Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the Engravings and Posters, 1848-1964
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (67.38 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Access Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Engravings and posters,
    Date (inclusive): 1848-1964
    Collection number: MSS PRINTS 0048
    Creator: Taller de Grafica Popular
    Extent: 172 prints
    Repository: Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
    Abstract: Engravings (71) and posters (101) by multiple artists.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions


    Publication Rights

    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.


    Purchased, 2002.

    Preferred Citation:

    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 the artists' 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 in Mexico.

    Access Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Bracho, Angel.
    Bustos, Arturo Garcia.
    Calderon, Celia.
    Catlet, E.
    Escobedo, Jesús.
    Flores, Norberto.
    Gómez, Andrea.
    Huerta, Elena.
    Jiménez, Sarah.
    Méndez, Leopoldo.
    Mereles, Alfredo.
    Mexiac, Adolfo.
    Mora, Francisco.
    Morales, Antonio.
    O'Higgins, Pablo.
    Pache, Fernando Castro.
    Quinteros, Adolfo.
    Ramirez, Everardo.
    Ravel, Fany.
    Sosamontes, Ramón.
    Ventura, Hector.
    Zalce, Alfredo.
    Art, Modern--Mexico.