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Posada’s Legacy

Evidence of José Guadalupe Posada’s legacy may be seen on six of seven continents and is so influential to generations of artists that his energy drives much of the inspiration fueling the imagery of today’s movements like Occupy, immigration reform and human rights. To those people who do know his work, his story is shrouded in myth: called a revolutionary, artist of the people, the Goya of Mexico and yet as stated, to most of the public, even to some extent in Mexico, he is virtually unknown.

There are however thousands of artists who have been influenced by Posada, while each artist has his or her own creative spirit there is, some more and some less, inspiration from Posada in every artist on this very abbreviated list: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, Jean Charlot, Leopoldo Méndez, Luis Arenal, Alberto Beltrán, Alfredo Zalce, Pablo O’Higgins, Francisco Mora, Elizabeth Catlett, Byron Randall, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Francisco Toledo, Arturo Bustos, Adolfo Mexiac, Juan Fuentes, Ester Hernández, Enrique Chagoya, René Yáñez, Rupert García, Artemio Rodríguez, Héctor Vargas and Art Hazelwood.

As described in the Resurrection section of this website, artist’s collectives such as the Taller de la Gráfica Popular (TGP) or People’s Print Workshop formed drawing upon the spirit embodied by Posada’s work. In the years that followed artist collectives formed often influenced by the TGP but always with an eye on the foundation begun by Posada. Some of those collectives are: Mission Grafica San Francisco, Instituto Gráfico de Chicago, the ASARO (Asamblea de los Artistas Revolucionarios de Oaxaca, Mexico) Taller Experimental de Gráfica (Habana, Cuba) and Consejo Gráfico (United States) to name a few.

In the 1960s the Chicano Art movement (United States) drew upon elements of the TGP, muralists and ultimately Posada to create an immense body of visual artistic expression. The movement or el movimiento utilized murals, silk screening and printing to communicate through images a variety of socio-political messages from Mexican-Americans regarding civil and political rights. Much of the movement relied on community based themes seeking equality and pointing out the ills of society yet often with a progressive note, demonstrating Posada’s spirit of the people.

One of the offshoots of Posada’s work is the popularity of the calavera. For example, The Grateful Dead used Posada’s images in its backstage passes. But it goes well beyond rock and roll. Images of calaveras were once seen mainly during observance of Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead. This was the main time when calaveras would be seen during Posada’s time. Yet today his depictions of calaveras are accompanied by a growing population of Mexican demographics in the United States and have gained tremendously in popularity. Perhaps it is the demographic or maybe Day of the Dead is going the way of Halloween in the commercial sense. Regardless of the why, Posada’s images are spreading more and more each year and if one were to add up the revenue generated by sales of calavera images in the United States alone it likely would tally in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Posada Art Foundation is dedicated to fostering a greater appreciation of José Guadalupe Posada’s legacy. We strive to preserve his works in the conservation of our collection and to educate at all levels through exhibitions, lectures, film, publications and a variety of projects that ultimately all combine to connect José Guadalupe Posada’s name to the legacy of his work that he gave to humanity.

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