José Guadalupe Posada and the Taller de Gráfica Popular: Mexican Popular Prints
Born in the state of Aguascalientes, Mexico, Posada demonstrated an early talent for drawing, taught lithography, and made a living as an illustrator of magazines, books, and commercial products. In 1888 he moved to Mexico City to join the printing shop of Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. It is there that Posada produced thousands of illustrations for popular broadsheets, some dedicated to sensationalistic themes ranging from heinous murders to natural and man-made disasters, and others to daily life in turn-of-the-century Mexico. Posada's imagery was aimed at the urban working classes, shedding light on the struggles of the underdog and the downtrodden while exposing the habits of Mexico's middle and upper class members to his sharp satirical wit. Posada created the bulk of these broadsheets under the regime of the Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz, keeping his satire in check to minimize the risk censorship or imprisonment.
Posada's impact on the work of the TGP will be highlighted in the exhibition. Several TGP artists acknowledged Posada as having a strong influence on their work, and were clearly inspired by his ability to reach the masses through the medium of printmaking and his unique, dramatic style of representing both extraordinary and ordinary elements of everyday life in Mexico.
Founded in 1937 by Leopoldo Méndez and other members of a dissolved artists' collective, the TGP used the graphic arts as a means of educating and raising the social and political consciousness of the largely uneducated rural working classes. Artists of the TGP were political activists bound by a common allegiance to the social justice and agrarian reform goals of the Mexican Revolution. TGP artists produced hundreds of prints, posters, handouts, and leaflets representing a myriad of political causes. Included in the exhibition are striking images focused on denouncing fascism, imperialism, and the oppression of the peasant classes, and on promoting workers rights, literacy campaigns, and oil expropriation.