Thursday, February 3, 2011

Jose Guadalupe Posada and the Klu Klux Klan

Two images were joined together to form one for this unflattering look at the Klu Klux Klan. The large calavera on the left was cut from the broadside entitled Gran Calavera Electrica, it is signed in the plate by Posada. The portion on the right with the klansman in the white sheet is an unsigned addition and likely not by Posada. Although the Klu Klux Klan formed in the US in the 1860s, its influence in Mexico has been noted beginning around 1915 and into the early 1920s. The Mexican version of the KKK (unlike the racist based US KKK), was a group of upper-class men that adopted KKK clothing to remain anonymous with the idea that they would rout out corruption as an activist organization. One leading newspaper, Excelsior, battled against the group taking the position that crimes were being committed behind identity concealing sheets and that even if there were just intentions, the ultimate result was increased crime. As an aside, the KKK were active mainly in the southern US, but as well as in San Diego during the 1920s where some records show evidence of its interaction with Mexicans coming to the US for work.This broadside was satirizing the Mexican based KKK, calling them out as brave while they hid behind sheets. It was likely printed after Posada's death by Blas Vanegas Arroyo, possibly in the early 1920s (1923?) but its exact date is unknown. Regardless, it shows the reuse of Posada's artwork for social commentary.

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