Posada's Corridos in Steel

With her beautiful hat and welcoming smile, she has become one of the best-known women in all
of Mexico. Her name is Catrina, or more properly, La Calavera Catrina (The Elegant Skull) and she is an icon in her native land of a holiday whose roots run back to the time of the Aztecs - la Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead).

Her creator was born on February 2, 1852
in the small town known as the heart of Mexico - "el corazón" - because of it's central location. In the Los Angeles Barrio of San Marcos in Aguascalientes, his indigenous parents raised nine children, one of whom became a teacher and tutored Jose and the others.

As a young man, he was apprenticed to a lithographer at the print shop of Trinidad Pedrozo,  where he created cigar-box labels, diplomas, matchbox covers, calling cards and graphics on copper plates and blocks of wood.

His first illustrations were for the shop owner Pedrozo's radical weekly El Jicote (The Wasp, 1871) which offended authorities to the point where he and Pedrozo were forced to leave the district.

He was 37 when he moved to Mexico City and opened his own shop, next door to the college of art. Here, he would begin a life-long affiliation with editor Ireneo Paz.

Appearing in the equivalent of modern publications like the Weekly World News, his work was always topical. He would illustrate the death of a bullfighter, the beginnings and ending of the Mexican revolution and the eternal tabloid concerns, including sensational stories about bloody crimes of passion, macabre violence, miracles, tragic news, natural disasters, as well as the bizarre and celebrity gossip.

He illustrated a wide range of materials, from religious publications to song sheets for the narrative ballads called corridos.

In a country where many people were poor and illiterate, Posada's illustrations were meant to make the stories more accessible.

He was an anarchist at heart and in deed, whose work reflected how much he cared about the injustice in Mexican society.

How to define his technique? A minimum of lines and maximum of expression. By birthright Posada belongs to a manner that has left its stamp on the twentieth century: Expressionism. Unlike the majority of Expressionist artists, however,
Posada never took himself seriously."


His energy and dedication to work were as legendary as his taste for liquor. It is estimated
that he created almost 30,000 images, but he was paid only pennies apiece for them.

Since most were printed on cheap paper in popular media, no catalogue today illustrates more than 1,000 items. If you'd like to a collection of 593 original Posada images, there's one available
for    $68,181.80 right here.

His publisher's son described what would happen when Posada was presented with a new text...

"he would study the material, suggest a certain size plate, draw on it rapidly in pencil and produce a complete, alive and eloquent outline in a few minutes. One hour later, the plate would be ready, engraved on metal or etched on zinc

Skulls and skeletons are common in the art
of Pre-hispanic Mexico, particularly the Aztec civilization but it was publisher Antonio Vanegas, Posada and his fellow illustrator Manuel Manilla brought the theme of "calaveras" - drawings and verses about the living, in terms of the dead - back into popular culture.

Soon, the calavera would become indelibly associated with  la Día de Los Muertos and
the art of Latin America.

He lived in one of the largest and poorest tenement houses of Mexico City and
was well-known and much loved in his barrio, by the residents and students at the college of art.

These included two young men who would cite him as a primal influence on their work - Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco.

He lived a humble life and upon his death in 1913, was buried in a sixth class grave (the lowest category) in the Dolores Cemetery. Nobody claimed his remains, so they were thrown into a mass grave for paupers after seven years after his death.

Learn much more about this amazing artist at...

Learn even more about this him and see more of the amazing images he created at


Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: