Sounds of Cultura (SOC): ¡Viva la Revolución! José Guadalupe Posada and the Taller de Gráfica Popular


Jose: IN SOUNDS OF CULTURA, S.O.C., THE PHOENIX ART MUSEUM HAS A NEW EXHIBIT ENTITLED VIVA LA REVOLUTION! JOSE GUADALUPE POSADA AND THE TALLER DE GRAFICA POPULAR. THE EXHIBITION SHOWCASES THE WORK OF POSADA -- A PRINT MAKER WHO IMPACTED THE DEVELOPMENT OF CRITICAL CRITIQUE IN MEXICAN ART. JOINING ME NOW IS VANESSA DAVIDSON, CURRATOR OF AMERICAN ART FOR THE PHOENIX ART MUSEUM. VANESSA WELCOME BACK TO HORIZONTE.

Davidson: THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Jose: IT’S ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU ON AND THIS IS ONE OF HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE. TELL US ABOUT POSADA.

Davidson: SO POSADA -- AS YOU MENTIONED A PIONEERING PRINT MAKER WHO -- BETWEEN, ABOUT, 1872 AND 1913 WHEN HE DIED, CREATED SOMEWHERE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF 20,000 IMAGES, 20,000 PRINTS. HE WAS VERY PROLIFIC AND HE WAS ALSO A PIONEER IN SPEAR HEADING CRITIQUE. AND FOR THAT REASON HE IS OFTEN KNOWN FOR A PIECE OF THE MEXICAN DOER, HE’S PROBABLY BEST KNOWN FOR HIS CRANEO WHICH OF COURSE IN SPANISH MEANS SKULL, BUT IN HIS CASE MEANT SKULL OR SKELETONS. AND HIS WORK RANGDE FROM THE HUMERUS TO THE SATIRACLE, TO THE CYNICAL. BUT, HIS WORK WAS SO INFLUENTIAL ON THE MEXICAN MURALISTS AS WELL AS THE SUBSEQUENT GENERATION OF ARTISTS, SUCH AS THOSE THAT WORKED IN THE GROUP THE TALLER DE GRAFICA POPULAR WHICH WE USUALLY TRANSLATE AS THE PEOPLE'S PRINT WORK SHOP IN THE 1940S.

Jose: AND HIS WORK, SOME OF THE BEST KNOWN PIECES ARE THOSE THAT SEEM TO HAVE A CYNICAL VIEW OF THE RICH.

Davidson: EXACTLY.

Jose: THESE ELGANT CATRINAS, SKELETON FIGURES, FANCY HATS, BEAUTIFUL DRESSES AND SO FORTH. WE HAVE GOT SOME IMAGES WE'LL SHOW AS WE'RE TALKING THAT CAPTURE SOME OF HIS BITING POLITICAL SARCASM, ALMOST.

Davidson: IT IS EXACTLY THAT, IT IS POLITICAL SARCASM. I THINK THAT ONE WAY TO THINK ABOUT POSADA’S WORK KIND OF HOVERS BETWEEN MANY DIFFERENT THRESHOLDS. IT COULD BE ABOUT VIRTUE OR VICE, IT COULD BE ABOUT LOVE OR HATE, IT COULD BE ABOUT TRAGEDY OR COMEDY. THE PRINT THAT JUST FLEW BY, THE GREAT LAST JUDGMENT, KIND OF MOCKS THE IDEA THAT SEVERAL PEOPLE HAD -- MANY PEOPLE HAD THAT THE WORLD WOULD END AT PRECISE 12:45 IN THE MORNING ON THE 14TH OF NOVEMBER IN 1899. SO FOR EXAMPLE, THAT IS ONE EXAMPLE OF THE WAYS IN WHICH HIS WORK WAS AT ONCE POLITICAL--PROFOUNDLY POLITICAL AND BITINGLY POLITICAL, WITH CARICATURES OF CORRUPT POLITICIANS BUT ALSO AT THE SAME TIME REFLECTED THE DAILY LIFE IN MEXICO. AND THAT IS WHAT WE FIND ALSO IN THE WORK OF THE TALLER DE GRAFICA POPULAR.

