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 article by Mathias Goeritz looks at the level of plastic integration achieved by the Benito Juárez Multifamily Urban Unit, a project under the architectural direction of Mario Pani and Enrique del Moral, working together with the plastic artist, Carlos Mérida. The author makes a proposal that is redolent of twentieth-century ideology: he encourages a resurgence of the desire to have some unity among the various arts. This idea is suggested within an environment of extreme individualism, in which some individuals are trying to find a new and genuinely common style that might become the overall expression of the period. In Mexico, as Goeritz points out, integration has been attempted several times, by certain architects such as Luis Barragán, who chose as his collaborator the painter Jesús Reyes Ferreira; or by Mario Pani, who invited José Clemente Orozco, Carlos Mérida, and Germán Cueto to join him.
Goeritz identifies the challenges inherent in this kind of integration: it must be a joint work of both the artist and the architect, with neither taking a dominant role, as long as the plastic creation is not used to decorate some abstract academism (very popular with architects), which generally means a simple exterior ornamentation of the architectural values and not a true integration at all. Integration, according to Goeritz, does not consist in placing a painting or a work of plastic art in front or on top of a building. In his opinion, both Carlos Mérida and Pani, the architect, fully understood that when they worked on the Benito Juarez multifamily project.
In his article, Mathías Goeritz mentions four of the seven points on functional painting and plastic integration that were written by Carlos Mérida and originally published under the title “Statement” in the catalogue of his exhibition Carlos Mérida paintings 1948–1951 (New York: New Gallery, February 1952). Later, Mérida produced four more proposals and published them in the catalogue of his showing Carlos Mérida: projects, mockups, and samples of recent paintings [proyectos, maquetas y muestras de pinturas recientes] (Mexico City: Galería de Arte Mexicano, October 15–30, 1953).
Carlos Mérida was a driving force behind the integration of the plastic arts into architecture. The goal was to go beyond mere decorations for buildings and promote a genuine collaborative effort between architects and artists that begins at the architectural project’s conception. This movement in the mid-twentieth century opened the way for murals to do what they are still doing today: expressing “the national spirit” on the walls of public buildings as part of the evolution of Mexican plastic art since the revolution of 1910.