Study for the cover of Melodic Incidents of the Irrational World (recto); Melodic Incidents of the Irrational World (verso)

A work made of graphite, with black conté crayon, with erasing (recto) and red conté crayon (verso) on off-white wove paper.
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City

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  • A work made of graphite, with black conté crayon, with erasing (recto) and red conté crayon (verso) on off-white wove paper.

Date:

c. 1944 (recto); 1944 (verso)

Artist:

Leopoldo Méndez
Mexican, 1902-1969

About this artwork

Melodic Incidents of the Irrational World, featuring wood engravings and scratchboard prints by Méndez, won the best illustrated book award at Mexico City’s Fourth Book Fair in 1946, and the volume was a bestseller for the Taller de Gráfica Popular’s publishing arm, La Estampa Mexicana. Cabada’s story is an allegory of popular revolution told through the lens of traditional Mayan legends. It tells the tale of a snail-woman songstress and her squirrel husband, who are deceived by a vulture dressed unmistakably in capitalist top hat and suit coat. When the bird’s deeds are discovered, he meets his end through popular justice. Although Méndez rarely took up Pre-Columbian imagery, he drew here on ancient sources, such as the snake figure reminiscent of Mesoamerican codices, while inflecting them with a modern sensibility. The book design deftly intertwines Méndez’s sinuous images with verse, Maya-Quiché folk songs and their Spanish translations, and musical notation in a rhythmic dance appropriate to the story’s musical theme.

Español:
Incidentes melódicos del mundo irracional, con grabados en madera de pie e ilustraciones esgrafiadas de Méndez, ganó el premio para el mejor libro ilustrado en la 4a Feria del Libro de la Ciudad de México en 1946, y constituyó un éxito de venta para el brazo editorial del Taller de Gráfica Popular, La Estampa Mexicana. El cuento de Cabada es una alegoría de la revolución popular contada a través del prisma de las leyendas tradicionales mayas. Cuenta la historia de la cantante doña Caracol y de su esposo, el señor Ardilla, quienes son engañados por don Zopilote, ataviado con los inconfundibles signos capitalistas: el sombrero de copa alta y un saco elegante. Cuando se descubre su engaño, el pajarraco termina siendo ajusticiado por el pueblo. Aunque Méndez rara vez incorporó imágenes precolombinas, aquí recurre a símbolos antiguos, tales como la figura de la serpiente, reminiscente de los códices mesoamericanos, pero marcadas por una sensibilidad moderna. El diseño del libro entreteje diestramente las sinuosas imágenes de Méndez con el verso, las canciones tradicionales mayas-quiché y sus traducciones al español, y las anotaciones musicales en una danza rítmica apropiada para el tema musical de la narración.

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Prints and Drawings

Artist

Leopoldo Méndez

Title

Study for the cover of Melodic Incidents of the Irrational World (recto); Melodic Incidents of the Irrational World (verso)

Origin

México

Date

1939–1945

Medium

Graphite, with black conté crayon, with erasing (recto) and red conté crayon (verso) on off-white wove paper

Dimensions

290 x 448 mm

Credit Line

The Art Institute of Chicago

Reference Number

1945.123

Copyright

© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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