|El Mosquito Americano. An illustration and verse critical |
of U.S. imperialism where the U.S. is likened to a mosquito.
He moved to a new town and set up a print shop, where he became involved in commercial work, book illustration, and printing posters of religious and historical figures. He also taught lithography at a local school. When the town was flooded in 1888, he relocated to Mexico City. He got work at a publishing company of the famous liberal journalist Ireneo Paz, whose grandson is the Nobel Prize-winning author, Octavio Paz.
|Corrido de la vida de Santanón (1911). Pictoral broadside with an |
image and corrido narrative ballad addressing the life of
Santana Rodríguez (Santamón) - a Mexican Robin Hood-style
bandit in the state of Veracruz during the Porfirian era
who was eventually captured by rurales (campesinos ).
|El Dulcero Mexicano. This is the cover|
for a 16 page chapbook containing
recipes for Mexican desserts, depicting
a man wearing an apron, making sweets
in a kitchen.
In 1892, he went to work for Antonio Vanegas Arroyo, a publisher of newspapers, periodicals, and chapbooks for the general public. These were cheap and distributed by the thousands, although not many have survived. Because they were illustrated even the illiterate could understand them. During this time Posada moved away from lithography, using instead zinc, wood and type metal for the purpose of a cheaper way of printmaking. Posada worked prodigiously for Arroyo and on his own, and had to open two more workshops. Although he was never considered a “fine” artist, his work was important to the general public, giving historians a nice glimpse into their lives and thoughts. He never went to an art academy, having learned his skills through apprenticeships, so was not regarded a “real” artist by his contemporary art world.
|José Guadalupe Posada by Leopoldo Méndez (1960). An offset lithograph from the portfolio |
450 Years of Struggle: Homage to the Mexican People honoring Posada, who initiated the
printmaking tradition in Mexico. Here he is depicted in his workshop capturing the scene of
military oppression taking place outside of his window.
|Untitled (Guadalupe after Posada), Rafael López Castro, 1984.|
This serigraph is based on Posada's A Nuestra Señora de
Guadalupe showing her surrounded by four medallions that
illustrate her apparitions. Besides adding color to the original
black and white print, Castro substituted the image of
Emiliano Zapata for the supporting angel.
The Porfirio Díaz dictatorship was the target of a number of authors and illustrators who delivered anti-establishment messages and cartoons to the public. Díaz was originally a liberal and progressive, but during his 35-year dictatorship he focused on the elite landowners and ignored the underprivileged lower classes. Posada was a very outspoken critic of the Díaz government, and used his skills in political satire. He supported Emiliano Zapata, and portrayed him as a noble hero. Using the Dia de los Muertos festivities as a theme, Posada staged shows with puppet skeletons who were dressed in the latest fashions, emulating the rich. His shows and artwork used macabre humor to skewer politics and the elite class, and he was jailed several times for these satires.
Forgotten by the time of his death, he received some international attention in the 1920s when the French artist Jean Charlot discovered his work. Diego Rivera and the muralist José Clemente Orozco claimed Posada as an influence, as well as other more modern artists. Posada was given a pauper’s burial, and his bones were eventually dug up and dispensed with. Sadly, the man most associated with Dia de los Muertos was not and can never be honored at a gravesite during this commemoration. I chose to honor him with this post.
|Despotados al Valle Nacional. Indigenous |
men and women are being herded
by men in military uniforms towards a train.
(Images courtesy of the University of New Mexico’s
Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections)