José Guadalupe Posada (1851–1913) was a Mexican illustrator known for his satirical and politically acute calaveras. Deriving from the Spanish word for ‘skulls’, these calaveras were illustrations featuring skeletons which would, after Posada’s death, become closely associated with the mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Most of these calaveras were published by the press of Antonio Vanegas Arroyo which produced inexpensive literature for the lower classes, including thousands of satirical broadsides which Posada illustrated. Through this focus on mortality Vanegas Arroyo and Posada satirised many poignant issues of the day, in particular the details of bourgeois life and the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. On January 20th 1913, 3 years after the start of the Mexican Revolution, José Guadalupe Posada died at his home in obscurity. He was penniless and buried in an unmarked grave. It was only years later in the 1920s that his work became recognised on a national and international level after it was championed by the French ex-patriot artist Jean Charlot who described Posada as “printmaker to the Mexican people”.
(Would you like one on your wall? We are selling one of Posada’s “calavera” broadsides in our shop, see it here.)
In this section of the site we bring you curated collections of images, books, audio and film, shining a light on curiosities and wonders from a wide range of online archives. With a leaning toward the surprising, the strange, and the beautiful, we hope to provide an ever-growing cabinet of curiosities for the digital age, a kind of hyperlinked Wunderkammer – an archive of materials which truly celebrates the breadth and variety of our shared cultural commons and the minds that have made it. Some of our most popular posts include visions of the future from late 19th century France, a dictionary of Victorian slang and a film showing the very talented “hand-farting” farmer of Michigan. With each post including links back to the original source we encourage you to explore these wonderful online sources for yourself. Check out our Sources page to see where we find the content.
A song naming some of the great silent era actors of the time, the lyrics describing a party where all the actors mingle and dance together, with familiar names such as Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks counted among the celebrities. …Continued