Art in Latin American Architecture

By Paul F. Damaz | Go to book overview

Schools
Teachers' School , Mexico City, 1960 Architect: Mario Pani Painter: José Clemente Orozco Sculptor: Luis Ortiz Monestorio Although this school was not built recently it remains one of the best examples of the functional use of a work of art and of the beneficial influence that art and architecture can have on each other. The giant mural by Orazco, one of his lost and best works, is used here as a backdrop for the stage of the triangular open air theater flanked by the classroom wings of the school. The galleries of these wings create a series of horizontal lines that converge upon the stage wall, enhancing the mural as the focal point of the composition. Even the red brick of the building matches the large red areas of the mural painted with ethyl silicate on the concrete wall. For the Mexican "social-realist" school, the subject of Orozco's mural is a classical one: the struggle against the darkness of the past, and the emergence into an ideal enlightened future. However, unlike most Mexican murals, this one develops its theme not by depicting heroes and giant monsters, but by a rich composition made up of semi-abstract shapes. It clearly illustrates the evolution of Orozco's style as it manifested itself toward the end of his life. The baroque door at the center of the stage was part of the old structure that was replaced by the new building, and has been kept as a memorial.
Open Forum of the University of Concepción, Chile, 1962 Architect: Emilio Duhart Painter: Mario Carreño Sculptor: Samuel Roman This Open Forum, or Central Plaza, is located in the center of the university campus. It is a meeting place for students and can accommodate 4,000 spectators at academic ceremonies, theatrical productions, concarts, film showings and the like. In designing this plaza, Emilio Duhart has not merely provided a simple open area but has created a plastic architectural and artistic composition that will become the center of visual attraction at the university. The three levels of the plaza are emphasized by various paving textures and by a color scheme that ranges from the cool blues and greens of the sunken area to the warm reds and yellows of the high terrace. At the far end of the plaza, Samuel Roman's monument to the founder of the university will be placed above a waterfall created by a series of gargoyles projecting from the wall. The opposite end of the plaza will be closed by a 120-foot- long double-faced free-standing mural called the "Sun Wall." The striking design by Mario Carreño will be executed in glazed brick, some of it extending beyond the face of the wall. The two exposed sides of the bricks, glazed in different colors, will produce a dynamic affect on spectators walking in front of the wall.

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