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Mexico and Modern Printmaking: A Revolution in the Graphic Arts, 1920–1950

Diego Rivera’s print of Zapata is part of Mexico and Modern Printmaking: A Revolution in the Graphic Arts, 1920–1950, a traveling exhibition of over one hundred prints and posters made in Mexico following the Mexican Revolution (1910–20). During this period, prints and posters became the ideal way to promote political, social, and artistic ideas as they were inexpensive to produce and easy to distribute. Over the next thirty years, artists in Mexico brought printmaking to new heights, both as a modern art form and as a tool for social change.

At the heart of the printmaking movement in Mexico was the Taller de Gráfica Popular (Graphic Workshop of the People), or TGP, an artists’ cooperative founded with the goal of creating images for Mexican people. In addition to making limited-edition prints for sale to collectors, the TGP published thousands of larger-scale posters to promote political ideals and social initiatives. Though Rivera was not a member of the TGP, many of the artists represented in the Mexico and Modern Printmaking exhibition, such as Leopoldo Méndez and Elizabeth Catlett, belonged to the cooperative.

Leopoldo Méndez (Mexican, 1902–1969)
Posada in His Workshop (Homage to Posada), 1953
Linocut; block 14 x 25 1/2 inches
Published by the Taller de Gráfica Popular, Mexico City
McNay Art Museum, San Antonio: Gift of John Palmer Leeper, by exchange, 1998.2


Many TGP members took inspiration from the works of José Guadalupe Posada (Mexican, 1852–1913), whose inexpensive prints commenting on Mexican life and politics were widely sold in the streets and barrios of Mexico City. This print by Leopoldo Méndez depicts Posada in his workshop.






Reading (Literacy)
Reading (Literacy), 1948
Elizabeth Catlett, American
Image: 11 7/8 x 16 1/2 inches (30.2 x 41.9 cm) Sheet: 17 5/8 x 22 7/8 inches (44.8 x 58.1 cm)
Purchased with the Lola Downin Peck Fund, the Carl and Laura Zigrosser Collection, and with the gift of Jay Richardson Massey in honor of Sarah d'Harnoncourt (by exchange), 1998
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This image by Elizabeth Catlett is typical of the work produced by the TGP. The print promoted public education and literacy at a time when children in many parts of Mexico were being sent to school for the first time.


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