The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
This essay is the first sketch of some of Carlos Mérida’s original concepts on Integración Plástica [Arts Integration]. He states that functional painting—the only path in contemporary art—should be created for the majority of people, in order to complete its social function, given that easel paintings are a thing of the past. Carlos Mérida advocates for a pictorial expression that is free of demagoguery and of political content; a more pure expression, more lyrical, one that seeks the emotional enjoyment of the masses and that is more human, more universal, and completely integrated into the new architecture. The author gives examples of integrated works in the world and positively describes the results of the integration carried out at the Ciudad Universitaria (UNAM campus), principally indicating the murals by Juan O’Gorman and Diego Rivera. Mérida likewise reports on his experience with the decoration at the Centro Urbano President Juárez [the Juárez apartment blocks] in Mexico City.
This text is the first essay on the integration of the arts by Carlos Mérida (1891–1984), the Guatemalan painter based in Mexico. In it, he presents his ideas and experiences, as well as the conversations and debates Mérida maintained with several of his contemporaries on this theme. By the time he wrote the essay, he had already created his most important integrated work: the Centro Urbano Presidente Juárez [The Juárez apartment blocks]. The text deals with several of the artist’s original concepts. It primarily covers the social function of art, an art for the majority of people, but in a manner different from that which had been proposed earlier by the first muralists in the 1920s. Mérida advocates for a pictorial expression free of demagoguery and of political content, an art whose purity and lyricism seeks the emotional enjoyment of the masses, thus becoming more human and more universal. Mérida uses the term “social function,” instead of “aesthetic function,” in order to describe an art that remains within the reach of the majority of people and that is opposed to muralism; nonetheless, Mérida again takes up some of its principles. On the one hand, he acknowledges how fruitful it was in its beginnings, but on the other hand, he considers it anachronistic not only in its thematic discourse, but also in its attempt to integrate the arts, to the point that he calls it the old Muralist School. He also mentions several tenets of the 1923 Manifiesto del Sindicato de Obreros Técnicos Pintores y Escultores [Manifesto SOTPE of the Union of Technical Painters and Sculptors]—to which he contributed—but he strips it of revolutionary discourse and frames it more democratically. For example, according to the SOTPE, easel painting and individualism in the arts were bourgeois markers and utterly alien to revolutionary art. For Mérida, they symbolized a historical practice, an art that was only valid in the past and for a minority of people. It generated vedettes [celebrities], which had no place in the “arte de integración” [integration of the arts] wherein collective work was vital.