Jose: SO GIVE US THE NAME OF SOME OF THE OTHER FAMOUS ARTISTS WHO WHERE INVOLVED.

Davidson: AND SO IT WAS FOUNDED IN 1837 BY THREE ARTISTS, UM, AND WHAT THEY STROVE TO DO WAS REALLY TO REVIVE THE LEGACY OF POSADA BY CREATING AN ART, UM, WHICH THYE THOUGHT, IN ORDER TO SERVE THE PEOPLE, HAD TO REFLECT THE SOCIAL REALITY OF THE TIME, AND DO THIS IN BOTH FORM AND CONTENT. AND SO THEY WHERE VERY INTERESTED IN CREATIVE WORKS OF ART THAT WERE INEXPENSIVE, JUST AS POSADA’S WORKS COULD BE FOUND IN NEWSPAPERS, STREET GAZETTES, AND BROAD SHEETS THAT WHERE SOLD ON THE CORNERS IN THE EARLY 1900S IN MEXICO CITY. SO THEY CREATED PRIMARILY LINOLEUM AND WOOD BLOCK PRINTS AT THE BEGINNING. BUT WHAT EVOLVED INTO DOING WORK AND THEY WORKED ON CREATING PORTFOLIOS ALSO. THEIR FIRST PORTFOLIO WAS IN FACT DEDICATED TO POSADA’S WORK, UM, SHOWING WHAT A LEADING EXAMPLE HE WAS FOR THEM. BUT THERE ARE MANY ARTISTS THAT WERE AFFILIATED WITH T.G.P., BUT THERE WERE ALSO ARTISTS WHO WERE INVITED TO CREATE A PORTFOLIO OR CREATE A SERIES, SUCH AS ARTISTS OF THE MEXICAN MURAL MOVEMENT.

Jose: THE THREE GREATS.

Davidson: --THE THREE GREATS, EXACTLY.

Jose: AND THIS IS A TIME WHERE THE -- THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION -- WHILE TECHNICALLY THE FIGHTING HAS ENDED IS VERY MUCH CONTINUING IN TIRMS OF THE POLITICAL CLIMATE AND YOU SEE THAT IN SOME OF THE PIECES THAT PEOPLE PAINTED OR THE IMAGES THAT WERE CREATED.

Davidson: YOU CERTAINLY DO. AND RIVERA IN FACT WAS FRIENDS WITH POSADO. ONE THING THAT I THINK WAS STRIKING ABOUT THE WAY THAT HE REMEMBERED HIM WAS HE SAID THAT POSADA WAS SO CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH THE SPIRIT OF THE MEXICAN PEOPLE THAT PERHAPS ONE DAY HIS NAME WILL BE FORGOTTEN AND HE WILL JUST BECOME AN ABSTRACTION. BECAUSE POSADA WAS INSPIRED BY HIS SKELATONS AND SKULLS NOT ONLY BY DAY OF THE DEAD POPULAR FESTIVALS AND POPULAR TRADITIONS IN MEXICO, BUT ALSO BY PRECOLUMBIAN ART OF MEXICO, WHICH HE STUDIED AND VERY MUCH ADMIRED. WHAT YOU SEE IN THE MEMBERS OF THE GROUP IS THAT THEY CONTINUE EVEN INTO THE 1940S, THESE POST-REVOLUTIONARY IDEALS THAT -- THE THREE GREAT MURALS, AND ALL OF THE MURALISTS ENDEAVORED ITO TRANSLATE INTO ALLEGORY. THEY ARE VERY INTERESTED IN WORKER STRUGGLES, AND VERY INTERESTED IN PESANT RIGHTS, THE UNEQUAL SYSTEM OF LAND OWNERSHIP. THEY ARE VERY INTERESTED IN DENOUNCING EUROPEAN FASCISM, AS WELL AS U.S. IMPERIALISM. UM, AND SO, WHAT’S INTERESTING IN THIS PARTICULAR EXHIBITION IS THAT WE HAVE EIGHT PRINTS BY POSADA. ALL OF THE WORKS IN THE SHOW ARE FROM PHOENIX ART MUSEUM’S PERMANENT COLLECTION, AND WE ALSO HAVE 54 POSTCARDS THAT WERE CREATED BY THE TALLER DE GRAFICA POPULAR AROUND 1948, AND THESE WOULD HAVE BEEN SOLD NOT ONLY TO GENERATION REVENUE WHICH ENABLED THE GROUP TO GIVE FREE ART COURSES TO ANY MEXICAN PERSON FROM ANY SOCIAL CLASS, BUT THEY ALSO AFFORDED THEM EXPOSURE—INTERNATIONAL EXPOSURE-- AS WELL AS ACCLAIM. SO THE FACT WE HAVE THESE WONDERFUL POSTCARDS, WHICH IS SUCH AN UNLIKELY MEDIUM, AND YET THEY ENABLE US TO SHOW 54 STRIKING IMAGES, NOT ONLY OF DAILY MEXICAN LIFE, BUT OF THOSE, THE POLITICAL THEMES THAT THEY ENDEAVORED TO CONTINUE ON FROM WHAT POSADA HAD SPEARHEADED IN THE EARLY 1900S.

