The second half of the nineteenth century was, famously, a golden age for children's literature-in Mexico as well as in North America and Europe. José Guadalupe Posada (1851-1913) and Manuel Manilla (1839-1895) are the two leading icons of children's illustration in Mexico, and together they developed a huge body of engravings and illustrations for cheap, ephemeral, "penny press" collections of Mexican fairy tales. In the early part of the last century, these fragile publications-once so ubiquitous and loved-received scant attention, until they were brought to a wider audience in the 1930s by the French artist Jean Charlot (who encountered them while visiting Diego Rivera). Published on the 100th anniversary of Posada's death, Illustrations for Mexican Fairy Tales gathers these vibrantly colorful works by both artists for the first time, many of which were done for the famous Mexican penny press publisher Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. Affordably priced, and with a wealth of color reproductions throughout, this extremely giftworthy collection includes a facsimile reprint of one of Posada's most beautiful and acclaimed booklets as well as an essay by the respected curator, collector and writer Mercurio Lopez Casillas.
Remedios Varo: The Mexican Years offers a definitive survey of the life and work of a singularly appealing and mysterious Surrealist painter. Born and raised in Spain, Remedios Varo received her earliest training in Madrid before fleeing the Spanish Civil War in 1937 to join Surrealist circles in Paris. The outbreak of World War II forced her to take refuge in Mexico, where she remained until her untimely death in 1963, and where she created her most enduring work. Known as one of the three “brujas” (witches) active in the Mexico City art milieu, Varo shared an interest in esotericism with fellow painter Leonora Carrington and a range of interests in science, philosophy and the literature of German Romanticism with the photographer Kati Horna. For some ten years, from the mid–1950s until her death in 1963, Varo devoted herself to creating an extraordinary dreamlike oeuvre, on the threshold between mysticism and modernity. Her beautifully crafted images of medieval interiors, occult workshops and androgynous figures engaged in alchemical pursuits evoke the eerie allegories of Hieronymus Bosch, esoteric engravings and the charm and lure of fairytales. This catalogue includes a complete illustrated chronology with never before published images and describes Varo’s role in the Mexican Surrealist movement and her relations with Luis Buñuel, Octavio Paz, Benjamin Péret, Alice Rahon, Wolfgang Paalen and many others.
Remedios Varo (1908–1963) fled the Spanish Civil War and then World War II to settle in Mexico where she helped establish a Mexican Surrealist movement and painted visions that combined modernism with mysticism. She was married to the leading French Surrealist Benjamin Péret.
Published by Radius Books/D.A.P.. Text by Sergio Rodríguez Blanco, George Otis.
The acclaimed photographer of African masks turns her lens to the astounding mask cultures of Mexico
Since 1985, photographer Phyllis Galembo has traveled extensively to photograph sites of ritual dress in Africa and the Caribbean. In her latest body of work, collected in this new publication, Galembo turns to Mexico, where she captures cultural performances with a subterranean political edge. Using a direct, unaffected portrait style, Galembo captures her subjects informally posed but often strikingly attired in traditional or ritualistic dress.
Masking is a complex tradition in which the participants transcend the physical world and enter the spiritual realm. Masks, costumes and body paint transform the human body and encode a rich range of political, artistic, theatrical, social and religious meanings on the body. In her vibrant color photographs, Galembo highlights the artistry of the performers, how they use materials from their immediate environment to morph into a fantastical representation of themselves and an idealized vision of a mythical figure. In a gorgeous, fascinating photographic survey of Mexico’s masking practices, Galembo captures her subjects suspended between past, present and future, with their religious, political and cultural affiliations—their personal and collective identifications—displayed on their bodies.
Photographer Phyllis Galembo (born 1952) received her MFA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1977, and was Professor in the Fine Arts Department of SUNY Albany from 1978 to 2018. A 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, Galembo has photographs in numerous public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library. Her photographs of ritual masks in Africa, the Diaspora and beyond have been the subject of several monographic publications, including Maske (Aperture, 2016).
Published by RM/BBVA. Text by Juan Villoro, Mercurio López, Helia Bonilla, Montserrat Gali, Rafael Barajas.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Posada’s death, A Century of Skeletons collects nearly 1,000 reproductions of original prints, including dozens of engravings never before published. Over the last century, Posada’s satirical illustrations with their signature "calaveras," or skeletons, have become synonymous with the imagery of Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations. Often guised in various costumes, such as the Calavera de la Catrina, the "Skull of the Female Dandy," Posada’s Calaveras also satirized the lifestyle of the Mexican upper classes during the reign of Porfirio Díaz. His prints and lithographs utilize a distinctive blend of black, white and middle tones and his works in type metal, zinc and wood make dramatic use of proportion and disproportion. Reflecting on various aspects of Posada’s life and work, this volume contains essays by Juan Villoro, Helia Bonilla, Monserrat Galí and Rafael Barajas, as well as a study by Mercurio López that organizes a significant part of Posada’s work chronologically, and with regard to the printmaking techniques employed. It also includes two complementary sections: one examining the technical transition from lead to zinc in engraving and a second giving examples of the iconographical sources for Posada’s work.
José Guadalupe Posada (1852–1913) studied lithography as a young man and opened a commercial print shop in the 1870s, focusing on advertising, book illustration and broadsides. After the shop was destroyed in a flood, Posada relocated to Mexico City and began moving toward cheaper methods of printmaking. It was there that Posada began contributing his satirical cartoons to news flyers and periodicals, using his adept imagery to communicate with a largely illiterate public. Though he died virtually unknown, Posada has been acknowledged by Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco as the godfather of modern Mexican art.
