The Carnegie Arts Center is opening a major exhibition of works by one of Mexico’s most influential artists, José Guadalupe Posada. The exhibition, “Posada and the Mexican Penny Press,” will be on view from Saturday to Dec. 30.
As a printmaker and illustrator, Posada produced an extensive body of imagery, from illustrations for children’s games to sensationalistic news stories that appeared in a variety of inexpensive publications marketed to the country’s growing middle- and working-classes. He is best known for his popular and satirical representations of calaveras (skeletons) in lively guises that were featured prominently on broadsides published for the annual Day of the Dead celebrations.
Posada, born in 1852, spent the most of his life working in Mexico City, producing a vast array of images gaining a well-earned reputation for his inventive and striking designs. He had remarkable facility as a printmaker and as an illustrator. Well-versed in the elegant European style of lithographic printmaking, Posada was perhaps most successful when he worked more coarsely in relief and engraving. He combined these printmaking skills to create imagery that was rooted in quality draftsmanship and expressed through a forceful, bold technique. Although Posada’s total graphic output is difficult to measure precisely, his works likely number in the several thousands.
Posada died in 1913 and was buried in a pauper’s grave. Although he was little remembered in the years immediately following his death, Posada’s importance in the history of graphic arts in Mexico was recognized in the 1920s by artist and writer Jean Charlot, who championed him and played a key role in preserving, collecting, and publishing much of the artist’s work. Posada’s prints shaped generations of Mexican artists, among them the muralists Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco.
This exhibition features a wide range of prints and print media by Posada and his contemporaries, including calaveras, chapbooks, political prints, devotional images, and representations of natural disasters and sensational events.
The exhibition and tour were developed by the Trout Gallery at Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.
Admission to the exhibit is $5 for general admission and free for Carnegie Arts Center members and children 12 and younger.
Hours at the Carnegie Arts Center are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday;10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.