Mathias Goeritz (German/Mexican 1915-1990)
Mathias Goeritz (German/Mexican 1915-1990)

Mensaje dorado

Mathias Goeritz (German/Mexican 1915-1990)
Mensaje dorado
signed 'MG' (on the reverse)
goldleaf on wood
36¾ x 36¾ x 3 in. (93.3 x 93.3 x 7.6 cm.)
Executed circa 1974.
Gift from the artist to the present owners (1974).

Lot Essay

This work is sold with a certificate of authenticity signed by Dra. Lily Kassner.

Mathias Goeritz and Marianne Gast were married from 1942 to 1957. On that year they separated and in Chile she met the German ambassador to that country, whom she married. Marianne fell ill and later returned to Germany, where she was operated from a brain tumor. When it worsened, Mathias Goeritz went to her bedside and spent the last months with her, until her death on October 27, 1958 in Bonn. This event sunk Mathias Goeritz in a devastating depression. The depression over the death of his loyal companion threw the artist into an unspeakable chaos. Strange figures were born from that time, Complejos ambulantes, Pesadilla en forma de zopilote and others. The return to the interior world made him produce austere creations composed with nails and tin; he based their meanings on biblical texts from the Old Testament.

Done with an assemblage technique, Goeritz exhibited them as Clouages. The majority are rhythmic constellations achieved through superimposed nails or perforations on sheet metal that show either a background color or goldleaf. In some works the nails aggressively emerge from the interior of the piece; in others, closed or partially open sheets of metal, painted or oxidized, cover dramatically colored backgrounds. Initially he called them Paños de sudor and later titled them Mensajes. He exhibited these artworks for the first time in a 1959 retrospective exhibition with Inés Amor at the Galería de Arte Mexicano in Mexico City.

In 1960 Goeritz exhibited them again in New York, at the Carstairs Gallery. He drafted a protest against the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which was showing a self-destructing Jean Tinguely machine. Please Stop is a public rebellion against the destructive relativism of contemporary art and his first appeal in favor of a spiritual and metaphysical art. He advocated a religious posture as the only exit to that artistic revolution. The Iris Clert Gallery, in Paris, invited Mathias Goeritz to show part of the work taken to New York. At his arrival, he wrote another more aggressive manifesto against L'Art-Merde, which was everywhere. This definitive break with the official modern art then predominantly exhibited in museums and galleries was the categorical proof of the absolute honesty of his convictions.

Upon his return to Mexico, Goeritz felt the need to outline his posture in another manifesto Estoy Harto and made it public in the 1960 exhibition at the Antonio Souza Gallery. He exhibited Mensajes Metacromáticos, known for being simple boards of diverse sizes and thicknesses whose surfaces were covered in gold leaf. A year later he repeated the previous manifesto, writing in plural: Estamos Hartos. Thus his individual protest turned into the movement of Los Hartos. Three of the most restless artists of the country joined in: José Luis Cuevas, Pedro Friedeberg, Jesús Reyes Ferreira as well as people associated with other crafts. Los Hartos was the first conceptual exhibition presented in Mexico.

There is no doubt that it was an ironic spectacle, yet profoundly serious at the same time. The work was not characterized by its aesthetics but by an ethical and philosophical sense. About the Los Hartos movement, Mathias Goeritz declared:

Art must once again become SERVICE. The artist must no longer consider himself different, better or more important than any other person, but turn toward spiritual humility. Each one must show the best of which he is capable of producing and giving, that of which he is most convinced. Art as prayer, this is the motto of Los Hartos.

The Los Hartos movement is part of a total skepticism and of an insatiable eagerness for extrapolation that in Mathias Goeritz case was rooted in the German Expressionism of the 1930s and, in its literary aspect, the proverbial dementia of its claim harks back to the Dadaist Manifestos of Hugo Ball and Richard Huelsenbeck.

Dra. Lily Kassner, Mexico City.

More from Latin American Sale

View All
View All