The Calaveras of José Guadalupe Posada

Artist and political cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada (1852–1913) is best known for his calavera caricatures, in particular, Calavera Garbancera, more commonly known as “La Catrina.”

La Catrina was meant as mockery of Mexico’s high society and a protest of the Porfiriato, the regime of Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz, whose repressive ways led to the Mexican Revolution commanded by Emiliano Zapata and Francisco Villa. Posada was ridiculing Mexicans, who like Díaz, shunned their own Indianness for the Victorian styles of the day. Díaz was eventually exiled to France, and the demands of Zapata and Villa were incorporated into the Mexican Constitution.

Posada’s many other calavera caricatures depicted the daily lives of campesinos and common folk, which endeared him to many. His work inspired generations of Mexicans. From Orozco and Rivera, to a countless number of contemporary artists, Posada’s influence is still felt.

In recent years, Posada’s calavera caricatures have been incorporated into Mexico’s Día de Muertos celebrations. From helping win the Mexican Revolution to capturing iconic images of Mexican life, we honor Posada and his legacy by recognizing his contributions to Mexican culture. ¡Viva don Lupe Posada!

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