DECEMBER 21, 1985


Born Carlos Santiago Ortega on December 2, 1891, near Guatemala City, Merida was of Maya-Quiche heritage.  He studied painting at the Instituto de Artes y Artesanias before going to Paris where he met Picasso and others.  In 1914, he returned to Guatemala and focused on folklore and indigenous themes.  His later works, linked to the Mayan world with geometric elements, initiated the first pro-Indian art movement in the Americas.  Like Rufino Tamayo [see August 25], Merida fused European Modernism with subjects specific to the Americas.  He won the acquisition prize at the IV Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (1957), received the Order of the Quetzal from the Guatemalan government (1958), and the annual arts prize of the Instituto de Bellas Artes of Guatemala was named after him.  His first retrospective was in 1966; others followed in 1981 and 1992.  In 1980, he received the Orden del Águila Azteca–the highest honor Mexico gives to foreigners.  Mérida’s work is found in major collections worldwide. 

Sources:  "Carlos Merida, Guatemalan (1891 - 1985)," Ro Gallery.  Retrieved 7/23/2019, Wikipedia
Photo:  Florence Arquin (1900-1974), 1950.  Smithsonian Collection.  Fair Use:  This is not being used for profit and is done for educational purposes only.  Further Fair Use justification provided upon request.  Both the author and the subject are deceased.  The Smithsonian is the only source for this photograph:  According to the Smithsonian, the copyright status is undetermined.  

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