The history of Hispanic printmaking is the history of triumph over struggle and political strife. No matter where they are in the world- Mexico, Spain, South America, it seems as though Hispanic artists and in particular printmakers have and continue to show the world the persistence of the human spirit.
For 2020's Hispanic Heritage Month, we are highlighting our Top 5 Hispanic Printmakers. There are so many well known Hispanic artists and, being a printmaker myself, I wanted to showcase the perhaps less well known graphic artists. Some of these were also painters and/or sculptors but their contribution to the realm of printmaking cannot be underscored. So, here they are...and please, leave us your favorite Hispanic artists in the comments, we are always in need of adding to our own knowledge base!
18th-19th Century: Francisco de Goya y Lucientes "Disasters of War"
I was so fortunate about 3 years ago to view the Disasters of War series of Goya's etchings IN PERSON! They were laid out at the Oakland Museum of California under glass of course, but they were still amazing! Small and intimate, full of horror and emotion that resonated just as strongly then as they must have when they were created. Goya was the Spanish "court painter" although his political printmaking was far removed from the Romantic work he did for his royal duties. The Disasters of War were raw, visceral line etchings about the French Napoleonic invasion of Spain. They are extremely difficult to look at, but pioneered the Modern Realism Movement in their uncompromising truth.
19th-20th Century: José Guadalupe Posada "La Calavera Catrina"
The "Father of Mexican printmaking" Posada was a consummate draftsman, prolific artist and looked to by some of the most famous Mexican muralists for inspiration and authority including Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco. Posada's best known works are his calaveras, which often assume various costumes, such as the La Calavera Catrina, she is offered as a satirical portrait of those Mexican natives who, Posada felt, were aspiring to adopt European aristocratic traditions in the pre-revolution era. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Guadalupe_Posada)
20th Century: Isabel Villaseñor
Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Isabel Villaseñor was one of only two female artists represented at the "Mexican Arts" show at the Met in New York in 1930. In addition to printmaking, Villaseñor was also a sculptor, painter, actress, poet and songwriter. Some say she never recovered from the death of her son in 1934 and died of a heart attack when she was only 44. Although not widely known, her contribution to the post-revolutionary war period of art in Mexico and the United States is evident and she is definitely someone to look up!
20th-21st Century: Antoni Tàpies
Antoni Tàpies is an influential printmaker and painter of Catalan, Spain. His work in mixed media both in painting and printmaking was revolutionary and led to experimental techniques using carborundum on panels and printing like etchings- a precursor to Collagraph. His assemblage paintings with sand and marble dust, string and other materials were a lot like his New York contemporaries Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, as well as influenced later artists like German, Anselm Kiefer.
Contemporary: Enrique Chagoya "The illegal aliens guide to the concept of relative surplus value"
A local Bay Area artist, Enrique Chagoya was born in Mexico City, and now teaches printmaking at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Drawing from his experiences living on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border in the late 70’s, and also in Europe in the late 90’s, Enrique Chagoya juxtaposes secular, popular, and religious symbols in order to address the ongoing cultural clash between the United States, Latin America and the world as well. He uses familiar pop icons to create deceptively friendly points of entry for the discussion of complex issues. Through these seemingly harmless characters Chagoya examines the recurring subject of colonialism and oppression that continues to riddle contemporary American foreign policy. (https://art.stanford.edu/people/enrique-chagoya)