Monumento al trabajo
Escultura, mayo 1931
La Palmita Zona 5, Ciudad de Guatemala
También conocido popularmente como "El muñecón"

El pintor Carlos Mérida, el músico Jesús Castillo y el escultor Rafael Yela Günther,
Quetzaltenango, c 1920

Yela Günther, Rafael
(b Guatemala City, 18 Sept 1888; d Guatemala City, 17 April 1942).
Guatemalan sculptor. He was first trained by his father, Baldomero Yela Montenegro (1859–1909), who was a sculptor and marble-carver. While still very young he worked with the Venezuelan sculptor Santiago González, a former student of Auguste Rodin, then resident in Guatemala, and with the Italian Antonio Doninelli, who ran a bronze foundry workshop. He was also very good friends with the Guatemalan painters Carlos Mérida and Carlos Valenti (1884–1912) and with the Spanish Catalan painter and sculptor Jaime Sabartés (1881–1968), who later became Picasso’s secretary. His first important sculptures, both in Guatemala City, were monuments to J. F. Barrundia (1905–6) in the General Cemetery and to Isabel La Católica (1915).

Around 1921 Yela Günther went to Mexico, where he came into contact with the anthropologist Manuel Gamio, who directed his attention towards Maya and Aztec art. He also had the encouragement of Diego Rivera, who wrote enthusiastically of his work in El Demócrata (2 March 1924). One of his most important works of this period, a relief made in 1922 entitled Triptych of the Race, for the Museo Arqueológico in Teotihuacán, was demolished in the 1960s. After living in the USA from 1926 to 1930 he returned to Guatemala, settling there permanently, and produced his largest works, combining elements of sculpture and architecture. These include works in Guatemala City, notably a monument to the Leaders of the Independence (1934–5) and the mausoleum of the aviator Jacinto Rodríguez D. (1932), and in Quetzaltenango a monument to the national hero Tecún Umán (a re-creation of a large Maya stele) and a monument to President Justo Rufino Barrios (1941) in the main square. His outstanding sculptures on a smaller scale include the Supreme Sadness of the Defeated Race (bronze), a bust carved in wood of the jurist Salvador Falla, and Christ from a plaster of 1936 cast in bronze in 1947 (all Guatemala City, Mus. N. B.A.). Stylistically his works combine elements revealing the influence of Rodin and of Art Deco. He was Director of the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes for several years until his death.

C. C. Haeussler Y.: Diccionario general de Guatemala (Guatemala City, 1983), iii, pp. 1660–67
L. Luján Muñoz: Carlos Mérida, Rafael Yela Günther, Carlos Valenti, Sabartés y la plástica contemporánea de Guatemala (Guatemala City, 1983)
F. Albizúrez Palma: ‘Acercamiento a Yela Günther (1888–1942)’, Banca Cent., xxv (1995), pp. 105–20

Luján-Muñoz, Jorge: 'Yela Günther, Rafael', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy (Accessed 07/12/2002) <>

Monumento a Justo Rufino Barrios.
Quetzaltenango, 1941.


Escultura en bronce, 1947
Museo Carlos Mérida

Pinacoteca guatemalteca.
Página de la Literatura Guatemalteca.
Copyright © 1996-2006 Juan Carlos Escobedo. Todos los derechos reservados.
Copyright © 1996-2006 Juan Carlos Escobedo. Worldwide Copyrights.
Última revisión: 01/08/06
por Juan Carlos Escobedo Mendoza M.A