La Venganza de los Pueblos..., 1942 by Leopoldo Mendez (1902-1969), Mexico
by Leopoldo Mendez (1902-1969), Mexico
11” high x 9” wide (paper size)
20.25” high x 17” wide (framed)
La Venganza de los Pueblos... was one of 25 prints from the Portfolio 25 Prints of Leopoldo Mendez printed in 1943. This print is one of 100 numbered copies, and signed in pencil, lower right. Published by La Estampa Mexicana, Mexico City. This impression is in mint condition.
This print depicts Yugoslavian resistance from a massacred and burning town brandish an assortment of weapons as they rush towards German soldiers led by Hitler. A large man wields an axe over his shoulder, ready to strike a blow to Hitler. The German leader hunches over the corpses of murdered babies. A church burns and several corpses hang and lie scattered along the ground. Following behind Hitler are Mussolini and Emperor Hirohito.
Leopoldo Mendez, muralist, printmaker, painter, political activist, teacher, administrator, father and husband, was born in Mexico City on June 30, 1902, the youngest of eight children. At age fifteen, Mendez became the youngest student to have enrolled in the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied with Saturnine Herran, Leandro Izaguirre, Ignacio Rosas, German Gedovius, and Francisco de la Torre. Following his graduation, he continued his studies at Escuela de Pintura al Aire Libre (the plein-air Impressionist school founded by Alfredo Ramos Martinez, until 1922.
To keep himself financially afloat while creating his art, he designed book jackets, taught drawing and printmaking in elementary and technical schools, and contributed drawings and prints to journals and liberal publications. In 1930, he made his first trip to the United States with a group of friends; while there, he was invited to illustrate a limited edition of Heinrich Heine's The God's in Exile.
One of the founders of the Liga de Escritores y Artistas (LEAR), Mendez is perhaps most well-known as the leader and co-founder of the Taller de Grafica Popular. Founded in 1937 by Leopoldo Méndez, Luis Arenal, and American-born Pablo O’Higgins, the TGP emerged and evolved in the crucible of antifascist and leftist politics in Mexico in the period surrounding World War II. This milieu shaped not only the workshop’s dedication to a collective printmaking model but also its production aimed at both “the people” and discerning collectors, a strategy necessitated by the era’s quickly changing political tides. The collective created works for groups spanning the leftist and progressive political spectrum, including the government of Lázaro Cárdenas and his successors, the Mexican Communist Party, major trade unions, and antifascist organizations.
As well, he joined the Stridentists, a group of artists, writers and musicians whose goals were not unlike those of Dadaists and Futurists. He became known internationally for his art and activism, and received many awards and appointments for his works and accomplishments in both fields. Among these include the Guggenheim Fellowship for travel and study in the U.S.; the International Peace Prize in Vienna; was appointed from Mexico to the World Congress of Intellectuals for Peace in Poland; and the Posada Prize for Printmaking at the Second InterAmerican Biennial of Painting, Printmaking, and Sculpture, among others.
Leopoldo Mendez died in Mexico City on February 8, 1969