GUNTHER GERZSO (1915-2000)
GUNTHER GERZSO (1915-2000)
1 More
GUNTHER GERZSO (1915-2000)

Ciudad desde arriba

GUNTHER GERZSO (1915-2000)
Ciudad desde arriba
signed and dated 'GERZSO 55' (lower right); signed and dated 'GERZSO 55' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
28 ¾ x 21 ½ in. (73.7 x 54.5 cm.)
Painted in 1955
Private collection, Mexico City; sale, Christie's, New York, 22 November 2006, lot 205.
Frey Norris Gallery, San Francisco.
Acquired from the above by the present owners.

Brought to you by

Annie Wallington
Annie Wallington Senior Specialist, Head of Core Sales

Lot Essay

“I am not an abstract painter, but a landscape painter,” Gerzso once insisted. “I am a great admirer of this country—of its culture and landscape—that is what influences my painting.” A self-described “European with Mexican eyes,” he expanded the visual horizons of mid-century Mexican modernism through his iconic abstractions, grounded in the architectural and psychic history of his native land. Their synthesis of modernist geometric abstraction and pre-Hispanic forms evolved out of his encounters with Mesoamerican art and archaeology, beginning in the mid-1940s, and from conversations with friends and colleagues including Miguel Covarrubias, Wolfgang Paalen, and Paul Westheim. “The defining moment for me was the discovery of pre-Columbian art,” Gerzso recalled. “I got passionate about its emotional and spiritual value. From then on, I sought to express the atmosphere of Mexico” (in D. du Pont, Risking the Abstract: Mexican Modernism and the Art of Gunther Gerzso, exh. cat., Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 2003, p. 110, 114, and 118).

Taking an aerial perspective, Ciudad desde arriba distills the archaic forms and architecture of the Mesoamerican landscape within a flattened constellation of colors and striated lines. The curved, interlocking geometries of the urban grid suggest on the one hand a metaphorical excavation of Mexico’s primitive past and, on the other, a means of containing and ordering the vastness of the land. The compacted city structure gleams in rich tones of blue and indigo against a complementary ocher ground that conveys the immensity of the surrounding landscape, luminous and otherworldly. “For him the Mexican medium is not a pretext for easy picturesqueness,” Paalen remarked of his friend, but rather “a reverberation of ancient glory and new promises” (in op. cit., p. 111).

Abby McEwen, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park.

More from Impressionist and Modern Art Day and Works on Paper Sale

View All
View All