Marlene Gallegos


“Carlos Merida”  written in a red, graphical font on a white wall. On the right side of his name was a description board, about who Carlos Merida was. There was an English board and adjacent was a translated board in Spanish. Carlos Mérida was an important twentieth-century artist who left a rich legacy of pioneering art. Born in Guatemala City in 1891, Mérida lived and worked for most of his life in Mexico City. San Antonio Museum of Art has obtained great examples of Mérida’s works, and its collection illustrates the artist’s broad diversity of themes and media –like his Natives Costumes of Guatemala (1940) to his Birds of Paradise (1936).


In the center of the room there was a clear display with a white podium. Inside of the podium there was three lithographs of Carlos Merida. This piece was called Native Costumes of Guatemala, 1940. They were fairly large compared to a regular size paper. Starting on the left side it displayed the cover/container that held all the lithographs. It was very decorative with a floral border containing the title, “Native Costumes of Guatemala”,  which almost reminded me of the art nouveau style. It had a sense of style of decorative art and design. It is characterized by complicated linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms.The following two pieces that followed were lithographs sharing the same techniques and styles as the cover, however within the border it contained people from the Guatemalan culture. Even though it showed the “Native Costumes” in the center of the page, the print was a strategic work in itself. Since it was a lithograph it had crisp and clean edges but it also contained a lot of organic features and curves. The shapes around the border were very geometric and abstracted, symbolizing nothing but the shape itself. This emphasizes the simplicity yet pleasing of these lithographs and not just the work itself but also the print work behind it.  


His final piece was contained in a black border frame like the other lithographs on the wall. Birds of Paradise, 1936 had the most contrast in color and abstract among the rest. There was a sharp line that cut through the top of the painting diagonally and an implied line separating two distinctive colors, yellow and red. This implied the horizon line of a sunset or sunrise. Two black non-figurative objects were placed in the center besides each other. By taking the title into consideration, which implied the birds. It seemed to be a reference to the raven bird since they were both black. They were flying towards the horizon line, based on the position and direction. He represented this painting in a poetic and experimental way compare to his lithographs. The lithographs had a sense of control and structure when the painting had a more loose and cohesive disarrangement. The figures were abstract shapes but they still held the quality of a lithograph print which were sharp, clean, and geometric with a touch of organic features.


-Marlene Gallegos