October 28, 2012

REPOST: José Guadalupe Posada

I had posted this last year, in honor of one of my very favorite artists and printmakers. While I'm gearing up for The Politics of Politics, Part Deux, I will keep your mind occupied with my love of this very important man. xo Victoria

This being November 2—Día de los Muertos—I thought it only proper to celebrate the work of one of my all-time, very favorite artists, printermakers and general smarty-pants/clever guy—Señor José Guadalupe Posada (click). I've been writing this post in my brain for a week, but alas, this one will be painfully brief.

I think everyone is familiar with his work—whether they know it or not. Known as, The Father of Mexican Printmaking, he was born in 1852. At the age of 16, he begain his apprenticeship with local printer, José Trinidad Pedroza. It is here where he learned to create his first lithographic prints. He later moved on to specialize in engravings, and finished his career/life working with his publisher, Antonio Vanegas Arroyo, (click to see images of Posada's work used on his Galería de Teatro Infantil pamphlets) until his death in 1913.

Aside from his technique, what drew me to his work was the fact that he really was the first one to create such imagery. The ubiquitous Calaveras (skulls) that I remember from my super-early days in Southern California, were all initially created by him. His imagery was political, smart and flat-out cheeky. I'm citing this web page (click) with this blurb:

Posada's prints cover an amazing range of imagery. National events, disasters, miracles, abnormalities, executions, illustrations to popular songs (corridos), broadsides and street gazettes (gaceta callejera) cover a large portion of his artistic oeuvre. As well, his notorious 'Calaveras' have permanently been placed at the summit of Mexican artistic expression. By means of the Calaveras (Spanish for skulls or skeletons), Posada mimed practically every human folly. In a very strong way, Posada is to Mexico what Daumier, Goya and Hogarth are to their countries. Masters of the succeeding generation, such as Rivera and Orozco, were deeply influenced and indebted to Posada's art.

Diego who? I know—not cool as without Diego, I would not have learned about Frida Kahlo (click).

I have been thinking a lot about Posada's work, lately. I think all citizens can admit that the current political climate is both exciting, and maddening—all rolled-up into one. I think that We as a people have made so much progress, and then I look at this man's work brilliant work, and I consider that perhaps we have not:

Here is an image of the Don Quixote Calavera engraving done around 1905. The tireless Calavera represents the poor while storming through the minority of the wealthy. Sound familiar?

So, tonight, Sr. Posada, I will light a candle in your honor. Respectfully yours, Victoria

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