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Legacy of Posada

appeared in la Garbancera & la Cucuracha

José Guadalupe Posada’s legacy is one of influence and inspiration; yet his name is far from being associated with his art and its contribution to the imagery of contemporary cultural iconology and social movements. But if we look, even with only a slightly educated eye, we see a rich legacy in Posada’s work.


Posada lampooned politicians, created wild sensational images for the equivalent of the tabloid press; he captured the Mexican Revolution, forty years after his death helped the Cuban Revolution succeed, chronicled Mexican culture of his time, adorned Grateful Dead concert tickets and today leaps to life annually as the skeletal images seen each November during the Mexican observance of Day of the Dead. It is those skeletal images, called calaveras in Spanish that Posada is most well known, but this is mainly in Mexico. Elsewhere his legacy is virtually unknown and even in Mexico many people may be familiar with the calavera images but they do not necessarily know who made them popular.


There is no exact reason for José Guadalupe Posada’s general anonymity. One artist who is better known, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, in 1930 referred to José Guadalupe’s Posada’s art as, “so great that perhaps one day his name will be forgotten!.” Perhaps Rivera understood something about Posada’s art, that possibly Posada’s work would have a different destiny than the one afforded other artists who achieved fame or at least wide recognition for their creative talents.

Diego Rivera's homage to the importance of JG Posada's calavera's symbolism

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