Un canto al venado [A Song to the Deer]
57.2 cm x 78 cm (22 1/2 in. x 30 11/16 in.)
(Guatemala City, Guatemala, 1891 - 1985, Mexico City)
Latin America, Guatemalan
Medium and Support:
Oil on paper
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of John and Barbara Duncan, 1971
Although he is justly counted as one of Mexico’s great artists (despite being born in Guatemala), Carlos Mérida’s work marked a clear move away from the folkloric style popular among the Muralists at the time. After returning from studies in Europe in 1929, Mérida attempted to find a link between ancient American cultures and current European art movements, particularly Cubism and Surrealism. Un canto al venado is a good example of his mature style, using Cubist-like abstract forms to suggest human or animal figures, while maintaining an overall pattern reminiscent of pre-Columbian textiles and carvings. The subject (“song to the deer”) may refer to ancient Mexican traditions such as the Yaqui Deer Dance, yet Mérida’s works are never straightforward illustrations. He always combined his interest in local traditions with the formal lessons he learned in Europe as a young man. His critical approach to Muralism would be very influential on the group of Mexican artists who followed, the “Ruptura [Rupture]” generation.