Leopoldo Méndez, revolutionary art, and the Mexican print: in service of the people
This dissertation situates the Mexican printmaker, Leopoldo Mendez (1902--1969), as a leading member of the Mexican art world of the twentieth century, revealing his central role in Mexican art and politics. His significance is demonstrated through analysis of his extensive body of politically motivated prints and his participation in a number of important art movements and organizations.Mendez came to maturity in the dynamic artistic environment of post-Revolutionary Mexico. In the 1920s he participated in the Stridentist Movement, a group of Futurist and Dadaist-inspired avant-garde writers and artists, and produced prints with revolutionary themes.In the late 1920s Mendez committed himself to leftist political action and refined his graphic skills. Mendez's participation in the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (LEAR), from 1933 to 1937, led him to develop a graphic idiom based on Mexican and international sources. Mendez was the first to adapt the style and motifs of Jose Guadalupe Posada to political printmaking, publishing satirical prints in LEAR's journal Frente a Frente. In LEAR Mendez evolved a new model of artistic practice based on the collective method and the production of prints and murals for the proletariat.In 1937 Mendez was a founder of the Taller de Grafica Popular (Popular Graphics Workshop, TGP), a collective printmaking workshop. Under Mendez's leadership the Taller created ephemeral political prints, portfolios of prints, illustrated books, and, from the late 1930s to 1945, powerful anti-fascist and anti-Nazi images. The TGP became an international art center in the 1940s and 1950s. In the late 1950s, Mendez turned to publishing fine art books that reproduced the paintings of the Mexican muralists, prints by Posada and folk art.This dissertation demonstrates that Mendez deserves to be considered a major figure in the history of twentieth-century art because of the high quality of his work and his leadership in the creation of modern Mexican art.
- Fine arts