Mathias Goeritz

Werner Mathias Goeritz Brunner (Danzig, Germany, April 4th, 1915/ now Gdansk, Poland – Mexico City, Mexico; August 4th, 1990).

In 1948 the journalist, writer and philosopher Eugenio d Òrs named the young artist Mathias Goeritz a member of the Academy of Arts in Spain, in recognition for a project he developed in Santillana del Mar together with the artists Ángel Ferrant, Ricardo Gullón, and Pablo Beltrán Heredia. With them he shared an interest in encouraging the development of the ideas of modernity from the standpoint of abstract art, with an educational program called the School of Altamira. Said project emerged as a result of a group exhibition of the local artistic community. Mathias Goeritz, who years before had developed a particular interest in education understanding it as large range process of artistic production parallel to the classic techniques of art in academia, was interested in confronting philosophical concepts with the experience gained from studying the European vanguard movements, where emotions and the mystery of the form could evolve into a state of mind that could bond human beings from their experience with art.

Because the war, that at that time had just broken down the tranquility of most of the world, left no space for the ideas of progress and modernity, from an evolutionary nature of accumulation in the languages of art, the isms and the spirit of the vanguards were transformed into humanitarian wishes that greatly collaborated in diluting the linear condition of art history. It is not strange then, that an educational project which had as one of its main purposes the expansion of the languages, the techniques and the representation models of expression of artists from a provincial town, had flaunted the motto “al men, brothers at last, transform into artists.” The interest of many local artists was recognized by a sector of the Academy, after seeing the great turnout of local painters who participated in Goeritz’s an his comrades project, at the time it was even considered as a project which would reinvigorate the artistic practice in the area. However, in his speech of investiture as a distinguished member of the academia in Madrid, Goeritz strongly criticized the institution and the negative press regarding art there, which resulted on his expulsion from the academy and, as consequence, his Spanish visa was denied.

No longer having the possibility of staying in Spain, Goeritz traveled to Mexico thanks to the recommendation the artist Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo made to the architect Ignacio Díaz Morales, who worked in the development of the study program of the recently inaugurated School of Architecture in Guadalajara. It was them with the support of the University’s President Jorge Matute Ramos, who made possible for Goeritz to stay in Mexico, thus starting in 1949 his now well renowned Visual Education Workshop. It is in this context where he met the engineer Luis Barragán and the painter Jesús Reyes Ferreira, with whom in the following years he created various projects of great relevance to the histories of Mexican art and architecture. Museo Experimental el Eco is one of his most significant Works, considered a crucial piece of the history of Mexican modern art. The building was inaugurated in 1953 by petition of the Mexican entrepreneur Daniel Mont.

In 1957 Goeritz collaborated with the architect Luis Barragán and the painter Jesús Reyes Ferreira, and built his most recognized work: the Towers of Satélite (Torres de Satélite), inaugurated in 1958, as an emblem of the new Satellite City (Ciudad Satélite), which at the time stood as a symbol of the national modernization project; parallel to this work, he made the Towers of Temixco (Torres de Temixco) in the state of Morelos and the stained glass windows at the San Lorenzo Martyr Chapel in México City, renewing what until then was recognized as sacred art.

These projects influenced him so that in 1959, after the death of his wife Marianne Gast, he would start the series of two-dimensional works known as Golden Messages (Mensajes dorados), the monochromatic pieces that use gold leaf as a spiritual material. Goeritz defined his artistic production process as a visual prayer, said series culminated with the exhibition of the same name at the Carstairs Gallery in New York in 1962. The Golden Messages were the predecessors of his collaboration with Luis Barragán in the altar project of the Capuchin Chapel in Mexico City in 1963. In 1964 he created the sculpture of David’s Star, the towers and the stained glasses of the Maguen David synagogue, and in 1967 the lattice of the Camino Real Hotel, both in Mexico City. A year later on the occasion of the Olympic Games of 1968, Mathias Goeritz promoted the creation of a sculptural urban circuit known as The Friendship Route (La ruta de la amistad) following the new freeway in Mexico City, Periférico. The project included the works of more than a dozen foreign sculptors who represented various countries. From 1978 to 1980 he made the project of the Sculptural Space (Espacio Escultórico) together with the artists Helen Escobedo, Manuel Felguérez, Hersúa, Sebastián, and Federico Silva, in the premises of Ciudad Universitaria. During this period he also made the Labyrinth of Jerusalem (Laberinto de Jerusalem) in Israel, and in 1988 he built the tower for the Miguel Aleman Foundation in México City. It was in 1990 when his work Monograma AMT in Jerusalem was finished, a year after his death on August 4th of the same year.

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