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Calaveras of the National Mausoleum

A work made of wood engraving in black on grayish-ivory china paper.
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City

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  • A work made of wood engraving in black on grayish-ivory china paper.


1934, printed 1942


Leopoldo Méndez
Mexican, 1902-1969

About this artwork

In 1942 the Taller de Gráfica Popular published a portfolio of Méndez’s prints, including some of his most famous caricatures from the early 1930s. Méndez often engaged in pointed satire in these works, which were representive of the era’s divisive politics. Fool’s Concert, for example, mocks important postrevolutionary cultural figures, including the muralists Rivera, who appears on the left as a promoter of indigenism, and Siqueiros, whose loyalty to communism is suggested by his sickleharp. Calaveras of the National Mausoleum, perhaps the first use of the calavera in postrevolutionary prints, portrays the elite inauguration of the Palacio de Bellas Artes. It brands the skeletons of Rivera and Carlos Riva Palacio, head of the Partido Nacional Revolucionario, as reactionary capitalists, and in Rivera’s case, ironically as a sympathizer of the Fourth International, led by the Soviet dissident Leon Trotsky.

En 1942 el Taller de Gráfica Popular publicó un portafolio de grabados realizados por Méndez en el que se incluían algunas de sus caricaturas más célebres de inicios de la década de 1930. Representativas de las divisivas políticas de la época, en ellas Méndez no pocas veces desplegó una sátira punzante. En Concierto de los locos, por ejemplo, Méndez hace burla de importantes figuras de la cultura posrevolucionaria mexicana, entre ellas los muralistas Rivera —quien aparece a la izquierda como promotor del indigenismo— y Siqueiros, cuya lealtad al comunismo se sugiere por el arpa en forma de hoz. Por otro lado, Calaveras del Mausoleo Nacional —que quizás es el primer ejemplo del uso de las calaveras en grabados posrevolucionarios— representa el elitismo que caracterizó a la inauguración del Palacio de Bellas Artes. Las calaveras de Rivera y Carlos Riva Palacio, líder del Partido Nacional Revolucionario, los hacen aparecer como capitalistas reaccionarios y, en el caso de Rivera, irónicamente también como simpatizante de la Cuarta Internacional, dirigida por el disidente soviético León Trotsky.

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Prints and Drawings


Leopoldo Méndez


Calaveras of the National Mausoleum




Made 1934


Wood engraving in black on grayish-ivory China paper


229 x 169 mm (image); 247 x 204 mm (sheet)

Credit Line

The Joseph Brooks Fair Collection

Reference Number



© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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