Scope and Content
Title: Engravings and posters,
Date (inclusive): 1848-1964
Collection number: MSS PRINTS 0048
Taller de Grafica Popular
Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
Abstract: Engravings (71) and posters (101) by multiple artists.
Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights
reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To
obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the
Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.
Engravings and Posters. MSS PRINTS 0048. Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.
The Taller de Grafica Popular (The Workshop for Popular Graphic Art) was founded in Mexico City in 1937 by artists Leopoldo
Mendez, Pablo O'Higgins and
Luis Arenal. All three men had been involved with the Mexican Mural Movement, under the leadership of Diego Rivera. Other
artists joined the TGP and soon the membership grew to a constant twelve to fifteen members. (see list below)
The basic premise of the group was to be a center of collective work and to provide both pragmatic and philosophical support
to its members. Pragmatically, because most of the artists were poor and could not afford the equipment necessary to create
prints, the TGP provided working quarters and basic equipment in a well lit, orderly atmosphere. Philosophically, the collective
provided a constant source of shared expertise and la critica colectiva, in which members reviewed and critiqued each other's
work. The collective was run as a business, with an executive board and weekly member meetings to discuss common concerns.
There was also an established structure for the commission and sale of member's work. Members would receive two-thirds of
the sale price of individual prints and the TGP one-third. The intent was that the workshop would pay for itself and generate
revenue for the individual artists.
The Taller produced editioned prints, pamphlets, illustrated books and films. Primarily, however, the work of the TGP was
a continuation of the school of Mexican printmaking begun by Jose Posada. Posters, or broadsides, depicting the basic needs
of the working and peasant classes were the most prolific product of the TGP. Like Posada,
TGP artists found that the imagery of the corridos and calaveras were the most successful way to communicate with a largely
illiterate audience. Bold, black and white images with densely printed surfaces are typical of the TGP iconography and reflect
admiration for Mexican folk art and Pre-columbian relief sculpture.
Scope and Content
The collection contains prints and posters made by the various members of the Taller de Grafica Popular (The Workshop for
Popular Art). Please refer to the Biographical Note for a complete listing of artists who belonged to the TGP. The collection
is divided in two series: Prints and Posters. There are approximately 63 prints and 101 posters; dimensions for each piece
are given in centimeters.
All of the prints in the collection were executed by the use of linoleum blocks.
Although the process of lithography had been introduced in the 1920's, the stone required for the process was not cheap or
abundant in Mexico. Since the objective of the TGP was to produce large editions in the cheapest manner possible, members
quickly embraced the
linoleum block printing process. Linoleum was the most modern means of printing; it was a cheap and accessible type of "block"
and could be used for both large and small-scale images. If mistakes were made, pieces could be discarded more easily than
with expensive wood or stone. Linoleum also lent itself well to the bold, black and white imagery used by most of the TGP
artists. Leopoldo Mendez, one of the founders of the Taller de Grafica, wrote that there was a certain power in the black
and white print. He felt that it served as a contrast to the colorful backdrop of the country, and was an excellent means
of representing the heavy burden of oppression endured by the Mexican people.
Because the TGP considered itself to be both an artistic cooperative and politically radical group, most of the images in
the collection deal with current events, political figures and social causes. Favorite topics include: poverty and oppression
of the Indian population, oil expropriation, the workers movement, imperialism, literacy and the high cost of living. But
there was also attention to las peguenas cosas cotidianas (the details of daily life), expressed, as Jose Gudalupe Posada
had done years before, by means of corridos and calaveras. After World War II, the TGP members turned their attentions to
peace-time cultural missions such as literacy campaigns, saving archeological sites and promoting the motion picture industry
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Bustos, Arturo Garcia.
Pache, Fernando Castro.