Thursday, October 27, 2011
The Voice of the Common Man
One ceaseless trend that has continued for many years and is evident not only during Halloween but year round as well, are skulls. You find them everywhere from jewelry, to tattoos, to fashion, to pottery. One such cartoonist, Jose Guadalupe Posada, created numerous skeleton illustrations that were published in a Mexican local newspaper called El Jicote (The Bumblebee). During his time, the majority of the impoverished population in Mexico City were illiterate. However the lower class were able to understand the jist of what was going on in their community through Posada's political cartoons that were placed alongside articles. His satirical illustrations strongly influenced the masses who were accustomed to corruption of the government under the reign of dictator Porfirio Díaz. Of course, the esoteric did not appreciate Posada openly poking fun at themselves so to avoid censorship or even persecution, he drew all of his subjects, regardless of class, in skeleton form. It was said that he chose to do this so that the politicians he was targeting could not be outwardly identifiable, thus avoiding censorship. However, everyone knew that his calaveras in regal costumes were meant to be the rich and powerful upperclass. Posada's illustrations became a medium of which he would show the government and people just exactly how its citizens felt about their authorities. As Posada's art was becoming an outlet for the lower class to protest the powerful politicians and upperclass, it was quickly shut down. His illustrations which were meant to make a religious or satirical political statement later became associated with the Mexican holiday "Dia de los Muertos" or "Day of the Dead."