Carlos Merida
Carlos Mérida was a Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

n artist.

Early life

Mérida was born in Guatemala City
Guatemala City
Guatemala City , is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala and Central America...

 to a family from Quetzaltenango
Quetzaltenango, also commonly known by its indigenous name, Xelajú , or more commonly, Xela , is the second largest city of Guatemala. It is both the capital of Quetzaltenango Department and the municipal seat of Quetzaltenango municipality....

, boasting a Maya
Maya peoples
The Maya people constitute a diverse range of the Native American people of southern Mexico and northern Central America. The overarching term "Maya" is a collective designation to include the peoples of the region who share some degree of cultural and linguistic heritage; however, the term...

 and Zapotec heritage which was often an inspiration in his art. He began studying music (his early passion) but became hearing-impaired due to illness. He then changed to the visual arts. He grew up in Quetzaltenango but upon graduating from high school in 1909 he moved in Guatemala City where he began to make contacts among the intelligentsia, including Jaime Sabartes (biographer of Pablo Picasso) and the painter Carlos Valenti
Carlos Mauricio Valenti Perrillat
Carlos Mauricio Valenti Perrillat was a French-born painter, who worked predominantly in Guatemala...


Early career

Mérida studied at the Instituto de Artes y Artesanias in Guatemala City
Guatemala City
Guatemala City , is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala and Central America...

. In 1912 he accompanied his friend Valenti to Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, where he met Picasso. However just 4 months after arriving, Valenti shot himself dead, an event that greatly affected Mérida. After traveling through Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, he returned to Guatemala in 1914 and had his first exhibition.

In 1919 he married Dalillla Gálvez (with whom he remained married until her death in 1974) but because the marriage was against the wishes of her family, they made their home in México
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 where he became active in the Mexican mural painting school.

Later career

In 1922 Mérida worked with Diego Rivera to paint the murals of the Anfiteatro Bolivar in Mexico City, and together with Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros founded the Union of Workers, Technicians, Painters and Sculptors. His first mural as a solo artist was his commission in 1923 to paint the Children's Library of the Ministry of Public Education ("Little Red Riding Hood and the Four Elements").

In 1927, after another stint in Paris familiarzing himself with Paul Klee & Joan Miró, he abandoned his figurative style to became one of México's first non-figurative artists. On his return from Paris in 1929, he was named the director of the gallery of Mexico's National Theatre.

His later works formed a link to the Mayan world with geometric elements. He integrated into his paintings indigenous "papel amate" (barkwood paper). His mural for the Presidente Juárez building (1952) depicted a series of Mexican creation myths.

1940 saw his participation in the International Surrealist Exhibition that took place in Mexico and in 1942 he went to teach at the North Texas State Teachers College in Denton (now the University of North Texas). In 1949 Mérida began to research the integration of different arts and from the 1950s onwards his art began to show a Constructivist tone, that was demonstrated in murals and mosaics (often using materials like glass) such as for the Alianza Insurance building in Mexico City (1953) and the City Hall of Guatemala City (1956).

His later career also saw Mérida dividing his time between commissions in Mexico and in his native Guatemala, with occasional forays elsewhere (e.g. a glass wall in the Civic Center in San Antonio, Texas).

As well as installation art like murals and mosaics, Mérida continued to paint on canvas and also to produce silkscreens and lithographs, principal among which are albums such as Tres Motivos (1936) and Trajes Indígenas de Guatemala.

Music and dance

Mérida's first love was music and he never lost touch with that world; he helped found the School of Dance at the Ministry of Public Education (in Mexico) and later became its director. His visual art was said to be "musical", with series of paintings that were variations upon a theme much as composers do in music.

His second daughter Ana Mérida
Ana Mérida
Ana María Mérida Gálvez was a Mexican ballet dancer and choreographer. She also worked for movies.- Biography :...

 became an important Mexican ballet dancer and choreographer.
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