Graphic Witness: visual arts & social commentary
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Leopoldo Méndez

credit: information and images
for Leopoldo Méndez
courtesy of Robert Healy.
photo of Mendez
Méndez at work at the
Taller de Grafica Popular, 1944.
Michael Ricker's essay on TGP

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The Letter, c. 1942
The Cock Fight, c. 1951
El Dueno de Todo, 1947
Fusilamiento, 1950 "Firing Squad" A Portrait of Posada in His Shop, 1956

detail: book cover Incidentes Melodicas del Mundo Irracional by Juan de la Cabada. 40 illustrations by Leopoldo Méndez. A limited edition of 1200 published by La Estampa Mexicana, 1944.
serpent and song

Juan de la Cabada adapted a Mayan story of some fairly complex dealings between a snail, an anteater, a snake, a deer and the villainous zopilote (buzzard) who gets hung from a tree at the end. In Spanish, with some Maya sentences, some songs with music provided.

right: page 14 with score of song, from de la Cabada's book.
En Nombre de Cristo, a 1939 portfolio of 7 lithographs.

When the new constitution was written in 1917, the anti-clerical revolutionary Mexican government sought to enact and enforce land reform measures, with an eye to benefiting the rural population, usually the poorest of the poor in a country that was economically weak and torn by a century of revolution. This meant a redistribution of church wealth, much of it held in the form of land.

The cristeros ['soldiers for Christ'] were in the main rural peasants, conservative and devout Catholics, who if faced with the hard choice, supported the church and the status quo rather than the revolutionary government's attempts at land reform. They were aided and supported by pre-revolutionary elites, the wealth land owners, who for their own economic reasons were against land reform measures. Violence took lives on both the progressive and conservative sides of this issue in the 1920s and 1930s.

Méndez made this portfolio of seven lithographs in memory of 200 rural school teachers, killed between 1936-1938 by the cristeros. Scans of the actual En Nombre de Cristo [In the Name of Christ] portfolio are supplied here courtesy of Michael Ricker. For more detailed information on these complex times and issues, see Don Mabry's historic text archive.

additional information:
Deborah Caplow, Leopoldo Méndez: Revolutionary Art and the Mexican Print, University of Texas Press, Austin Texas, 2007.

An album of TGP's first 12 years, 1937-1949, including work by Méndez, one of TGP's founders, and additional work by Mexican artists who visited and worked with Taller de Gráfica Popular

TGP section of the Chris Mullen site, Visual Telling of Stories

A virtual portfolio in homage to Leopoldo Méndez

Carrillo Azpeitia, Rafael. Leopoldo Méndez: Dibujos, Grabados, Pinturas. Mexico City: Fondo Editorial de la Plastica Mexicana, 1984.

Prignitz-Poda, Helga. El Taller de Grafica Popular en Mexico 1937-1977. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, 1992.

Reyes Palma, Francisco. 1994. Leopoldo Méndez: El Oficio de Grabar Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1994.

Codex Méndez catalogexhibition catalog: Jean Makin, (editor) and Jules Heller (essay).
Codex Méndez: prints by Leopoldo Méndez (1902-1969).
Arizona State University Art Museum.
co-curators Jules Heller and Jean Makin, February 20-May 30, 1999.

Please note: All images in Graphic Witness are for personal enjoyment or educational use. Any other use is prohibited.

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