A foundational figure of Mexican modernism, Mérida cultivated a distinctly American language of abstraction, informed by the indigenous traditions of the ancient Maya and the twentieth-century Cubist and Constructivist avant-gardes. A striking, linear geometry defines his work of the 1950s, in which a rhythmic, flat pattern of color and negative space animates an underlying grid. The tesselated surfaces and pure colors recall Joan Miró’s seminal "Constellation" series (1940-41) as well as the symbolic designs and shapes of Maya textiles; Mérida’s study of Venetian mosaic during travel to Italy in 1950 suggests an additional source. The free-form geometry of the present "Sin título" coheres in a structured syncopation of line and color, rendered in a simplified palette of ocher, green, and black. This graphic distillation of indigenous and modernist forms exemplifies Mérida’s autochthonous abstraction, increasingly renowned at midcentury and propagated on a monumental scale in mural projects across Latin America.
This text was created in collaboration with the University of Maryland Department of Art History & Archaeology and written by Abigail McEwen.