Terrazas bio by nc english


Published on

Published in: Education, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Terrazas bio by nc english

  1. 1. Eduardo Terrazas Biographical ProfileEduardo Terrazas was born in the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco in 1936. Three months afterhis birth, his family, originally from northern Mexico, relocated to Mexico City. During his yearsof professional training as an architect (1953-1958), the National Autonomous University ofMexico was transferred from the San Carlos Academy, located in the historic downtown area ofMexico City, to the new University City campus south of the capital. There, Terrazas came intocontact with a whole new generation of teachers determined to rethink what kind of architectureMexico required. The Revolution of 1910 had permanently altered the conditions under whicharchitecture would develop, given that the national agenda was built around the search forsolutions to collective problems that had arisen from the country’s social needs. These mendedicated their pedagogical activity towards the definition of a national architecture based onactual social demands and aspirations.This focus on Mexican architecture during Terrazas’ years of study decisively influencednot only his career as an architect, but his artistic endeavors as well. The social orientation of hiswork is manifested as a conscious drive to recover and renovate multiple creative expressions inMexico. One of the main focal points of Terrazas’ artistic career has been the appropriation ofelements belonging to the Mexican artisan tradition and national folk art culture and establishinga constant dialogue between them and different trends in contemporary art. Through this dialogueTerrazas opened up a permanent process of renovation and evolution of both traditions. However,his perspective was already very different from that which, stemming from the Revolution,proposed to depict national life under the ideological framework that characterized Mexicanmuralism in the early 20thcentury. Terrazas began his approach to artistic language as an end initself and for him, as for many artists of his generation, the language of art is, more than anything,1
  2. 2. a set of formal challenges to be explored rather than a bearer of representation.Upon completing his degree at the National School of Architecture, he began a longperiod of studies and work outside Mexico that would significantly broaden the horizon of hisknowledge and interests in the visual arts beyond architecture. This period of more than fiveyears would take him to the United States, Italy, Russia, Poland, England and France. First, heobtained his Master’s degree in Architecture from Cornell University, where he took Art Historyclasses with the Pop-art theorist Alan Solomon, who introduced him to the basics of art history.Within the intellectual environment at Cornell, the borders between architecture, urbanism, andart began to vanish, above all under the influence of his mentors John Reps –an urban plannerand historian of urban planning-, John Hejduk –an artist, architect and pedagogue- and RobertSlutzky, a painter, writer and architectural theorist.After a brief stay in Mexico, Terrazas embarked for Europe and headed for Rome, wherehe studied under Pier Luigi Nervi for a short time and worked as an extra at Cinecittà. His stay inRome in the early 1960s, a city with intense artistic and intellectual activity, would wield a stronginfluence over Eduardo’s career, and it was there, in the artistic circle surrounding the ViaMargutta –famous for its numerous contemporary art galleries- that he came into contact with theEuropean avant-gardes. This contact caused him great admiration and amazement and thus hebegan to question himself, to experiment and to paint. His approach to art began with theproduction of works based on autonomous principles and corresponding techniques and lawswith no external references. In this context, in which the visual arts encompassed architecture aswell as design and urbanism (De Stijl, Bauhaus), Terrazas adopted the formal investigation ofspace in aesthetic terms as part of a search for harmony and visual rhythm and, progressively, asa means of building a socially functional city environment. His artistic activity during thismultidisciplinary stage was strongly linked to a sense of social responsibility, in that he2
