Images of Death in Mexican Prints by Mercurio Casillas
Over the past two centuries, Mexican culture has kept up a unique dialogue with the fact of death, rather than defying it as most contemporary cultures are wont to do. Today, Mexico even boasts a Museum of Death (in Aguascalientes), filled with pre-Columbian sculpture and pottery, reproductions of ancient Indian codices depicting human sacrifices, colonial-era artworks, skeletons, artisan’s toys and works by the countless Modern artists who have treated the theme. It is, of course, in Mexico’s arts that the blend of respect and irreverence for death and the afterlife is made most clear. Here, Mercurio López Casillas, expert on nineteenth-century Mexican graphic art and the author of studies of José Guadalupe Posada and Manuel Manilla, surveys the subject from pre-Hispanic times to the comic pages of contemporary Mexican newspapers. López Casillas examines the long tradition of representing death and skeleton figures that leads up to Posada, and traces the influence of this great popular engraver in the work of many other twentieth-century artists, including those of the Taller de Gráfica Popular workshop, like Leopoldo Méndez. Readers of this richly illustrated book will also be fascinated by early colonial examples of calaveras, or skeleton caricatures. Images of Death is a colorful and lively deterrent against our habitual inclination to take the Grim Reaper too seriously. For enthusiasts of Mexican folk art, underground comics, tattoo art, the occult and more.
Mercurio Lopez Casillas is an expert on nineteenth-century Mexican graphic art, books and engraving. He is the author of several studies of the work of Jose Guadalupe Posada, and coauthor of a volume on bookplates designed by Mexican artists. His book dealing with the typically Mexican genre of Calaveras, or skeleton caricatures, is also forthcoming from Editorial RM. Lopez Casillas lives in Mexico City.