b. Danzig (now Gdansk), 1915
d. Mexico City, 1990
Mathias Goertiz was a German painter, sculptor, and teacher who was active in Mexico. He was born in Poland (then Germany) in 1912 and studied philosophy and art history in Berlin at Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität, also attending some courses in fine arts and receiving his doctorate in 1940. Also in 1940, he immigrated to Spanish Morocco, where he worked as a teacher until 1944. He returned to Europe at the end of World War II in 1945, settling in Spain: first in Granada, then in Madrid, and finally in Santillana, near Santander. There, he devoted himself to painting, meeting avant-garde artists, and in 1948, helping to found the Escuela de Altamira, which represented a call to artistic rebellion and propounded absolute creative freedom.
In 1949, Goeritz settled in Mexico and became a professor of visual education and drawing at the Escuela de Arquitectura of the Universidad de Guadalajara, at the invitation of the school’s director, Ignacio Díaz Morales (1905–92). On moving to Mexico City in 1954, Goeritz continued to teach and entered a richly productive period, particularly with his sculpture. He produced a series of Heads made from gourds or cast in bronze as well as public sculptures such as “The Animal of the Pedregal” (1954) for the Jardines del Pedregal de San Angel in Mexico City. He also worked productively in collaboration with a number of architects, especially Barragán, with whom he created a monumental sculpture: The Towers of Satélite, for the Ciudad Satélite in Mexico state in 1957.
In 1961, Goeritz participated at the Galería Antonio Souza in a group exhibition: Los hartos, for which he published another manifesto. Other participants included José Luis Cuevas and Pedro Friedeberg, with whom he instrumentally established abstractions and other modern trends in Mexico. Through his foreign contacts, Goeritz was able to help commission sculptures in Mexico by well-known foreign artists, for example a series of 18 works known as La ruta de la amistad (1968) in Mexico City, as well as to execute works of his own abroad, notably at the Alejandro and Lilly Saltiel community centre in Jerusalem (1975–80).