world of design: Mathias Goeritz, whose best-known work was produced in Mexico through the late-Modern period. Jennifer Josten, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, has written a monograph of the artist-designer, but Mathias Goeritz: Modernist Art and Architecture in Cold War Mexico also details Mexico’s role in transatlantic cultural interchange.

The book delves into the polyvalent’s career, from Germany, where Goeritz was born and educated, through brief stints in Spain and North Africa, to Mexico City, where the built fruits of his fraught relationship with Luis Barragán—especially the monumental Torres de Satélite—are memorialized. But Goeritz’s fickle and unpopular leanings attracted criticism, including from contemporaries like Diego Rivera, who took issue with his reverence for spirituality.

Josten contextualizes Goeritz’s output within the cultural and political transformations of Latin America, which sparked public debates on aesthetics and modernity while occupying the cross fire of Cold War rivalries. Goeritz hoped his now-famous notion of “emotional architecture” and its built incarnations, most notably the Museo Experimental El Eco, would help define a modern Mexican state as its people were experiencing a mood of restrained optimism. “The spiritual sentiments Goeritz articulated in public declarations were part of his dialectical approach to modernism,” Josten writes. “Arquitectura emocional bore significant fruits for a broader sea change in Mexican culture.”

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Categories: Arts + Culture