Monday, December 9, 2013

"Searching for Posada" Lecture at The Mexican Museum, San Francisco, CA December 14, 2013


Curator Jim Nikas to shed light on the life and death of famed Mexican artist.
          In celebration of the life of José Guadalupe Posada, The Mexican Museum is proud to present a special lecture by guest curator Jim Nikas entitled “Dialogos Gráficos and the Search for José Guadalupe Posada” on Saturday, December 14, 2013, 1-2:30 p.m. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Posada, the renowned Mexican artist. The lecture is free and open to the public.

While most widely known as the “grandfather of Mexican printmaking,” Posada is also famous for his Day of the Dead calaveras and his imagery’s powerful influence on other noteworthy artists, such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and the Taller de Grafica Popular, an artist's print collective formed in Mexico in 1937 to advance revolutionary social causes. Yet, little is known about the man himself. Was Posada a revolutionary? Did he fight against the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz? Did he really create 20,000 images in his lifetime? And how could someone of such talent and influence have been buried in an unmarked mass grave?

           Guest lecturer Nikas oversees one of the largest private collections of Posada’s work in the United States and is the producer of the soon-to-be released documentary about Posada’s life, “ART and
Revolutions.” His lecture will share new discoveries about the artist’s life and times, and explore and explode many of the myths that continue to permeate Posada’s life history. Nikas will also touch on the significance of The Mexican Museum’s current exhibit of Posada works, “Dialogos Gráficos.”

The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.







Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Posada's Calaveras Visit San Jose, CA Winchester Mystery House

Posada's calaveras visited the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA for their Dia de los Muertos observance. It was the first time for the Winchester to sponsor such an event. There was an altar and a variety of original images from the New World Prints Collection. Sarah Winchester might have found them disturbing as she believed that the spirits of the dead killed by the guns her husband created might come back to find her. Thanks to Posada's calavera images perhaps they did in some ways!

Monday, October 7, 2013

El Centenario Posada Lecture at Arteamericas Fresno, CA

Lecture on Posada and an update on the documentary at ArteAmericas 1630 Van Ness, Fresno, CA. There is a current exhibition showing Posada's work and complimentary commemorative exhibition celebrating Posada's work with artwork from 32 artists from the Instituto Grafica of Chicago.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Frida Kahlo and José Guadalupe Posada

Posada's art has influenced many artists over the years. One was Frida Kahlo. The images shown here in this blog posting show striking similarities. Here is a partial quote from an interview of Frida conducted back in 1933.
"I had gone up to the Barbizon-Plaza hotel to interview Frida Kahlo, who was the wife of Diego Rivera, and a great painter herself, a sort of demonic surrealist. That was when Rivera was doing those Rockefeller Center murals. Thumb-tacked all along the walls of the hotel suite were some very odd engravings printed on the cheapest kind of newsprint. "Jose Guadalupe Posada," Kahlo said, almost reverentially. "Mexican. 1852-1913." She told me that she had put the pictures up herself so she could glance at them now and then and keep her sanity while living in New York City. Some were broadsides. "They show sensational happenings that took place in Mexico City--in streets and in markets and in churches and in bedrooms," Kahlo said, "and they were sold on the streets by peddlers for pennies." --from the book Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell (1992).
Perhaps some of the images by Posada of disasters and the demonic elements present in many of the sensational broadsides made an impression on Frida. If she was not already familiar with Posada's images, being married to Diego Rivera may have helped as he had just a few years earlier in 1930 authored the Foreword about Posada in the Monografia Posada published by Francis Toor.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Posada Ilustrates Pancho Villa and Firing Squad

Posada sometimes used photographs as templates to create his illustrations. This allowed him a greater degree of control over the image. He could emphasize certain elements and also make the image more generic so it might be used over for a variety of stories that Vanegas Arroyo published. It also allowed his publisher the flexibility to see what news was current and then rehash it with its own artwork. In this example Pancho Villa is facing a firing squad. The image above left is from a halfsheet broadside published by Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. The image below is from the archives of the Hemeroteca Nacional in Mexico City, it is dated 1912, from the year before Posada's death. Note how efficiently Posada uses the space setting the image up in a way that draws the eye to Pancho Villa. In the photo there is a large amount of "useless" empty space to Villa's left.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Filming on Location in Mexico

Documentary director, Victor Mancilla, is seen here checking the scene for our recreation of Posada's workshop. Note the printing plates and trays of lead type on the left. Still used today as the they were over one hundred years ago in the time of Posada.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Searching for Posada: His Workshop on Calle Moneda

Posada's Taller  (Workshop) c.1899
The image to the left is the way Posada's workshop looked about 1899. It is one of two photo images we have of the artist. Posada is on the right and it is generally agreed that the young man is Posada's son Juan Sabino Posada Vela who died in 1900. In our search for Posada we now believe that we know the identity of the third person in the photo. In the image below we see historians Agustín Sánchez González and Helia Emma Bonilla Reyna in front of the workshop as it is today. It is about three blocks from Mexico City's zocolo.
Posada's ex-Taller 2013

En la Taller de Editor Antonio Vanegas Arroyo

For the last week we have been filming in Mexico City, Leon and several sites within the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. In this photo we see one of the printing presses that beginning in 1880, produced thousands of images for the Vanegas Arroyo publishing house. Many were illustrated by José Guadalupe Posada. Until his death in 2001, Arsacio Vanegas Arroyo carried on the family tradition of printing. On top of the press is a little paper mache calavera dressed a luchador (wrestler) as Arsacio was also a well known combatant in lucha libre circles. It was that connection to lucha libre that helped result in Arsacio's support of the Cuban Revolution. In addition, to the left and behind the little calaverita is a photo of Constancio S. Suarez who wrote many of the stories and texts that Posada illustrated for Vanegas Arroyo.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 20, 2013 is the Centenario of José Guadalupe Posada's Death

His work with the burin was great
Thousands of images he did create,
Calaveras and politicos he sent with a din
With novenas and songs to sing
To el gran monton of bones
Giving all homes
Including himself from poor health.

RIP don Lupe y muchas gracias.

José Guadalupe Posada and Russian Filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein

It might be said that the events of history are the stones which we of the present use to shape the world in which we live. During the 1920s and 1930s, the famed Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein discovered the images of José Guadalupe Posada who had passed away more than ten years earlier. At the time post-revolutionary Mexico was home to many Mexican artists and intellectuals—and also at least parttime to many ex-patriots including: Francis Toor, Jean Charlot, Upton Sinclair, Orson Welles, Katherine Anne Porter, Paul O'Higgins and Leon Trotsky—who were drawn to the sea change brought about by the upheavel resulting from the Mexican Revolution. Many cultural ideologies were challenged. Old was out and new thinking was called for in many areas of post revolutionary Mexico. During this time the renowned Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein came to Mexico to work on his film ¡Que Viva Mexico! Start watching at the Epilogo approximately 1:17:58.