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The Animal de Pedregal is a 1951 public sculpture by Mathias Goeritz. Architect Luis Barragán commissioned the work to stand in a garden at the entrance to the Jardines del Pedregal neighborhood. Pedregal was only then being developed. Over the next 15 years it would serve to showcase the finest residential works of nearly every great architect in the country.
Goeritz met Barragán soon after arriving in Mexico from his native Germany two years earlier in 1949. Barragan requested sculptural models specifically to adorn the Plaza de las Fuentes, a main entrance to the complex. Goeritz presented a number of wooden models he’d been carving. The “snake” model chosen is today in the collection of the Museo Amparo in Puebla.
Both works, the wooden model, and the final concrete cast, provide a good glimpse of the German expressionist in the early work of Goeritz. He’d move on by the end of the decade to the much more abstract and geometric work for which the world remembers him today. But the public, and salespeople, immediately embraced, and even elevated the Animal de Pedregal to serve as an icon representing the entire area.
Some 70 years later, the sculpture has been restored, even after so much of the greater neighborhood has changed. It seems to stand, today, as a reminder, as much as a wounded defender. Perhaps the work’s relevance has only increased over these many years.