  3. 3. conceived his activity as being tied to the search of a formal language that would reveal what is atstake for contemporary urban society and will allow him to design applied strategies within thenew social order he perceived. A decade later, in the 1970s, he co-edited with Raymundo CuervoThe Industry of Deconstruction, a work that they had prepared for the Habitat Forum -a UnitedNations conference on human settlements- intended to become an analytical instrument for theunderlying issues faced by contemporary life. But this would happen later on, when he wasTechnical Director of the National Institute for the Development of Community and PopularHousing (Indeco), as well as part of the Institute of Urban Action and Social Integration (Auris)and an advisor to the Ministry of Human Settlements and Public Infrastructure. Let us return tothe previous decade.Still in Rome, Eduardo answered -through the Mexican embassy in Italy- the call ofFernando Gamboa, a Mexican museographer, who was in need of an assistant to mount theexhibition Masterpieces of Mexican Art, which was being installed at the time, in 1961, at theHermitage Museum in Leningrad. This great exhibition of pre-Hispanic, colonial, and modern artfrom Mexico, which also included an abundant variety of Mexican crafts from the entire nation,had a big impact on his European journey. When Terrazas arrived in Leningrad, he discoveredthe quality, refinement and beauty of Mexican art and the effect was profound. Terrazas was ableto admire firsthand and as a whole, a representative set of folk art production from Mexico and aseries of pieces that, at the time, as the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico did not exist yet,were only known partially or through photographs. Together with Fernando Gamboa, Terrazaslearned not only to mount an exhibition, but also to value and present a collection of works thatembodied the artistic and creative richness of his native country. Following the Leningrad show,Terrazas traveled by train with the entire collection to Poland in order to present it at the NationalMuseum of Warsaw, where he again contributed to the exhibition mounting and design. From3
  4. 4. Warsaw, Terrazas headed to London, invited by a friend from Cornell, and there he worked at thearchitectural firm Howell, Killick, Partridge & Amis. During his stay in London, FernandoGamboa invited him to collaborate once again by mounting the exhibition Masterpieces ofMexican Art at the Petit Palais in Paris, with a catalogue written by Raquel Tibol, that wasinaugurated by General Charles de Gaulle in the spring of 1962.Terrazas decided to stay and live in Paris in order to complete his studies onprefabrication at the Centre Scientifique et Technique du Bâtiment, where he met GeorgeCandilis, an architect, urban planner and one of the closest collaborators of Le Corbusier, whoinvited him to join his staff at Candilis, Josic & Woods. It was there that Terrazas first came intocontact with the members of Team X, helping in the organization of their meeting at Royaumontin 1962. While in France, Terrazas also became acquainted with the French artistic movements ofthe time through the galleries René Drouin, Maeght and Denise René, where exhibitions wereheld on New Realism, Concrete Art, Art Brut, and Informal Art with works by Dubuffet, Fautrier,Wolf, Ernst, Miró, Picabia, Soto, Mata and Cruz Diez, among others.This experience outside Mexico, studying and working, enriched by his discovery of boththe artisanry and masterpieces of Mexican art and the European and American artistic movementsof the time, left a lasting mark on his work and gave him a deeper understanding of his country.When Terrazas returned to Mexico, he met architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, who proposed thathe become the Mexican commissioner at the New York World’s Fair of 1964-1965 and thus hewas entrusted the building of the Mexican Pavilion. Soon after having arrived in New York, hereceived an invitation to join Columbia University as a professor, where he taught at thearchitectural design workshop. In New York, he found himself again in a city with intense artisticlife and met architects, painters and designers with whom he visited the major museums and artgalleries. Before returning to Mexico, Terrazas worked with the architect and designer George4
  5. 5. Nelson. Doubtless, during his New York residence, Terrazas broadened his experience and hisknowledge of architecture, art, and design.It was then, that architect Ramírez Vázquez, at the time President of the OrganizingCommittee for the 19thOlympic Games, invited him to be the artistic director of the event, withthe objective of making Mexico known throughout the world, inform about the preparations,advances and activities prior to the Olympics and designing an urban environment tailored toMexico City. Given that these were the first Olympic Games organized by a developing country,the task was particularly challenging, because it was of great importance to show that Mexicowas not only capable of rising to the occasion but also to contribute meaningfully to the Olympictradition. To that end, Ramírez Vázquez brought him on board the Organizing Committee,together with Beatriz Trueblood -a major editor in New York