History of Art and Architecture

Jennifer Josten Lecture


Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm

Monumental Towers and Mutable Pyramids: Mathias Goeritz and the New Art in Midcentury Mexico

Jennifer Josten, PhD Candidate, Yale University

In 1957, German artist Mathias Goeritz and Mexican architect Luis Barragán designed the Torres de Ciudad Satélite (Towers of Satellite City) to serve as the physical marker and advertising logo for Mexico City’s, and Mexico’s, first planned “bedroom community.” Over one hundred feet tall and constructed from reinforced concrete, the hollow, wedge-shaped Towers exemplify Goeritz’s concept of Arquitectura Emocional (Emotional Architecture). This anti-rationalist, anti-realist approach to the integration of abstract art and modernist architecture sought to channel the awe-inspiring properties of pre-Columbian and Gothic monuments into modern constructions. By 1959, Goeritz had transferred the permanent, monumental aims of Emotional Architecture to a portable and mutable assemblage sculpture, entitled Construcción emocional (Emotional Construction) or Pyramides mexicaines (Mexican Pyramids), which he deployed in New York and Paris in neo-avant-garde contexts. In positioning the Towers of Satellite City and Mexican Pyramids as the two poles of Goeritz’s articulation of Emotional Architecture, this lecture locates the emergence of the “new art” in Mexico not in a rupture between realist and abstract painters--as previous histories have claimed--but at the nexus of sculpture, architecture, and the circulation of these forms in exhibitions and the mass media.