Leopoldo Méndez: Revolutionary Art and the Mexican Print

Leopoldo Méndez: Revolutionary Art and the Mexican Print

Leopoldo Méndez: Revolutionary Art and the Mexican Print

Leopoldo Méndez: Revolutionary Art and the Mexican Print

Synopsis

Leopoldo Méndez (1902–1969) was one of the most distinguished printmakers of the twentieth century, as well as one of Mexico's most accomplished artists. A politically motivated artist who strongly opposed injustice, fascism, and war, Méndez helped form and actively participated in significant political and artistic groups, including the Estridentistas in the 1920s and the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (LEAR) and the Taller de Gráfica Popular (TGP) in the 1930s. To champion Mexican art and artists, Méndez also founded and directed the Fondo Editorial de la Plástica Mexicana, a highly respected art book publishing company.Leopoldo Méndez is the first book-length work in English on this major Mexican artist. Profusely illustrated with over one hundred and fifty images, it examines the whole sweep of Méndez's artistic career. Deborah Caplow situates Méndez within both Mexican and international art of the twentieth century, tracing the lines of connection and influence between Méndez and such contemporaries as David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and printmaker José Guadalupe Posada. Caplow focuses on the period in the 1930s when Méndez and his fellow artists in LEAR and TGP played a key role in the development of a Mexican political art movement and a modern Mexican cultural identity. She also describes how Méndez created a body of powerful anti-Fascist images before and during World War II and subsequently collaborated with artists from Mexico and around the world on political printmaking, in addition to publishing books and creating prints for films by the eminent Mexican cinematographer, Gabriel Figueroa.

Excerpt

The Mexican artist Leopoldo Méndez (1902–1969) participated in a wide variety of historically significant movements and projects in Mexico between 1920 and 1969. He was a political activist, printmaker, painter, art teacher, and book designer. in the 1920s Méndez made paintings and prints as an integral member of the Stridentist movement, a group of avant-garde Mexican writers and artists. in the 1930s he and others founded two important arts organizations, the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (League of Revolutionary Artists and Writers, LEAR), and the Taller de Gráfica Popular (Popular Graphic Art Workshop or People’s Graphic Art Workshop, TGP), producing an extensive body of politically motivated graphic work. and in 1958 Méndez founded and directed the Fondo Editorial de la Plástica Mexicana, a major art book publishing company that under his direction produced several high-quality books about Mexican art. in spite of the recognition accorded to Méndez by those who are aware of his accomplishments, he has remained in relative obscurity both in Mexico and elsewhere.

At the end of the Mexican Revolution in 1920, artists in Mexico were presented with a unique set of opportunities and challenges. An economically undeveloped country, but rich in tradition and history, Mexico experienced an artistic and cultural renaissance of unprecedented proportions, generated by a community of creative, revolutionary artists and intellectuals. Méndez belonged to a group of young artists who emerged in the 1920s and played a key role in the development of a Mexican political art movement and a modern Mexican cultural identity. Throughout his life Méndez worked tirelessly to support the goals of a generation of Mexican artists. To an unusual degree he remained faithful to concepts developed during the early years of the postrevolutionary period in Mexico, when artists began to see themselves as active participants in a new society, responsible for communicating their ideologies to the Mexican people and helping the oppressed masses achieve political and economic equality. Méndez and . . .

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