Mythic Constructions: Carlos Mérida and Paul Klee

July 2, 2022–December 2022
Floor 2

This focused presentation features vibrant compositions by Guatemalan artist Carlos Mérida (1891–1984) and Swiss-born modernist Paul Klee (1879–1940) that fuse mythic forms and fluid marks, revealing a dynamic international exchange around abstraction.

Mérida first met Klee when he left Mexico City for an extended stay in Paris in 1927 that sparked “a profound transformation” as he reconnected with the international surrealist movement and embraced abstraction. Drawing equally from his Maya Quiché heritage and his global travels, Mérida explained, “the sense of abstraction I inherited from the Mayas took shape in me with clarity and precision.” Just as Klee blended epic narratives and imaginative figures, Mérida reclaimed ancient forms and myths to promote a visual language of “lyrical and poetic expressions.”

Exhibition Preview

Paul Klee, Pferd und Mann (Horse and Man), 1925; collection SFMOMA, gift of the Djerassi Art Trust
Carlos Mérida, Untitled, 1975; © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City, Gift of John Jago Trelawney, photo: Katherine Du Tiel
Carlos Mérida, Estampas del Popol-Vuh (Prints of the Popol Vuh), 1943; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and SFMOMA Library and Archives, 1944, photo: Katherine Du Tiel
Paul Klee, Grosses Tier (Large Beast), 1928; Fractional and promised gift of the Djerassi Art Trust, photo: Don Ross