Revolution on Paper: Mexican Prints 1910 – 1960 at the British Museum






British Museum



Revolution on Paper: Mexican Prints 1910 – 1960
22 October 2009 – 5 April 2010

Room 90


The exhibition is the first in Europe to focus on the great age of Mexican printmaking in the first half of the 20th century. It features 130 works by over 40 artists including prints by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros





Diego Rivera


Diego Rivera
Emiliano Zapata and his horse. 1932. Lithograph.
© Copyright 2009, Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico D.F. / DACS





Between 1910 and 1920 the country was convulsed by the first socialist revolution, from which emerged a strong left-wing government that laid great stress on art as a vehicle for promoting the values of the revolution. This led to a pioneering programme to cover the walls of public buildings with vast murals, and later to setting up print workshops to produce works for mass distribution and education. All the prints in the exhibition come from the British Museum’s collection which has been acquired thanks to the generosity of the Aldama Foundation, Dave and Reba Williams and The Art Fund.

Some of the finest of these prints were produced by the three great men of Mexican art of the period known as ‘los tres grandes’: Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. The best-known print is Rivera’s Emiliano Zapata and his horse which has achieved iconic status in twentieth century Mexican art. Other prints including Rivera’s portrait of Frida Kahlo, Siqueiros’ Dama Negra, Orozco’s The Masses, demonstrate the extraordinary breadth, imagination, and quality of the works shown. In addition to the Los Tres Grandes, many other artist were involved and rose to prominence, especially after the founding of the Taller del Gráfica Popular (TGP) in Mexico City in 1937. The range of material is fascinating: as well as single-sheet artists’ prints, there are large posters with designs in woodcut or lithography by these same artists, and illustrated books on many different themes. The exhibition will also include earlier works around the turn of the century by the popular printmaker, José Guadalupe Posada, who was adopted by the revolutionaries as the archetypal printmaker who worked for the people, and whose macabre dances of skeletons have always fascinated Europeans.


Diego Rivera


Diego Rivera
Seated female nude. Diego Rivera.1930. Lithograph.
© Copyright 2009, Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico D.F. / DACS

Roberto Hinojosa


Roberto Hinojosa
‘Justicia Social en Mexico, segundo Congreso de Estudiantes Socialistas de Mexico’. Mexico City. 1935.
© Copyright The Trustees of the British Museum





Printmakers in Mexico often belonged to groups, societies and movements which were underpinned by their commitment to politics. The earliest movement was Stridentism, an avant garde group which was launched 1921 and was similar to the Italian Futurist movement because it rejected the past. The Taller de Gráfica Popular (TGP) was formed in 1937 by Luis Arenal, Leopoldo Méndez and Pablo O’Higgins as a graphic arts workshop which was influenced by communism. TGP members had access to printing equipment at the workshop and did not need to have artistic training. The collective produced prints for posters, flyers and portfolios which were printed on cheap paper. Their prints often supported the campaigns of trade and workers unions in Mexico. For example, Pablo O’Higgins and Alberto Beltrán collectively made a poster advertising the first Latin American Petrol Workers conference. The TGP was also particularly committed to the fight against international Fascism. Angel Bracho’s striking red and black poster, Victoria! (1945), which celebrates the allied victory over the Nazi’s in 1945, is a key example of the TGP’s anti-Fascist stance. Other printmakers addressed subjects such as corruption, capitalism and Mexican daily life in their prints.

Isidoro Ocampo




Isidoro Ocampo
Japanese Fascist: Facism. The Japanese Facist, 1939.
© Copyright Copyright Trustees of the British Museum





In 1957, the TGP held a major exhibition at the Fine Arts Palace in Mexico City to celebrate its twentieth anniversary as a printmaking collective and its activity continues even today on a minor scale. Members of the TGP and other artists’ groups have published extensively in support of the visual arts. Other artists associated with the TGP went on to establish art schools, institutions or museums.




Courtesy The British Museum
Images © Their respective owners. All rights reserved





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~ by Stampfli & Turci on October 22, 2009.

One Response to “Revolution on Paper: Mexican Prints 1910 – 1960 at the British Museum”

  1. I have a print signed by artist Jesus Escobedo (9 /20) 1939 that I believe my parents bought on their honeymoon in 1939-1940 in Mexico. i am very interested in his work. Can you help me find out more about this print, and others he had done?
    Thank you!

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