who, in 1965, had published inMexico a book about the recently inaugurated Museum of Anthropology-, and bit by bit, workingas a team, they shaped the Program of Olympic Identity and Design, composed by theDepartment of Ornament and Urban Design, under the direction of Terrazas, and the Departmentof Publications, under the direction of Beatriz Trueblood.Through the Program of Olympic Identity and Design, intended to showcase a modernMexico of great historical richness, Terrazas and Trueblood succeeded in bringing together theMexican long standing cultural traditions and contemporary visual arts in a project that became alandmark in graphic design. The logo for the event, designed by Terrazas and Lance Wyman, wasinspired by a technique used by the Huichols –an ethnic group from northern Mexico- consistingon colored wool yarn stuck with wax over wooden boards. This technique, which the Huicholsuse to represent their cosmological vision, creates images based on concentric and ever-expanding lines (the yarn being simultaneously line and brush). The team gradually grew thanksto the invited designers, layout artists, writers and editors, some from abroad, who, under the5
  6. 6. guidance of Terrazas and Trueblood, produced over 16 million prints; selected the ornamentationand urban structures for Mexico City (posts, banners, maps); decorated sporting venues andpublic buildings (balloons, judas figures, banners, logotype sculptures, olympic cauldron);designed urban furniture (booths, screens, posts, billboards, signs); and created five systems ofsymbols: one for Services, one for Sports, one for the Cultural Olympics events, one for Arenas& Tickets, and one for the Official Olympics Program. The entire Program of Olympic Identityand Design was part of the XIV Milan Triennale in 1968 with a pavilion designed by Terrazas,who created a tridimensional-architectural version of the Mexican Olympics logo, offering insidean exhibition with a complete view of how Mexico was organizing to host the grand scale event.The official poster of the Olympic Games was chosen by Mildred Constantine for the graphic artsexhibition Word and Image that she organized at the MOMA in 1968.Terrazas’ work for the Games was not over after the competitions had ended; throughout1969, Terrazas and Trueblood continued working at the offices of Ramírez Vázquez, where theyedited the Olympic Memoirs, a series of five volumes that account for all aspects of the event.That same year, Terrazas worked on the exhibition Imagen Mexico, for the inaugurationof the Mexico City subway system. Presented all along the first line of the subway, was a vastvisual display that offered an integral image of the country; there were numerous photographs,some solarized and painted, that showed all of Mexico’s diversity -flora, fauna, industry, crafts,transportation, agriculture, ethnic groups, etc.-, installed in the light boxes along the hallways andin the future advertising spaces positioned on the platforms. A special poster was designed withthe words “Imagen Mexico” printed on mirrored paper intended to reflect back the spectator’simage. This poster was also included by Mildred Constantine in one of her renowned graphic artexhibitions at the MoMA in New York. The peak of this exhibition, at the grand InsurgentesAvenue roundabout, was an enormous serigraph mural covering the periphery of the plaza,6
  7. 7. depicting Mexico City’s urban life in lifesize format, where spectators and mural blended. Alsoin the plaza, one could go into the future commercial premises and experience the firstmultimedia exhibition in Mexico; in each one, there was a wall of 15 screens that showed theimages of the nation to the beat of music by mexican composers Moncayo and Revueltas, joiningthe images together at times to form a single image or dividing them into infinite intermittentmosaics. A year later, in 1970, Terrazas mounted for the Federal Electric Commission (CFE) akinetic spectacle in a similar vein, syncronizing electronic music and Bach compositions with 48projectors that explored the phenomenon of light. Both the subway and the CFE exhibitions wereaccomplished in collaboration with the engineer Gustavo Cota. That same year, Terrazasdesigned the logo of the 1970 World Soccer Cup held in Mexico.Between 1969 and 1971, Terrazas also worked as a professor giving two seminars at theUniversity of California at Berkeley, Limits to do and The ruralization of the urban and a seminarentitled The intense use of space at the CIDOC (Centro Intercultural de Documentación) foundedin Cuernavaca, Mexico by Ivan Illich, with whom he established a long standing friendship.During that period, Terrazas was already experimenting with geometry, playing with theformal relationships between graphic elements in countless drawings. He designed abstractgeometrical works that he then produced in the Huichol technique (yarn stuck with wax on woodboards) with Santos de la Torre, a Huichol who he invited to share his home, and together theylearned to elaborate Terrazas’ geometric patterns using this technique. Thus began the productionof works that compose the series Tablas which was exhibited in May 1972 at the Palace of FineArts in Mexico City, with the backing and enthusiasm of Jorge Hernández Campos, a poet whowas, at the time, head of the Department of Visual Arts of the National Institute of Fine Arts.Hernández Campos had already taken Terrazas’ Olympic balloons to the 6thParis Biennale in1969 as curator of the Mexican pavilion, and afterwards, following a visit to Terrazas’ studio7
