German artist Mathias Goeritz found plenty of ways to unsettle the luminaries of Mexican modern art. Arriving to Mexico by way of Spain in 1949, Goeritz produced sculptures, architectural forms, paintings, and manifestos, many of which were overtly polemical in defying artistic convention. In Mathias Goeritz: Modernist Art and Architecture in Cold War Mexico, art and architectural historian Jennifer Josten shows how Goeritz challenged and eventually helped shift the aesthetic expression of Mexican state politics, which prominent muralists, such as Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros, had initially legitimized with social realism, beginning in the 1920s. Goeritz participated in political battles fought through public art in midcentury Mexico, a central arena that we can better understand through his work.

As its title suggests, Mathias Goeritz is an “artist's monograph,” and it examines larger cultural and political questions through the story of...

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