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Revolutionary Calavera

A work made of photo-relief etching (drawing style) in black on green wove paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of photo-relief etching (drawing style) in black on green wove paper.


c. 1910


José Guadalupe Posada
Mexican, 1852-1913

About this artwork

José Guadalupe Posada was the most prolific and influential broadside illustrator working in late-19th- and early-20th-century Mexico, and the Taller de Gráfica Popular considered him their artistic forebear and a model of the popular, socially concerned artist. Posada illustrated thousands of colorful, eye-catching broadsides—cheap, ephemeral handbills directed at urban working- and middle-class audiences—that addressed current events, social and political scandals, and curiosities.

Posada’s posthumous reputation as an artist committed both to Mexican traditions and to popular political causes largely rests on Day of the Dead broadsides such as this one, which celebrates the gleeful, destructive power of the Mexican Revolution in the form of calaveras, the satirical skeleton figures popularized by Posada. The Taller de Gráfica Popular emulated this tradition, leveraging the critical edge, humor, and manic energy embodied by the calavera figure to address contemporary issues.

José Guadalupe Posada fue el ilustrador de hojas volantes más prolífico e influyente del México de finales del siglo XIX y principios del XX. El Taller de Gráfica Popular lo consideró su precursor artístico y modelo del artista popular con consciencia social. Posada ilustró miles de hojas volantes coloridas y llamativas. De bajo costo y efímeras, estas hojas estaban dirigidas a las clases medias y trabajadoras e informaban sobre hechos del momento, escándalos políticos y sociales y rarezas.

La fama póstuma de Posada, en cuanto artista comprometido con las tradiciones mexicanas y con las causas políticas populares, descansa mayormente en sus hojas volantes para el Día de Muertos, tales como ésta. Aquí se celebra la jubilosa fuerza destructiva de la Revolución Mexicana en la forma de calaveras, los satíricos esqueletos popularizados por Posada. El Taller de Gráfica Popular replicó esta tradición al utilizar ventajosamente el ángulo crítico, el humor y la energía maniaca representada en la figura de la calavera para abordar temas de su época.


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Prints and Drawings


José Guadalupe Posada


Revolutionary Calavera


Mexico (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Photo-relief etching (drawing style) in black on green wove paper


40 × 30 cm (15 3/4 × 11 13/16 in.)

Credit Line

William McCallin McKee Memorial Endowment

Reference Number


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