La Calavera Catrina

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La Calavera Catrina

Professor Catherine Chauvin – Relief – Fall 2022

This famous relief print was designed to be a satire referencing middle class people in Mexico who were obsessed with high-society Europe. It was created by the Mexican artist and engraver Jose Guadalupe Posada, who worked in print shops using lithography and engraving in wood and metal. What drew these illustrations together and helped Posada’s fame was the sketch’s central motif: Posada’s figures, regardless of occupation, class, or status, were represented with skulls for faces. These skull caricatures, or calaveras, would depict anything from national tragedies to current events and popular figures.

The image was later turned into a mural in Mexico City by Diego Rivera, which pictured a central La Catrina in an ostentatious full-length gown linking arms with Posada himself and also Rivera’s wife, the artist Frida Kahlo. The mural–Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central–became a cultural treasure, and further amplified La Catrina’s image in the Mexican national consciousness.

The Fall 2022 Relief class used small samples of La Calavera Catrina to explore carving on linoleum, using various tools and black and white line processes.