  8. 8. -along with Rufino Tamayo- he decided to exhibit the entire series Tablas along with the seriesDeconstruction of an Image, where large wood frames examine the fragility of a total, uniqueimage through a construction based on parallel lines, which can be dismembered into pieces thatare itself autonomous, while conserving the memory of the set from which they emerged.The series Possibilities of a Structure began after this period in an endeavor tosystematize these formal games; the structure Terrazas had chosen would prove, over thefollowing ten years, to be an unending source of visual exploration. During the 1970s, hededicated himself to architecture and urban planning, while at the same time assembling a majorarchive of works, publications and exhibitions. The pieces he had exhibited at the Palace of FineArts toured South America -Chile and Venezuela- with an important addendum: his balloons.Since 1967, Terrazas had begun to explore the sculptural qualities of the balloon through theinstallation of an enormous, translucid globe in the Zócalo or Main Square of Mexico City and,during the Olympics, he multiplied its applications and uses. Later on, in the 1970s, he producedseveral series of balloon-sculptures in different formats, colors and geometric patterns thatplayfully delved into the space around them and interacted with the light and the spectators.In 1975, together with Arnaldo Coen, Terrazas mounted the exhibition Without knowing itexisted and unable to explain it at the Benjamin Franklin Library gallery. This exhibition turnedout to be the starting point for a series of works and actions oriented towards broadening our gazeby revealing the creativity and expressiveness of urban popular art. The interest of both artistscentered on revealing the aesthetic value of the commercial tactics visible in the shop windows ofdowntown Mexico City. They proposed that local shop owners transfer their display cases to theart gallery and fourteen of them agreed to participate, showing off their powerful commercialdisplays. Through this gesture of dislocation, Coen and Terrazas wanted to show the full potentialof their direct discourse, both playful and overwhelming, in the very act of battling for the8
  9. 9. consumer gaze. This exhibition achieved a clear approach to two worlds: the commercial worldof the street, and the commercial world of the art gallery, placing them on the same level andleaving it to our consideration to compare and linger over the strategies that come into play ingallery and shopwindow staging, with regards to the appreciation of the products being offeredand their assigned value. This action generated, moreover, an exceptional publication thatreproduced the photographs Terrazas had taken of these display cases, printed in the style ofmexican wrestling posters. The images were accompanied by short, playful texts written byTerrazas and Coen in collaboration with writer Gustavo Sainz who, using aphorisms and quotestaken out of context, synthesized the artists’ attitude towards the phenomenon of shop windowdisplay in the nation’s capital.That same year, Terrazas was asked to create a publication and an exhibition toaccompany the meeting of the Club of Rome, an international interdisciplinary think tankfounded in 1968 by Aurelio Peccei with the objetive of studying and analyzing the futurechallenges faced by humanity. This meeting, held in Guanajuato, Mexico in 1975, was organizedby Victor Urquidi, a Mexican economist member of the Club of Rome, and Luis Echeverría,former President of the Mexico. The task included the creation of visual material to render theClub of Rome’s report both intelligible and eloquent. The result was a codex-like publicationentitled Solidarity for Peace and Development containing graphics, images and photographs thatpicture the “predicament of mankind” as published in the two reports of the Club of Rome; TheLimits to Growth of 1972 and Mankind at the Turning Point of 1974, along with a compendiumof the historical development of the world and humanity and its situation at that time. The Codexalso included a design of the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States, which PresidentLuis Echeverría had proposed at the United Nations Assembly. A selection of the material fromthe Codex was then produced to be exposed in an exhibition entitled Everything Depends on9
