By the mid-20th century, Latin American designers were aware of the international developments in architecture and design but at the same time were creating living environments in accordance with the cultural customs of the individuals using them. Sheltered from the overall destruction of World War II, Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela entered an expansive period of economic growth in the late 1940s and 1950s, which resulted in the modernization of the city and the extended application of international visual vocabularies.
Although each country had unique social, political, and economic specificities, modernization was fervently embraced as a vehicle for progress, and design was endorsed as an agent for development. Under these conditions, change started at home, and the domestic environment became a laboratory for experimenting with modern ideas.
Cristina Merchan, Tecla Tofano, and Maria Luisa Zuloaga de Tovar, all Venezuelan ceramists are amongst its principal exponents, just to name a few.
Cristina was initially trained as a painter, and later became known for her ceramics. Her work was shown internationally throughout her lifetime, including solo exhibitions at the Museo de Bellas Artes, Henriette Gomès gallery in Paris and at the Museu de Cerámica in Barcelona. Her later works consisted mainly of ovoid vases, glazed and fired at high temperatures. Merchán is distinguished by her glazes of subtle tonal variations that are laid over surfaces alternately smooth, textured, or incised with simplistic geometric patterns. Her personal collection of works is now housed at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the Louvre in Paris.
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