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What May Come (Mexico, 1945)

A work made of wood engraving in black ink on ivory chinese paper.
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City

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  • A work made of wood engraving in black ink on ivory chinese paper.




Leopoldo Méndez (Mexican, 1902-1969)
printed by Max Kahn (American, born Russia, 1903-2005) for the Print and Drawing Club of the Art Institute of Chicago

About this artwork

A signal image in Méndez’s oeuvre, this work is one of only three self-portrait prints made by the artist. Also known as Danger over Mexico and That Which Must Not Come, the print reflects upon the role of the politically engaged artist in Mexico at the end of World War II, a period of great uncertainty. In the print, the figure of Méndez lies across an open sketchbook and contemplates a nightmarish vision in which Mexican national symbols—the eagle, snake, and nopal cactus (references to the legend of the founding of Tenochtitlan, ancient Mexico City)—are grotesquely inverted, and social order is threatened by reactionary forces. The eagle, symbol of the Mexican republic, hangs on a swastika-cross, and behind, a column of fascist soldiers, supported by Catholic clerics, marches on Mexico City. The museum’s Print and Drawing Club commissioned Méndez to make the woodblock for this print.

Imagen señera de la obra de Méndez, éste es uno de los únicos tres autorretratos en grabado realizados por el artista. También conocido como Amenaza sobre México y Lo que no debe venir, el grabado es una reflexión sobre el papel del artista y su compromiso político con México hacia el final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, que fue un periodo de gran incertidumbre. En el grabado, la figura de Méndez yace recostada boca abajo sobre un gran libro de bocetos abierto mientras contempla una visión pesadillesca. En ella los símbolos nacionales mexicanos —el águila, la serpiente y el nopal (referencias a la leyenda de la fundación de Tenochtitlán)— aparecen grotescamente trastocados y el orden social se ve amenazado por fuerzas de la reacción. El águila, símbolo de la República Mexicana, cuelga de una cruz gamada, mientras una fila de soldados fascistas, con apoyo de la curia católica, marcha sobre la Ciudad de México. El Club de Grabados y Dibujos del museo comisionó a Méndez el bloque en madera para este grabado.


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Prints and Drawings


Leopoldo Méndez


What May Come (Mexico, 1945)


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.



Wood engraving in black ink on ivory Chinese paper


Image/block: 30.3 × 17.6 cm (11 15/16 × 6 15/16 in.); Sheet: 42.1 × 32.6 cm (16 5/8 × 12 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of the Print and Drawing Club

Reference Number



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

Extended information about this artwork

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