450 Years of Struggle:
Homage to the Mexican People
2021 marks the 700th anniversary of the founding of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, 500 years of the Indigenous Resistance and 200 years of the culmination of Mexico's Independence.
Two hundred years ago, Mexico's independence was achieved. The struggle began at the midnight of September 15, 1810, when Miguel Hidalgo gave the famous "Grito de Dolores", and it ended eleven years later with the Army of the Three Guarantees, led by Agustin de Iturbide and Vicente Guerrero, entering Mexico City. It was September 27, 1821.
450 años de lucha: Homenaje al pueblo mexicano (450 Years of Struggle: Homage to the Mexican People) is a portfolio published in 1960 by the Taller de Gráfica Popular of Mexico City. It comprises 146 engravings in various media that address diverse social and political milestones in the country's history, from the fall of the great Tenochtitlán to the nationalization of the Mexican oil industry in the 1960s.
The Taller de Gráfica Popular (TGP) was established in mid-1937 in Mexico City. It was founded by artists Leopoldo Méndez, Luis Arenal, and Pablo O'Higgins. Soon, other artists joined them on their work and became members too. Through artistic expression, the TGP became a space for social and political activism.
The Taller created posters, flyers, pamphlets, postcards, or portfolios such as the one that concerns us in this book "450 Years of Struggle: Homage to the Mexican People". The artistic production of the workshop included a variety of low-cost medium and techniques, which allowed them to sustain their economy for a long period of time. Thus, they made use of original lithography with linoleum cuts, and using manual types for their graphic creation.
The TGP became the leading graphic arts workshop for disseminating political messages in the twentieth century, producing many of the great political images of the period, which include distinctive representations of Mexican history. "450 Years of Struggle: Homage to the Mexican People" presents a comprehensive overview of the different political and social events that have taken place in Mexico's history since 1521 until the middle of the twentieth century. The imagery of the prints addresses both local and international satire on politics. Following the legacy of the great illustrator José Guadalupe Posada, the TGP continued to have a critical attitude and political commitment throughout its trajectory by creating accessible posters and illustrated publications for different budgets, given that the TGP's members had an activist commitment to their artistic production.
The TGP has a Declaration of Principles in which there are five fundamental articles:
Article 1 - The Taller de Gráfica Popular is a collective working center for the functional promotion, the study of the various types of printmaking and painting and the different mediums for reproduction.
Article 2 - The Taller de Gráfica Popular will make a constant effort so that its production contributes to the support of the Mexican people to preserve and enhance the national culture, its independence, freedom, and peace.
Article 3 - The TGP considers that an art at the service of the people must reflect the social reality of its time and requires the combination of content and realistic forms. The TGP, by applying the above principle, shall work for the constant improvement of the artistic skills of its members, believing that the purpose of art in the service of the people can only be achieved with the best artistic quality.
Article 4 - The TGP shall offer its professional cooperation to other workshops or cultural institutions, to workers' organizations and to all progressive movements and institutions in general.
Article 5 - The TGP shall defend freedom of expression, in all its forms, and the professional interests of artists.
At the moment, this digital exhibition features only 20 of the 146 prints that constitute the entire portfolio. This selection covers a historical period spanning the history of Mexico from 1521 to 1824, and it will grow throughout the year to include more events covered within the book.
Caida de Tenochtitlan
La Exclavitud de los Indígenas
Los Privilegiados de la Colonia
La Destrucción del México Antiguo
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla
La Primera Constitución
Doña Antonia Nava de Catalán
Morelos el Implacable
Doña Josefa Ortíz de Domínguez
El Grito de Independencia