El Taller de Gráfica Popular: Vida y Arte

June 13, 2015 - September 13, 2015
Virginia and Alfred Kennedy, Philip Henry Alston Jr., Boone and George-Ann Knox I, Rachel Cosby Conway, Alfred Heber Holbrook, Charles B. Presley Family and Lamar Dodd Galleries

From the international fight against fascism to protecting the proletariat, El Taller de Gráfica Popular (the Workshop for Popular Graphics, or TGP for short) worked diligently to keep pertinent issues before the populace of Mexico and the world. Covering the period from the TGP’s predecessor, the LEAR (the League of Revolutionary Writers and Artists), through the most active years of the workshop, the exhibition of approximately 250 works presents an extensive collection of large-scale posters (carteles), small flyers (volantes), books and pamphlets, powerful fine art portfolios and calavera newspapers that exemplifies TGP’s lasting contributions to the Mexican printmaking tradition. The TGP used art to inspire and inform in a country where literacy and communication technology were not widespread. Images of revolution, resistance and unity were often paired with anti-Nazi and anti-fascist messages and printed on the economical, easily distributed volantes and the larger, more visible carteles.

Remarkably prolific, the TGP produced works in a wide variety of media, specializing in linoleum prints and woodcuts. From Raúl Anguiano to Alfredo Zalce, workshop membership included many notable 20th-century Mexican printmakers. The workshop also instructed students from other countries in the techniques of printing and printmaking. During the New Deal era in the United States, some Works Progress Administration artists collaborated on projects with the TGP. Several years later, during the U.S. civil rights movement, Chicano and African American artists such as Elizabeth Catlett would produce work there as well. The proliferation of television and radio in Mexican homes, along with a more stable political environment, eventually made the use of carteles and volantes for disseminating information unnecessary, and the workshop’s productivity slowed. The TGP will always be remembered, however, as a distinct part of Mexican history, when art put social and political issues before the people and brought them to life.

The accompanying catalogue, which contains extensive scholarship and images, is one of the very first authoritative texts in English on the workshop and can be purchased from the Museum Shop.


Sarah Kate Gillespie, curator of American art