Jose: AND SPEAKING OF EXPOSURE, YOU AND I TALKED A LITTLE BIT OFF CAMERA ABOUT THE FACT THAT THERE’S A KIND OF A CONFLUENCE OF EXHIBITIONS GOING ON AND TO COME TO PHOENIX ART MUSEUM TO FOCUS ON MEXICAN ART.

Davidson: YES, IT'S A WONDERFUL TIME FOR OUR COMMUNITY TO SEE MEXICAN ART AT THE PHOENIX ART MUSEUM. WHAT THEY'LL FIRST SEE WHEN THEY FIRST ENTER THE GREEN BALLROOM LOBBY IS AN INSTALLATION OF 25,000 BLACK PAPER MOTHS AND BUTTERFLIES THAT ARE AFFIXED TO THE WALLS AND CEILINGS IN SWARMS BY THE MEXICAN ARTIST CARLOS. IT'S CALLED BLACK CLOUD. THEN BEGINNING ON OCTOBER 6TH, WE HAVE VERY EXCITING NEWS, THAT THE PHOENIX ART MUSEUM WILL BE HOSTING THE EXHIBITION CITY OF WATER, CITY OF FIRE, WHICH COMES TO US -- WAS ORGANIZED --

Jose: WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE PYRAMIDS OUTSIDE OF MEXICO CITY.

Davidson: YES.

Jose: WE'RE OUT OF TIME—

Davidson: YES---

Jose: BUT THEY’LL SEE THAT AND THEY’LL SEE THE POSADA EXHIBITION

Davidson: YES, THE POSADA EXHIBITION IS OPEN UNTIL MARCH 10TH.

Jose: THAT’S SO EXCITING. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

Davidson: THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

Jose: AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WATCHING ARIZONA PBS, AND HORIZONTE. I’M JOSE CARDENAS, HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

“¡Viva la Revolución! José Guadalupe Posada and the Taller de Gráfica Popular” is an exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum showcasing the work of Jose Guadalupe Posada, a printmaker who impacted the development of political critique in Mexican art.

Sponsor message:

Sponsor message:

Sign up to receive the Arizona PBS Insider

Get up-to-the-minute information about your favorite programs and learn more about Arizona PBS news and events.

Sarah Brightman at Comerica Theatre, Feb. 27, 2019

Sarah Brightman stops by the Valley of the Sun as part of her five-continent tour — and we'll get to hear her newest songs live and in person.

Donny Osmond's "One Night Only" concert airs Nov. 25

Donny Osmond: One Night Only

Join pop culture icon Donny Osmond for the definitive concert of his career Nov. 25 at 5:30 p.m. on Arizona PBS.

'Great Performances' returns to Broadway

Starting Monday, Nov. 5, at 8 p.m., "Great Performances" presents more of the Great White Way’s brightest stars with a new “Broadway’s Best” lineup.