José Guadalupe Posada and the Early Mexican Penny Press
José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) was one of Mexico’s most influential political printmakers and illustrators. He produced an extensive body of imagery, from illustrations for children’s games to sensationalistic news stories. Posada is best known, however, for his popular and satirical representations of calaveras (skeletons) in lively guises, which have become associated with the Día de los Muertos celebrations. Posada’s prints shaped generations of Mexican artists, among them the muralists Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. This study contextualizes Posada’s work in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Mexico City, which was domoniated by the dramatic modernization of the country under the lenthy presidency of Porfirio Díaz and the subsequent Revolution of 1910. It considers a wide range of Posada’s career as an illustrator and printmaker in the capitol, focusing particularly on his work for the publisher Antonio Vanegas Orroyo. It also includes works by Posada’s contemporary, Manuel Manilla.
The more than 140 works featured in this study are grouped according to the following themes: modernization; devotional imagery, sensational events (crimes, scandals, moralizing tales); natural and man-made disasters; calaveras and the Day of the Dead; humor, stories, games, and songs; heroes and bandids; and nation and revolution. It includes a number of Posada’s most important images-Las Garbanceras, Don Quixote la primera, and El Purgatorio Artístico, and equally inventive but less well known works such as the comical Dialoguito da Mamá Tierra con D. Cometa Halley, El mosquito Americano, El fantasma de la catedral, and Una mujer qui dio a luz tres niños y quarto animales.
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