On View

Los Caminantes del Maya (Mayan Travellers Walking)

Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

Los Caminantes del Maya (Mayan Travellers Walking)

Artist: Carlos Mérida (Guatemalan, active Mexico, 1891 - 1985)
Date: 1960
Medium: Petro plastic on wood
Overall: 24 3/4 x 17 5/8 in. (62.9 x 44.8 cm.)
Credit Line: Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Gift of Louise R. Noun, 1980.7
Accession number: 1980.7
Classification: painting
In Collection(s)
Label TextMerida is probably best known for combining modern abstraction with pre-Columbian subject matter and aesthetics. In Mayan Travelers Walking the two large stylized figures are depicted in profile and the surface of the painting alludes perhaps to the textured walls of Mayan murals. The colors--blacks, whites, grays and two small areas of reddish brown--are flat and unmodulated with no indication of depth or three-dimensionality. The figures are composed of various geometric forms--rectangles, trapezoids, circles, ellipses, half-circles and triangles--and they seem to be frozen in time. Merida, a descendant of the Mayan-Quiche Indians, was born in Quezaltenango, Guatemala in 1893. He went to Paris in 1910 to study art and worked there with Modigliani, with the Fauve painter Kees van Dongen and with other important members of the School of Paris. After four years of study and travel in Western Europe, he returned to Guatemala. His work was not favorably received in his native country and he moved to Mexico. Merida's work received much greater acclaim in his newly adopted country and he soon became one of Mexico's leading artists. After a second trip to Europe in the late 1920s, his paintings and watercolors became more abstract and revealed the impact of Miro, Klee and Kandinsky.He received numerous public commissions for paintings and mosaics. He also was a serious musician and, for a period of time in the 1940s, he headed the school of dance at the Palace of Fine Arts.This interest in the performing arts resulted in many stage set and costume designs. The discovery in 1946 of the 6th century Mayan murals at Bonampak near the Guatemalan border rekindled his interest and he turned to the visual arts once again. Source: Bulletin, September-October, 1980.
SignedCarlos Mérida 1960 (l,c)
Exhibition History"Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture, Prints from Twenty-three Iowa Collections," Art Gallery, Department of Art, University of Iowa, Iowa City, May 9 - Aug. 6, 1961
Published ReferencesDMAC Bulletin, Sept./Oct. 1980, cover ill.

"Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture, Prints from Twenty-three Iowa Collections," Art Gallery, Department of Art, University of Iowa, Iowa City, 1961, exh.cat. no.18

DES MOINES ART CENTER: SELECTED PAINTINGS, SCULPTURES AND WORKS ON PAPER, Des Moines Art Center, 1985, ref. & b/w ill. p.155, pl.92
entirely unexpected