  10. 10. Everything which included works that Terrazas had produced, once more on the thresholdbetween art and design, in order to visualize very specific concepts, including the seriesExponential Growth & Organic Growth.From that point onwards, Terrazas’ scope of activity expanded considerably and hisformer interest in integrated research regarding human modes of dwelling gave rise to urban andregional planning. Having already experienced urban design for the Olympics in Mexico City,Terrazas traveled to Tanzania as the Director of Technical Assistance provided by the Mexicangovernment through the Ministry of Human Settlements and Public Infrastructure for thedevelopment of a master plan for Dodoma, the new capital of Tanzania. The summary of ideasfrom this experience triggered the publication Dodoma is not a city. Dodoma is a capital. Uponreturning from Africa, he was charged with the design of urban furnishing, signaling and publicspace for the boulevards known as Axes in Mexico City (1978-1979), that included: an integratedsignaling system, circulation structure, sidewalk design, street lighting and maps, synchronizedtraffic lights as well as the landscape design, hedges and trees. In all of the numerous urbanplanning projects he has designed across Mexico (Monterrey, Tampico, Guanajuato, State ofMexico, among others), Terrazas implemented his studies of social spaces, communitydevelopment, and the possibilities for movement and rhythm in the public sphere.In 1980, Eduardo Terrazas along with economist Victor Urquidi, founded the TepoztlánCenter, which since then has periodically held meetings between academics and intellectuals,Mexicans and foreigners, with the objective of creating a dialogue for the analysis of themes thatare fundamental to Mexico and Latin America. Through seminars, this group of economists,politicians, sociologists, historians and anthropologists, where Terrazas is the only architect, forma multidisciplinary environment in order to address contemporay issues.At the same time, his artistic activity changed substantially as his work as an architect and10
  11. 11. urban planner intensified and multiplied. It was as if the geometry had been transferred toregional layouts and architectural blueprints, and in their place, he created organic acrylics anddrawings that saturate space with the successive rhythm of multiplication. His work from the1980s is marked by this meticulous gazing at elements that are isolated and repeated in reiterativesequences, as if only persistent representation would allow us to capture their unique qualities.This exercise in visual reiteration was not limited to his work on paper, which is veryabundant during that period. It also appears in his Multiplications, which are works that drawupon all kinds of everyday life objects procured mainly in Mexican markets. The marketcontinually fascinates Terrazas as a space for creativity: the positioning of products; thearrangement of stalls; the organization by zones, colors, and smells; all what Terrazas has dubbedthe intense layout. In these works, a single common daily object is repeated in compositions ormultiplications that intensify the saturation of space. Every set achieves the effect of emphasizingthe details that make every piece a unique work where assembly, repetition, superimposition,accumulation and the incrustation of an object over itself devoids it of its daily function andtransforms it into a symbol of itself, an emblem, an image. Consequence of this fascination arethe exhibitions Everyday Museum at OMR Gallery and Multiplications at Mobil Oil’s offices inMexico.During the 1990s, Terrazas continued to focus on the numerous urban planning andarchitectural projects that he was developing nationwide, to which he dedicated most of hisenergy. When he took up painting again, at the beginning the new century, his output was entirelynew. He has added to the accumulation and multiplication of elements, a practice from hisprevious work, a highly physical confrontation with large format canvases to which hesuccessively applies and removes materials in an intensification of layers and strata. This reflectsa long gestation process during which the work is substantially and gradually transformed as11
  12. 12. actions are added and subtracted while showing in the end, traces of itself, of the changes it hasexperienced and of all the complex strata that compose it. The use of acrylics and canvases in thismost recent stage is far from being exhausted and his production continues, as always, in parallelto his multidisciplinary life.Nuria Castañeda12