• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2005

    Latin American Sale Evening Session

    28 - 29 May 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 28

    Mathias Goeritz (German/Mexican 1915-1990)


    Price Realised  


    Mathias Goeritz (German/Mexican 1915-1990)
    goldleaf on wood
    53 1/8 x 48 in. (135 x 122 cm.)
    Executed circa 1959.

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    This lot is sold with a certificate of authenticity signed by Lily Kassner and dated March 26, 2008.

    Luis Barragán developed El Pedregal de San Angel to the South of Mexico City, the most important project in the decades of the 1940s and 1950s. It is known by all that his great friend Jesús Reyes Ferreira (Chucho Reyes) influenced the inclusion of the color scheme and the vegetation utilized at El Pedregal. His advice was always well heeded by Barragán. When Mathias and Marianne Goeritz arrived in Mexico in 1949, Edmundo and Ida Rodríguez de O'Gorman introduced them to Luis Barragán and Chucho Reyes.

    In 1951 Barragán asked Mathias to execute the Serpiente del Pedregal (in reinforced concrete) for the entrance of the development, initiating a fruitful collaboration between the two friends. Thus they worked in various urban projects in Mexico City and Guadalajara.

    For the Prieto-López house, Luis Barragán sought collaborations from Chucho Reyes and Mathias Goeritz. In the space that leads to the living room, Mathias designed and finished El Angel (1953-1954), carved wood measuring 1.72 m. in height, which became famous since it appeared in all the photographs of the Prieto López house taken by Armando Salas Portugal, included in all the Luis Barragán books. The collaboration between the three friends (Barragán, Reyes and Goeritz) left an insuperable mark in the decoration and design of the spaces in said house, which has been considered one of Barragán's most important architectural achievements.

    The Goeritz-Barragán affection and admiration augmented with their professional relationship and lasted approximately 18 years. They were united by, among other things, a mutual admiration for the Bauhaus and Moorish and Mediterranean architecture (Morocco, the Alhambra). They mutually supported each other in their common struggle for architectural and artistic renovation. In 1957 they collaborated in the construction of Las Torres de Satélite, an avant-garde pillar of urban monumental sculpture in the national and international scene.

    In 1959, after his wife Marianne passed away, Mathias Goeritz became immersed in a spiritual climate of gloom and disillusionment. Striving to achieve the anonymity brought about by artistic creation, he finished a set of wooden stretchers covered in gold leaf, unto some of which he adds nails, with their tips protruding out; and in others, over-lays half-opened painted or rusted sheets. Because of the nails, he calls them "Clouages" and titles them Mensajes. The common denominator among them is their reference to a biblical verse of an exacerbated drama.

    Throughout his life, Mathias Goeritz defended a stance of anonymity and the absence of vanity in regards to his labor, adopting a total and disinterested dedication, like the craftsmen of the past had done. His first large format golden square, exhibited on November 3, 1960 at the Galería Antonio Souza, was given to his friend Barragán the very same year it had been shown, and can be contemplated in his house-studio at Mexico City.

    At the Convent of the Capuchinas Sacramentarias del Purísimo Corazón de María, located in Tlalpan, in Mexico City, once again there is a meeting of these three outstanding talents of Mexican art in the past century: Barragán-Goeritz-Reyes. The first one looked after the general reconstruction of the building. The painter from Jalisco worked on the cross to the side of the altar and on the holy robes. Goeritz was in charge of shaping the front of the altar, making use of the amber tonalities of the light, which plows the space through the stained glass in order to reach a triptych; he finished according to the same technique used in the Mensajes. It is impossible to leave out the wedge shaped wall, which the Barragán-Goeritz team had already finished at Las Torres de Satélite.

    Lily Kassner

    Pre-Lot Text