Carlos Merida, Guatamalan (1891 - 1984)

Carlos Merida

Carlos Merida (1891-1984) was born in Guatemala and studied at the Instituto de Artes y Artesanias in Guatemala City and Queltzaltenango. From 1908 to 1914 he lived in Paris, and after traveling through Europe, he made his home in México where he became active in the Mexican mural painting school. In 1927 he abandoned his figurative style to became one of México first non-figurative artists.

His later works formed a link to the Mayan world with geometric elements. He integrated into his paintings, indigenous "papel amate" (barkwood paper). Merida created numerous murals in México and Guatemala. In 1942 he taught at the North Texas State Teachers College in Denton, now University of North Texas. The works of Carlos Merida can be found in many major international museums.

Carlos Merida is one of Latin America's pioneer Modernists. Merida studied painting in Paris, where he met Picasso, Modigliani, and others of the Paris school. He initiated the first pro-Indian art movement in the Americas, seven years before the rise of Mexican Muralism. Although Merida assisted Diego Rivera on his first murals, his true artistic direction is more closely identified with Rufino Tamayo. Like Tamayo, Merida rejected large-scale narrative painting, in favor of the more intimate charms of easel painting. Both artists shared a desire to fuse European Modernism with forms and subjects specific to the Americas. Merida's painting has three major stylistic shifts: a figurative period from 1907 to 1926, a Surrealist phase from the late 1920's until the mid 1940's, and a geometric period from 1950 until his death in 1984.

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