Born in Guatemala and studied at the "Instituto de Artes y Artesanias" in Guatemala City and Queltzaltenango. From 1910 to 1914 he lived in Paris, and after traveling through Europe, he made his home in México where he became active in the Mexican mural painting school. In 1927 he abandoned his figurative style to became one of México first non-figurative artists. His later works formed a link to the Mayan world with geometric elements. He integrated into his paintings, indigenous "papel amate" (barkwood paper). Merida created numerous murals in México and Guatemala. In 1942 he taught at the North Texas State Teachers College in Denton, now University of North Texas. The works of Carlos Merida can be found in many major international museums.