México 200, a Celebration of the Mexican Bicentennial at the Dallas Museum of Art

Exhibitions Mark the 30th Presentation of Mexican Art in Nearly 70 Years of Museum History

The Dallas Museum of Art will commemorate the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence with nine months of celebratory events focusing on Mexico’s long tradition of powerful and exquisite artistry and highlighting major works of Mexican art in the DMA’s collections. As part of the México 200 program, two special exhibitions of modern Mexican art featuring works by José Guadalupe Posada and modern works on paper open on June 18. These exhibitions mark the 29th and 30th exhibition of Mexican art at the DMA since the Museum began recording its exhibitions in 1941.

José Guadalupe Posada and Tierra y Gente: Modern Mexican Works on Paper, both part of the Museum’s nine-month celebration of Mexico’s bicentennial, invite the community to learn about and engage with stunning works by some of the most important and influential Mexican artists,” said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director. “We are so pleased to present these two exhibitions that highlight the DMA’s commitment to Mexican art and Mexico.”

José Guadalupe Posada, who was born in 1852 and who died poor and unknown in 1913, is now considered the most influential Mexican artist of the early 20th century. Such acclaimed Mexican artists as Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, among many others, paid tribute to him. A prolific printmaker, his pervasive images, known through penny broadsheets, leaflets, and pious or political illustrations, were very popular. They anticipate Mexican mural painting of the 1920s and 1930s. Posada is best known for his costumed skeleton characters, or calaveras, which he used for political and social satire.

“When you look at Posada’s work, you discover a very imaginative artist with powerful graphic skills who was creating for the broadest public audience,” said Olivier Meslay, Senior Curator of European and American Art and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art, and curator of the exhibition. “Posada was able to be academic yet also break all the rules. His influence on Mexican modernism and on popular culture is stupendous. I like that his work is recognizable to many people even though they do not know his name.”

In celebration of the Mexican bicentennial in 2010, the Dallas Museum of Art will showcase a number of Posada’s images in an exhibition in its Focus Gallery I including original zinc, wood and type metal plates and booklets. José Guadalupe Posada: The Birth of Mexican Modernism will provide an exceptional overview of the visual world created by Posada through prints made for conservation purposes. Within the exhibition there are six categories: Faces and Places; Murders, Marvels, and Miracles; Skeletons by the Hundreds; Skeletons on Every Street Corner; Order and Disorder; and Elegant Skeletons. Highlights include Calavera catrina (Dandy Skeleton) and El gran panteón amoroso (The Great Pantheon of Love) from the category Elegant Skeletons featuring well-dressed skeletons exemplifying his satirical talent.

Accompanying the José Guadalupe Posada exhibition is Tierra y Gente: Modern Mexican Works on Paper, which is drawn entirely from the Dallas Museum of Art’s exceptional holdings of mid-20th-century Mexican art. These prints, drawings and photographs reflect many of the major artists, styles and ideas of an astonishingly rich and internationally significant moment in the history of Mexican art. Featured in this installation are works by revered figures Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo, Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Octavio Medellin, and artists such as Pablo O’Higgins and Leopoldo Mendes who founded the important Taller Grafica Popular.

Strongly influenced by José Guadalupe Posada, Mexican artists focused on issues of political and military strife, social and economic egalitarianism and the formation of new national identities in the years following the 1910 revolution. Another aspect that unified these artists was their ingenious fusion of indigenous traditions of ancient American art and the most current ideas of international modernism, and their development of a visual language that could speak across the broadest spectrum of society.

Tierra y Gente emphasizes how artists depicted Mexican people interacting with the Mexican landscape. A striking common feature of these works is how human forms are fused with landscape in both literal and abstract ways. In these evocative renderings of land and people, artists portrayed people living on and, more metaphorically, being and becoming the land and country of Mexico itself. “Ideas and images of land and people form a powerful thread running through this extraordinarily vibrant and vital period of Mexican art that has achieved iconic status within 20th-century art history,” said Charles Wylie, the DMA’s Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art and exhibition curator. “The influence of this era is still being felt today in Mexico and around the world, and we are extremely privileged at the DMA to have such a terrific representation in our collection of these artists’ work.”

In addition, the DMA will publish for the first time a full-color bilingual brochure highlighting thirty works of Mexican art from ancient Mexico to those by modern artists such as José Miguel Covarrubias, Rufino Tamayo and Diego Rivera that can be found throughout its galleries.

México 200 is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art. The exhibitions are presented by Bimbo Bakeries USA and BBVA Compass. Additional support is provided by Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, The Texas Financial Group–Dallas. Air transportation provided by American Airlines. Promotional support provided by Metroplex Cadillac and Univision.

México 200 Exhibitions:
José Guadalupe Posada: The Birth of Mexican Modernism – Focus Gallery I
June 18–December 26, 2010

Tierra y Gente: Modern Mexican Works on Paper – Concourse
June 18, 2010–January 9, 2011

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs are its encyclopedic collections, which encompass more than 24,000 works and span 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Established in 1903, the Museum today welcomes more than 600,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings and dramatic and dance presentations.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

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Press Contact:
Jill Bernstein
Director of Public Relations
JBernstein@DallasMuseumofArt.org