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A LUIS BARR AGA N RETRO SPECTIVE E X HIBI T IO N C ATA LO G 2014


L IF E O F LUIS BARR AGA N In-depth retrospective put together by the Barragan Foundation.


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A POETIC VISION

T I M ELIN E

ENTERED INTO UNIVERSIDAD DE GUADAR AJALA, MAJORING IN CIVIL ENGINEERING. IN 1923, HE GR ADUATED FROM SCHOOL

BORN IN LANDLORD FA MILY IN GUADALAJAR A

1902

1919

1935

MOVED TO MEXICO CITY. HE DESIGNED THE ARCHITECTURE FOLLOWING INTERNATIONAL STYLE UNTIL 1940

1940

STARTED DESIGNING THE FIRST HOUSE OF HIS OWN [HOUSE OF ORTEGA] IN MEXICO CITY AND COMPLETED IN 1943.

1949

LAUNCHED AN URBAN PROJECT TO BUILD RESIDENTIAL AREAS IN EL PEDREGAL DE SAN ANGEL, A LAVA PLATEAU OUT IN THE SOUTH OF MEXICO CITY.

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AFTER STAYING IN NEW YORK FOR A COUPLE OF MONTHS, HE TOOK THE SECOND TRIP TO EUROPE. HE ATTENDED A LECTURE BY LE CORBUSIER IN PARIS AND LEARNED MODERNISM ARCHITECTURE.

STARTED HIS CAREER AS AN ARCHITECT, MAINLY ON DWELLING IN GUADALAJARA COMPLETED HOUSE OF CRISTO AND HOUSE OF GONZALEZ LUNA.

927

1929

1957

1931

1980

DESIGNED SATELLITE TOWER IN CENTRAL ISLAND IN HIGHWAY, WORKING TOGETHER WITH A SCULPTOR, MATHIAS GOERITZ.

1988

DIED IN HOUSE AT 86

WON THE PRITZKER ARCHITECTURE PRIZE.


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A POETIC VISION

A tribute to Mexican architect Luis Barragan (1902 - 1988), one of the 20th century's major Latin American architects, has been paid in a comprehensive retrospective put together by the Barragan Foundation in cooperation with the Museum of Modern Art. His poetic architectural language achieved international attention and recognition latest when he was awarded the Pritzker Prize the Nobel Price for architecture - in 1980. This exhibition gave in-depth access to the many facets of Barragan's work, with many original documents from the Barragan Foundation's archives on show for the first time; it also brought out the fundamental thrust of his architectural development and illustrated the role he played in Mexico and the world context. The exhibition aimed to put across a new, more discriminating view of Barragรกn's oeuvre and personality, in particular by presenting his interpretation of architecture, his work methods, the contemporary cultural environment and his links to international modernism. Barragan


who is known mainly for his masterful colour and spatial compositions was also spotlighted as a landscape architect and innovative investor. Using plans, sketches, photographs and models, the retrospective covered a representative selection of buildings which were completed as well as projects which were not executed. The comprehensive documentation left by the Mexican photographer Armando Salas Portugal provided the Barragan Foundation with further original documents that reflected Luis Barragรกn's work as seen by a contemporary.

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COLO R

A POETIC VISION

Architect Luis Barragan was not afraid of color.  In fact he liked color in huge expanses and interesting patterns, all juxtaposed with shifting angles and light. He was a man of magenta and cobalt blue, adobe wa l ls, lat t ices of warm summer yellow, sunset pink alcoves, all on a grand architectural scale.   H i s v i v id s en suou s c olor, space and utilization of light was a bold mix of Mexican and European style born of his well traveled life.


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A POETIC VISION


Much like his color, Barragan was a complex man influenced by his friends, family, his education,  travels, and spirituality. Baragan’s parents were wealthy Mexican aristocrats. He grew up riding horses on a sprawling ranch in Michoacan, a region known for its vernacular architecture. Barragan attended  the Escuela Libre de Ingenieros and in 1923 earned his degree in engineering. Upon  graduation he traveled for two years  throughout Morocco, Spain and France. It was during these travels, experiencing a new world abroad, that a spark for architecture really took hold of him. When he returned to Guadalajara in 1927 he arranged commissions to build several large apartment buildings and a dozen Moroccan-influenced private residences in downtown Guadalajara.

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A POETIC VISION

In his early commissions he mixed the styles from abroad into his native mexican architecture and used color timidly assigning it to minor elements; lattice screens, balustrades, and doors. His palette was dominantly blue, white and red. But upon his return from Europe in 1930, where he met with exiled Mexican political muralist Jose Clement Orozco, Sw iss bor n a rch itect L e C orbusier a nd  French la ndscape architect Ferdinand Bac, his practice began to bloom.  These introductions made a powerful impression on Barragan From Orozco, he experienced the power of  dramatic color on  a large scale.  From Le Corbusier he learned about t he modernist style, and the concepts of the house as a machine.  From Bac, he was exposed to the art of landscape and the ideas that gardens should be enchanted places for meditation.


