“The Return of the Snake” Mathias Goeritz and the Invention of Emotional Architecture

The work on show employs the principle of “emotional architecture” as the theme to build upon and articulate its exhibition discourse

"Torres de Satélite" Mathias Goeritz and Luis Barragán. Mexico 1957

“Torres de Satélite” Mathias Goeritz and Luis Barragán. Mexico 1957

 

Open to the public until April 13 of 2015, the exhibition proposes a survey of the emblematic works by Goeritz as it underscores the manner in which his body of work and his artistic endeavor emerges from the assumption of art as a meta-artistic project that also extends to the social, political and public realms. This exhibition represents an approach to the work of Mathias Goeritz (Danzig, 1915 – Mexico City, 1990), produced after he settled in Mexico in 1949. In his theoretical and practical output, spanning four decades, rational utopia and Neo-primitivism converge, factors that stem from his own biography: his journey through different cities in Europe and North Africa (1948), his stint in Spain, and his participation in the preliminaries to the Primera Semana de Arte in Santillana del Mar (September 1949), as well as his contact with Mexican culture.

You can view an interview with the curator of the exhibition, Francisco Reyes Palma, here.

The work on show employs the principle of “emotional architecture” as the theme to build upon and articulate its exhibition discourse. Formulated by Mathias Goeritz in 1954, this principle became the dynamic core and theoretical and aesthetic basis of his work, appealing to the need to envisage spaces, works and objects that cause maximum emotion in modern man, as opposed to functionalism, aestheticism and individual authorship. Thus, the notions of collaboration, freedom of creation and the recovery of the social functions of design are acknowledged in every work cultivated and produced by Goeritz during these years.

 

Satellite Towers © MATHIAS GOERITZ, 1961. USED UNDER LICENSE BY L.M. DANIEL GOERITZ AND GALERÍA LA CAJA NEGRA, MADRID

“Torres de Satélite” © MATHIAS GOERITZ, 1961. USED UNDER LICENSE BY L.M. DANIEL GOERITZ AND GALERÍA LA CAJA NEGRA, MADRID

 

The exhibition, put together as a journey through Goeritz’s most emblematic works, highlights how the ensemble of his work and activity emanated from the acceptance of art as a meta-artistic project (encompassing the social, political and public spheres), where a primitive form – the edges of the lines that form the snake’s body (La serpiente de El Eco, 1953) – becomes a formal and conceptual unit in all of his pieces, developed within a Cold War context. Equally, terms like scale model and monument appear as categories that pass through his work, substantiating the will to subvert the notion of proportion.

To illustrate these themes and the set of problems regarding the conception and production of different projects and ideas, the exhibition comprises a selection of over two hundred works – drawings, sketches, scale models, photographs, sculptures and panel paintings – that reveal the experimental, analytical and even playful nature of Goeritz’s oeuvre, underpinned by the persistence of a theme and motif.

 

     © 2014     Archivo Lafuente

© 2014 Archivo Lafuente

     © 2014     Archivo Lafuente

© 2014 Archivo Lafuente

 

Extract from Reina Sofía Museum brochure of the exhibition:

Emotional Architecture: The Work as Strategy Mathias Goeritz (Danzig, now Gdansk, 1915) was educated in the turbulent Berlin of the inter-war period, in the midst of the rise of National Socialism. During the Second World War and the subsequent Cold War, Goeritz forged himself a multiple personality. He was first a philosopher and historian and afterwards a painter, a development which coincided with his period at the German Consulate in the Spanish protectorate of Morocco. From 1945 to 1948, Goeritz was feverishly active in Spain as a cultural promoter, and in 1949 he moved to Mexico, where he intensified his dual activity as an artist and agitator. It was there that he condensed his aesthetic principles under the notion of emotional architecture, which he was to apply not only to the construction of buildings but also to painting, sculpture, graphics and visual poetry. At a moment when figurative art and propaganda dominated the art scene in Mexico, emotional architecture became a device for confrontation, yet was well received by the politically more conservative architectural profession. The increased number of construction projects at that time meant that the potential for commissions was very great. The work manifesto of emotional architecture is the El Eco Experimental Museum which defines his later production. Here Goeritz gathers various media (painting, sculpture, furniture design and architecture) and works by artists like Germán Cueto, Henry Moore and Carlos Mérida, his own contributions being a monumental visual poem and the formidable transposable sculpture of a twisted geometric snake, transforming the open courtyard into a performance environment.

In Torres de Ciudad Satélite (Towers of Satellite City), the artist tests the limits of scale, artwork-viewer proximity, and even modes of viewing. Five reinforced cement prisms of colossal size foster the affective mobilization of the viewer and the aestheticization of the effect, turning the work into a national emblem of modernity. From then on, the use of a monumental scale and the synthetic language of geometries, associated with the idea of progress, identified Goeritz’s work as strategist and agitator. A constructor of spatialities where new relations and senses could be established, his art of mediations shakes the institutions that validate art, such as the museum and criticism (El Eco), artistic groups and the gallery (the group of Los Hartos), and history and believe systems (the snake and the pyramid or the cross and the star of David). Approaching his oeuvre obliges us to engage with a work implicated with cultural agency. The interest aroused today by the aspects of circulation and reception in relational, contextual and participative art contrasts with the development of that creative modality of artistic mediation, that aesthetic of commotion with which Goeritz experimented until his death in 1990.


Mathias Goeritz "Ideographic drawing of El Eco experimental museum" © Luis Enrique Noriega Collection

Mathias Goeritz “Ideographic drawing of El Eco experimental museum” © Luis Enrique Noriega Collection

Pyramid of Twelve Boxes Piled Up  © MATHIAS GOERITZ, 1961. USED UNDER LICENSE BY L.M. DANIEL GOERITZ AND GALERÍA LA CAJA NEGRA, MADRID

Pyramid of Twelve Boxes Piled Up © MATHIAS GOERITZ, 1961. USED UNDER LICENSE BY L.M. DANIEL GOERITZ AND GALERÍA LA CAJA NEGRA, MADRID

© Reina Sofia Museum

© Reina Sofia Museum

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