José Guadalupe Posada, an ingenious and original artist, lived during one of the most turbulent times in Mexico. He knew how to capture the essence of this turbulence in his lithographs to the point that they became the icon of Revolutionary Mexico.
Posada was born in Aguascalientes in 1853, and as a child, he learned the techniques of grabado and lithography in Trinidad Pedroso’s Workshop of Popular Graphics. In 1871, he began to collaborate as an illustrator for El Jicote, which was published in his native land, where his sarcastic style had already begun to emerge.
It’s possible that because of political persecution he was forced to move to León, Guanjuato, where he gave classes at a high school. There he built his own workshop and quickly became famous in his field.
He moved to Mexico City in 1888 and began 25 years of lithographic and “grabado” production, collaborating for several newspapers and flyers. In all of these cartoons, Posada satirized governmental abuses and revealed all different types of secrets and gossip about the families favored by the Porfirista regimen (the period when the Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz rules). Posada immortalized both important events and everyday life in his work, but not only that…
Posada also made one of the most ancestral myths of the Mexican culture famous: death. From the ancient cultures that were established in the Valle de México to the mexicas, every civilization has taken a very special interest in death. It wasn’t sadness or pain, but a mystical influence – magical in the way that it became a friend, a faithful confidante, a mysterious conqueror.
Posada gave it a face, with a sarcastic, joking touch. It was through his art that the Catrina and later the Calaca were born. Both feminine personalities are famous icons of death and the top creations of Posada.