|Birth Day:||December 2, 1891|
|Death Date:||Dec 21, 1984 (age 93)|
As per our current Database, Carlos Merida died on Dec 21, 1984 (age 93).
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
He had a childhood passion for music. However, after an ear deformity caused him to develop hearing difficulties, he begrudgingly gave up music and concentrated instead on painting.
From 1907 to 1909, the family went to live in the small town of Almolonga in the Quetzaltenango Department of Guatemala, where they were from. Here he continued music and art lessons.
Mérida’s art career began when he was still a teenager. His family’s move back to Guatemala City put him in touch with various artists and intellectuals. At age nineteen, he approached Catalan artist and writer Jaime Sabartés, who helped Mérida organize his first individual exhibition at the offices of the El Economista newspaper in Guatemala City in 1910.
As there was little opportunity for artists in Guatemala, in 1910, Mérida traveled to Paris with a friend named Carlos Valenti on a German cargo ship. From then until 1914, he lived and worked in Paris and traveled much of Europe. This put him in touch with European avant garde artists such as Van Dagen, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian as well as Latin American artists studying in Europe such as Diego Rivera, Jorge Enciso, Ángel Zárraga and Dr. Atl. He exhibited his work in venues such as the Independent Salon and the Giroux Gallery in Paris. For unknown reasons, his traveling companion committed suicide in his studio, which affected Mérida deeply and temporarily losing interest in art. He was helped in overcoming this by Roberto Montenegro.
In 1914, Mérida returned to Guatemala and saw his country in a different light, becoming fascinated in the folklor "diversidad"/> His second exhibition in Guatemala was at the Rosenthal Building in 1915, an exhibition which marks the beginning of modern painting in Guatemala. His time with Mexican artists in Europe prompted him to go to Mexico in 1919, when the fighting from the Mexican Revolution had ended but there was still disorder. He arrived to the country a year before Diego Rivera returned from Europe.
Merída’s first trip to the United States was in 1917, where he met writer José Juan Tablada. Mérida made several trips to Europe over his lifetime to both study art and work as an artist and diplomat. His early trips in the 1920s and 1930s put him in touch with both avant garde movements in Europe as well as noted Latin American artists, especially those from Mexico. His last trip was in 1950s.
In 1919, he married Dalila Gálvez, with whom he had two daughters, Alma and Ana. She was from a wealthy family and understood Mérida’s aspirations although her parents had reservations about the marriage. She died ten years before him in 1974.
Mérida is noted for both easel and mural works. His first exhibition in Mexico was in 1920 at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes. In that same year, he exhibited in the United States at the Hispanic Society of New York. He participated in a collective show called the Independent Artists Exhibition in New York in 1922 and exhibited individually at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes in Guatemala and the Valentin Dudesing Gallery in New York in 1926. In the 1930s and 1940s, the reputation of Mexican painting was rising; however, Mérida still needed to work to get his paintings sold. One reason for this was that his work differed from that of the Mexican muralists and was often not well received by critics. Mérida has forty five exhibitions in the United States and eighteen in Mexico from 1928 to 1948. These included an exhibition with Rufino Tamayo at the Art Center of New York (1930), the John Becker and Valentine galleries in New York (1930), the Club de Escritores de México and the Galería Posada in Mexico City (1931), the Stedhal Gallery and the Stanley Rose Gallery in Los Angeles, the East West Gallery in San Francisco, the Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Georgette Passedoit and Cuchnitz galleries in New York (1939-1940) as well as the International Surrealist Exhibition in 1940 in Mexico City. He worked intensely in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s producing designs, graphic works, scenographic sketches for dance, and tapestries, playing with geometric variants. Other venues for his exhibitions included Harvard University, the Berkeley Art Museum at the University of California in Berkeley, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 1954 he exhibited at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas.
In addition to canvas and murals, Mérida also worked in education. In 1932, he founded the dance school of the Secretariat of Public Education with Carlos Orozco Romero and invited the participation of other artists such as Agustín Lazo, Leopoldo Méndez, Silvestre Revueltas and Blas Galindo. He ran the school for three years working with dancers such as Gloria and Nellie Campobello, Graciela Arriaga, Anna Sololow, Waldeen, Gloria Contreras, Evelia Beristain, Rosa Rayna and his own daughter Ana Mérida. For Mérida dance was a way to express what painting and music could not. His daughter Ana studied at the school and became a noted Mexican choreographer. This interest in dance led him to design stage set and costumes for twenty two works from 1940 to 1979. He was particularly interested in indigenous dance, documenting 162 of them, some completely pre-Hispanic. In addition, in 1942 he was invited to teach fresco painting at the North Texas State Teacher’s College in Denton, today the University of North Texas .
In the late 1940s, he worked on murals again, at the Secretaria de Rucursos Hidraulicos and the children’s area of the Miguel Alemán housing complex with Mario Pani. This prompted an interest in a concept called “plastic integration” combining art and architecture. In 1950 he returned to Europe, studying Venetian mosaic techniques in Italy. His next major project with Pani was for the Benito Juárez housing project covering 4,000m2. The concept of this project was to have the works clearly visible to cars passing by the buildings. However, this work was destroyed along with most of the housing complex in the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. A monument to the Juarez project was created by a student of Mérida, Alfonso Soto Soria, at the Fuentes Brotantes housing complex in the south of Mexico City using the plans of the original work. Other projects of this type included the glass mosaic murals at the Reaseguros Alianza Building in Mexico City (1953), the artwork at the Torre Banobras in the center of Tlatelolco, the Cine Mácar and the Museo Nacional de Antropología (1964). In Guatemala, he also created murals and other monumental works including the Palacio Municipal of Guatemala City (La mestiza de Guatemala,), the Chancellery of Guatemala (Glorificación de Quetzal, 1955), the Instituto Guatemalteco de Seguridad Social, at the Crédito Hipotectario Nacional and at the Bank of Guatemala (1956).
In 1957 Mérida won the acquisition prize at the IV Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil. His first major recognition was in 1958, when he received the Order of the Quetzal from the Guatemalan government. This was following by the naming of an annual arts prize of the Instituto de Bellas Artes of Guatemala after him, and the Orden al Mérito Cultual y Artistico also from Guatemala. His first retrospective was in 1966, organized by the Bank of Guatemala. He participated in the III Bienal de Grabado Latinoamericano in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1974 and the Panorama Artístico de la Gráficia at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in 1979. In 1980 he received the Orden del Águila Azteca the highest honor Mexico gives to foreigners. The Palacio de Bellas Artes held important retrospectives in 1981 and again in 1992. Since his death, there have been other events to honor his work including a retrospective at the Museo Metropolitano in Monterrey (2000), a retrospective at the Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca (2008), another at the Museo Modelo de Ciencia e Industria (2010), and the Ana Lucia Gómez Gallery in Guatemala City held an homage to the artist (2011).
In 1963, he donated canvases, graphic pieces and mural sketches to the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Mérida was one of a number of artists such as Diego Rivera and Gerardo Murillo who became committed to promoting the handcrafts and folk art of Mexico and Central America, with a particular interest in those of Guatemala, often featuring Mayan textiles or elements in their decoration in his artwork. He died in Mexico City at the age of 94 on December 21, 1985.
Currently, Carlos Merida is 129 years, 9 months and 24 days old. Carlos Merida will celebrate 130th birthday on a Thursday 2nd of December 2021.
Find out about Carlos Merida birthday activities in timeline view here.