El Eco (1953-today)
In 1952 during a painting and sculpture exhibition at the Galería de Arte Mexicano, the artist Mathias Goeritz met Daniel Mont, a Mexican entrepreneur interested in projects related with restaurants, bars, and art galleries. This patron commissioned Goeritz with the construction of a place that would help articulate the new relation between his commercial interests and the vanguard spirit of some of the cultural actors of the time, with the intention of finding something different from the establishment.
Under the premise “do whatever you want”, Mathias Goeritz conceived the Museo Experimental el Eco, located in Sullivan Street in Mexico City. It was designed as a poetic structure that through the layout of its corridors, ceilings, walls, openings and galleries would take its visitors to reflect their spatial experience in an emotional act; this concept defied the domineering interests of functionalism in architecture at that time. Basing the design in his “Emotional Architecture Manifest”(“Manifiesto de la arquitectura emocional), which he wrote inspired by the religious experience of gothic and baroque architectures, Goeritz conceived the building as a penetrable sculpture. This space allowed its creator and his benefactor to found a platform for art without precedent in the context of Mexican and international art in the 50’s decade.
Part of the enigma, the mysticism and the power of the Eco lies in the erratic live it has led throughout the years. It started as a experimental museum, one without a collection whose intention was to expand the languages of art, after it was a restaurant, night club, theater, and a venue of congregation for political activists. All this roles altered dramatically its architectural structure during the 50’s and the years subsequent to Daniel Mont’s death in 1953. In 2004, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) bought the building and reopened its doors on September 7th 2005 after months working in it to restore this work of art to its original state. The intention was to revive the architectural legacy of Goeritz, and above all, to give life back to a structure made initially to expand the languages of the arts. This space in Sullivan Street was thought of as a life meeting space, a place for speculation and reflection about art and its experimental and emotional dimensions.