The 1968 Mexico City Olympics are remembered for Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ ‘Black Power’ salute, Bob Beamon’s (altitude-assisted) almost 9-metre long jump and its now iconic logotype, a series of concentric lines that offered infinite variety and application.
It was designed by the Mexican artist, designer, urban planner, curator and architect Eduardo Terrazas, working with the American graphic designer Lance Wyman. (Such is the standing of the graphic system developed for the ’68 games that there are rival claims to it. The Terrazas and Wyman origin story seems the most credible though.)
Terrazas, now 79, is little known outside of Mexico; but his work and key role in the development of post-Luis Barragán Mexican modernism is finally getting the international recognition it deserves. His first solo exhibition in the UK has just opened at the Timothy Taylor gallery in London.
Terrazas studied architecture in Mexico and at Cornell and then prefab architecture in Paris (and worked later with Jean Prouvé). He taught architecture at Columbia and then Berkeley in the 1960s before returning to Mexico to work on the Olympics and wider urban planning. All the while he worked on his art, constantly experimenting with colour, geometry and line. You could add ethnographer to Terrazas’ tally of credentials due to his work with pre-Columbian craft techniques and Huichol craftsmen to create an ongoing series he calls 'Possibilities of a Structure’, explored in this new show – Terrazas and his artisan assistants applying yarn to large wax-coated wooden panels to create pieces that are ‘part Malevich and part macramé’, as Art Review neatly put it.