19 May to 27 August 2017
Kunsthaus Zürich presents an overview of the development of Mexican graphic art, from late 19th-century figurativism to the earliest abstract works in the 1970s. Many of the exhibits are receiving their first showing in Switzerland.The exhibition opens with the 19th-century social satires and skeleton images (‘calaveras’) of the internationally renowned graphic artists Manuel Manilla and José Guadalupe Posada. It then spans the arc from Ignacio Aguirre, Alberto Beltrán, Fernando Castro Pacheco, Jean Charlot, Leopoldo Mendéz and Alfredo Zalce to ‘los tres grandes’ (‘The Three Greats’): Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, who produced a large number of murals – ‘muralismo mexicano’ –on political, nationalistic and social issues between the 1920s and 1970s.
POPULAR, SOCIALIST, INTERNATIONAL
Some outstanding works come from the Taller de Gráfica Popular –a people’s graphic art workshop established in 1937 by a collective of international artists in Mexico, whose members produced flyers and posters for the masses supporting trade unions, popular education and socialist issues in the country. Revolutionary ideas and engagement with socio-cultural and socio-political concerns play a key role in the history of Mexican art. The editions published by the Taller de Gráfica Popular/La Estampa Mexicana on show at the Kunsthaus exemplify the typical Mexican tradition of black-and-white woodcuts and linoleum prints. The images depict Mexican life and the customs and characteristics of its indigenous populations, but also include the country’s first forays into abstract art.
MANY WORKS RECEIVING THEIR FIRST PUBLIC SHOWING
The exhibition curated by art historian Milena Oehy comprises 47 works on paper by 27 artists who live or lived in Mexico. More than half are being shown for the first time in Switzerland. These important works, printed using a range of techniques between the late 19th century and the 1970s, deal with issues such as poverty and wealth, love and cruelty, and the poetry and hardships of everydaylife. In addition to prints by José Guadalupe Posada, there are characteristic Realist works by Leopoldo Méndez, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros as well as abstracts by Rufino Tamayo and Francisco Toledo. Four photographs by Armin Haab on loan from the Fotostiftung Schweiz complete the presentation.
ARMIN HAAB, HIS COLLECTION AND THE KUNSTHAUS