The Mexican printmaker José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) considered the “Father of Modern Mexican Art,” received no formal art training. Despite humble beginning, Posada’s iconography and political ideology have significantly shaped Mexican popular art and influenced generations of artists. Posada’s depictions of calavera provide an early example of a Mexican artist drawing inspiration from the country’s pre-Columbian roots. This embrace of Mexico’s pre-Columbian legacy was unprecedented and countercultural to the country’s ruling class at the time. Posada’s art is a window into Mexico during a critical time of history and national development.
Posada is best known for his illustration of calaveras [stylized skeletons] published in Mexican broadsides for satirical presses. Broadsides were ephemeral street literature sold locally for pennies to the masses. Despite their informal nature, broadsides were an important form of communication. They provided critical commentary on the political events of the day otherwise censured in mainstream presses. Currently, satirical political commentators like Stephen Colbert and John Stewart are examples of informal but influential media outlets. Likewise, in mid-nineteenth century Mexico, the Venga Arroyo press, where Posada worked, aimed to both inform and entertain the general public on relevant current events.
Explore the Broadside of José Guadalupe Posada in the Latin American Broadside and Pamphlet Collection, a joint project of Area Studies and the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at The Ohio State University Libraries. These items are available for advanced study and research in the Jack and Jan Creighton Special Collections Reading Room (Room 105 in William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library). We welcome opportunities to share this collection with students, faculty and staff. For more information please contact Dr. Eric Johnson, Lead Curator of Rare Books & Manuscripts Library or Pamela Espinosa de los Monteros, Latin American Studies Librarian.
See a selection from the Latin American Broadside and Pamphlet Collection
- Calavera del drenaje : el mérito día de finados todos los que se restiraron por causa del drenaje, reunidos en solemnísima sesión allá entre las oscuras y hediondas coladeras, cada uno habla lo siguiente http://library.ohio-state.edu/record=b8055088~S7
- ¡Ya llegó la calavera, de su viaje extraordinario, vino á ver muy placentera, las fiestas del centenario! http://library.ohio-state.edu/record=b8055115~S7
- Rebumbio de calaveras de catrines y borrachos, de viejos y de muchachos, de gatos y garbanceras http://library.ohio-state.edu/record=b8055150~S7
- Rebunvio de calaveras de catrines y borrachos, de viejos y de muchachos, de gatos y garbanceras http://library.ohio-state.edu/record=b8055212~S6
- Calavera de la penitenciaria http://library.ohio-state.edu/record=b8055166~S6
- *La calavera amorosa : calaveras á montón, de muchachas casaderas, que se fueron al panteón, a volverse calaveras http://library.ohio-state.edu/record=b8000257~S6