A current exhibition at the Denison Museum, titled Be A Good Neighbor, highlights Latin America’s influence on art in the US over the past century.
Many of us know the Mexican artist Diego Rivera, and his even more famous wife, Frida Kahlo, and we may know of the Mexican Mural movement. However, few of us are educated on the artists who inspired these muralists and the modern-day artists they have influenced. Be A Good Neighbor travels through time to explain the significance of Latin American Art we know and love today.
One component of the exhibition focuses on the printmaking works of José Guadalupe Posada (Mexican, 1852-1913). Posada’s detailed black and white graphic prints gained popularity through his broadsides and book illustrations. However, after his death, The Art Institute of Chicago’s 1944 exhibition titled “Printmaker of the Mexican People” brought his artwork to recognition in the United States.
Posada’s prints featured in the exhibition often depict skulls, skeletons, and the Mexican working class. These subjects have heavily influenced Mexican art in general. Rivera explains Posada’s impact in the forward of his exhibition in Chicago “… today his work and life penetrate (without anyone of them being aware of it) into the veins of the young Mexican artists…”
The exhibition explores further aspects of culture in Latin America and its relationship with the United States. Murals by world-famous artists, including Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco, are displayed at the forefront of the collection. They are framed to the right by political propaganda posters created in the 1940s meant to unite the United States and Latin America against the axis powers during WWII.
On the opposite wall, the exhibition features prints made by the Taller de Gráfica Popular, a graphic art workshop collective created by a group of Mexican artists in 1937. These prints focus on images of the working class in Mexico and have been shown in museums around the world.
Contemporary prints by the Institutio Graphico Chicago, a Latin American print collaborative complete the exhibition. These North and South American artists created a 100-year tribute to José Guadalupe Posada, titled the Posada Presente portfolio.
Posada, José Guadalupe, et al. “Introduction De Diego Rivera.” Monografía: Las Obras
De José Guadalupe Posada, Grabador Mexicano, Mexican Folkways, México, 1930.