Published by Turner. Essays by Victor Muñoz and Ruben Ortiz.
One of Mexico's leading contemporary artists, Lourdes Grobet is a photographer who, for the past 20 years, has set her camera lens to look at Mexican popular culture, from female wrestling to northern emigration, from neo-Mayan architecture to Cuban immigration. Beyond photography, she has also tackled architecture, installation art and graphic design, collaborating with numerous institutions in Mexico and abroad to realize her projects. Throughout her long career, she has sometimes been associated with the Fluxus movement, and has had a great influence on the younger generations of Mexican artists, including Gabriel Orozco and Ruben Ortiz. Some of the institutions with which she has worked include the Museo de Arte Moderno of Mexico City, Museo Carrillo Gil, Museo Nacional de Arte, Museo de Bellas Artes, Museo Esteudio Diego Rivera, Fondo de Cultura Economica editorial, and Secretaria de Educacion Publica, among others. Grobet's work has been exhibited both individually and in group shows in the United States, England, France, Holland, Sweden, Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico.
Published by MFA Publications, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Text by Kristen Gresh. Contributions by Guillermo Sheridan.
Iturbide is modern Mexico's subtlest, most profound chronicler
Graciela Iturbide, best known for her iconic photographs of Mexican indigenous women, has engaged with her homeland as a subject for the past 50 years in images of great variety and depth. The intensely personal, lyrical photographs collected and interpreted in this book show that, for Iturbide, photography is a way of life—as well as a way of seeing and understanding Mexico, with all its beauties, rituals, challenges and contradictions.
The Mexico portrayed here is a country in constant transition, defined by tensions and exchanges between new and old, urban and rural, traditional and modern. Iturbide’s deep connection with her subjects—among them political protests, celebrations and rituals, desert landscapes, cities, places of burial and Mexico’s artistic heritage—produces indelible images that encompass dreams, symbols, reality and daily life.
Published to accompany the first major museum exhibition of Iturbide’s work on the East Coast, this volume presents more than 100 beautifully reproduced black-and-white photographs, accompanied by illuminating essays inviting readers to share in Graciela Iturbide’s personal artistic journey through the country she knows so intimately.
One of the most influential photographers active in Latin America today, Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide (born 1942) began studying photography in the 1970s with legendary photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo. Seeking “to explore and articulate the ways in which a vocable such as 'Mexico' is meaningful only when understood as an intricate combination of histories and practices,” as she puts it, Iturbide has created a nuanced and sensitive documentary record of contemporary Mexico.
Published by RM. Text by Dr. Lakra, Gabriel Orozco.
A refined woman gazes elegantly from the cover of a mid-twentieth-century Mexican magazine--its title, Blanca Sol, lays bare the publication's Eurocentric character--but the cover girl's loveliness is compromised by the penciled-in skull that replaces the right side of her face. In another image, a sleek gentleman who might otherwise be debonair becomes fearsome and fierce with the addition of a pattern of contoured lines, like Aztec facial tattoos, over his entire face. This is the work of Mexican artist Dr. Lakra, who superimposes mystical, ancient or funerary symbolism--gang tattoos, bones and skulls, Aztec warrior heads, spider webs, serpents and demons--onto vintage advertisements, girlie pinups, Japanese prints, baby dolls, cast skulls and the like, attaining an effect that resembles a Dia de los Muertos altar slyly erected in place of a kitchen table in the home furnishings section of a Mexico City department store. "In one way or another, the noncivilized human, the nonrefined, the primitive, is always being repressed, in a way that's almost criminal," Dr. Lakra, who also works as a tattoo artist, has said. "I think that through these themes you can define the essence of culture." This lavishly illustrated volume contains 120 color images of Lakra's work, plus a contribution from renowned Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco.
Born Jerónimo López Ramírez in 1972, Dr Lakra is an artist and tattooist based in Oaxaca, Mexico. Lakra has shown his work internationally, at Tate Modern in London, The Drawing Center and Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and elsewhere.
In our thirst for Hollywood action heroes and caped crusaders, we sometimes overlook the everyday heroes in our midst. U.S.–based Mexican photographer Dulce Pinzón (born 1974) pays homage to Mexican immigrant workers in New York, heroes who sacrifice extraordinary hours in extreme conditions for very low wages, all for the sake of families and communities in Mexico who rely on them to survive. The Mexican economy has quietly become dependent on the money sent from workers in the United States, while the U.S. economy has quietly become dependent on the labor of Mexican immigrants. These color photographs present these immigrants in their work environment, but dressed in the costumes of popular American and Mexican superheroes. Short texts present the worker’s “secret identity,” their hometown and the amount of money they send to their families each week.
Published by Lucia|Marquand. Text by Laura Anderson Barbata, Jan Bondeson, Grant Kester, Bess Lovejoy, et al.
Born in Sinaloa, Mexico, Julia Pastrana (1834–1860) was a gifted singer, musician and dancer who could converse in English, Spanish and French. She also suffered from one of the most extreme cases of hypertrichosis terminalis on record and severe gingival hyperplasia: her face and body were covered with thick hair and her jaw was disproportionately large. Pastrana toured North America and Europe billed as “The Ugliest Woman in the World.” After her death, her body was exhibited throughout Europe and the US. Until her recent repatriation to Sinaloa, her body was kept at the University of Oslo, Norway. Pastrana’s story raises issues around beauty, ownership, science and racism, human rights, colonialism, sexism and indigenous rights. Artist Laura Anderson Barbata has brought together scholars and experts from various fields to explore these and other topics as they relate to Pastrana’s extraordinary story.