“SERENITY IS THE GREAT AND TRUE ANTIDOTE AGAINST ANGUISH AND FEAR, AND TODAY, MORE THAN EVER, IT IS THE ARCHITECT’S DUTY TO MAKE OF IT A PERMANENT GUEST IN THE HOME, NO MATTER HOW SUMPTUOUS OR HOW HUMBLE. THROUGHOUT MY WORK I HAVE ALWAYS STRIVED TO ACHIEVE SERENITY, BUT ONE MUST BE ON GUARD NOT TO DESTROY IT BY THE USE OF AN INDISCRIMINATE PALETTE.”

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A POETIC VISION

With the help of these contemporaries, by the early 1940’s Barragan had crafted his personal definition of Mexican International Style. It was a blending of the foreign with the familiar.  He would not sacrifice beauty for functionalism. He refused to subscribe to the idea of “the house as a machine”. He would design “emotional architecture,” places where people could feel and think.  He would use pre industrial materials like adobe and wood timbers from Mexico’s vernacular architecture and integrate sensuous colors into his designs to give dimension to space and add “a touch of magic.”


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A POETIC VISION


By the late 1940’s Barragan was using fine arts techniques and painterly placement of color in architectural designs to create pictorial depth,  and enhance the experience of  light shadow and surprise.  His white walls were off set by a wide range of tones: brilliant yellow, pink, fuchsia, magenta, vermillion, cadmium red, indigo, cobalt, sapphire, lilac and deep purple.  Barragan’s colors were not arbitrary but rooted in how his culture experienced the world. “Colours that blaze in the Mexican sun have always been exuberantly featured in everyday life and rituals.  These colors restore the spirits, of our people, for whose retinas supreme beauty vibrates with the more audacious values and contrasts of tropical colours, of the variegated colors of tropical plants and birds.”

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A POETIC VISION

One cannot observe Barragan’s work without appreciating his reverence for the mystery and power of color to elevate the human experience.  To him the colors were more than just another design element in the building process. He took color seriously, and he wanted his buildings to take it seriously too. years later he received the prestigious Pritzker Prize, architectures equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Well deserved for a man who not only brought color back in the forefront of architectural concerns but also help define modern Mexico, a place new and thriving and deeply connected to its roots.


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THE ART OF SEEING

A POETIC VISION

It is essential to an architect to know how to see: I mean, to see in such a way that the vision is not overpowered by rational analysis. And in this respect I will take advantage of this opportunity to pay homage to a very dear friend who, through his infallible aesthetic taste, taught us the difficult art of seeing with innocence. I refer to the Mexican painter Jesus [Chucho] Reyes Ferreira, for whose wise teachings I publicly acknowledge my indebtedness. And it may not be out of place to quote another great friend of mine and of the Arts, the poet Carlos Pellicer: Through sight the good and the bad we do perceive unseeing eyes souls deprived of hope.


BEAUTY

The invincible difficulty that the philosophers have in defining the meaning of this word is unequivocal proof of its ineffable mystery. Beauty speaks like an oracle, and ever since man has heeded its message in an infinite number of ways: it may be in the use of tattoos, in the choice of a seashell necklace by which the bride enhances the promise of her surrender, or, again, in the apparently superfluous ornamentation of everyday tools and domestic utensils, not to speak of temples and palaces and even, in our day, in the industrialized products of modern technology. Human life deprived of beauty is not worthy of being called so.

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A POETIC VISION


GARDENS

In the creation of a garden, the architect invites the partnership of the Kingdom of Nature. In a beautiful garden, the majesty of Nature is ever present, but nature reduced to human proportions and thus transformed into the most efficient haven against the aggressiveness of contemporary life. Ferdinand Bac taught us that “the soul of gardens shelters the greatest sum of serenity at man’s disposal,� and it is to him that I am indebted for my longing to create a perfect garden. It will appear obvious, then, that a garden must combine the poetic and the mysterious with a feeling of serenity and joy. There is no fuller expression of vulgarity than a vulgar garden.

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ARCHITECTURE

A POETIC VISION

My architecture is autobiographical, as Emilio Ambasz pointed out in his book on my work published by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Underlying all that I have achieved, such as it, I share the memories of my father’s ranch where I spent my childhood and adolescence. In my work I have always strived to adapt to the needs of modern living the magic of those remote nostalgic years. The lessons to be learned from the unassuming architecture of the village and provincial towns of my country have been a permanent source of inspiration. Such, for instance, the whitewashed walls; the peace to be found in patios and orchards; the colorful streets; the humble majesty of the village squares surrounded by shady open corridors. And as there is a deep historical link between these teachings and those of the North African and Moroccan Villages, they too have enriched my perception of beauty in architectural simplicity.


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Barragan