Jose Guadalupe Posada: The Iconic Printmaker and his Legacy in Popular Culture runs now through May 15 at the Fullerton Museum Center.

As a father of political satire, Jose Guadalupe Posada found a unique way to criticize the corrupt politicians and elite of 19th century Mexico: printing criticism on cartoon skulls or Calaveras. Unfortunately, criticizing politicians was considered off-limits. Little recourse was possible as it seemed petty to retaliate against an artist who made simple cartoons. And with that, a legacy of political cartoons was born.

Posada, a lithographer, used wood engravings to make relief printings, some of which are now on display at the Fullerton Museum Center. In addition, works by artists such as Lalo Alcaraz, Gina Davidson and the Kalli Art Collective are also on display. All meant to complement and comment on Posada’s legacy.

Lalo Alcaraz and Gina Davidson are two of several featured artists in Jose Guadalupe Posada: The Iconic Printmaker and his Legacy in Popular Culture, an exhibition running at the Fullerton Museum Center.

Lalo Alcaraz and Gina Davidson are two of several featured artists in Jose Guadalupe Posada: The Iconic Printmaker and his Legacy in Popular Culture, an exhibition running at the Fullerton Museum Center. Photo credit: Eulalia Saucedo

Posada created more than 20,000 works of art in his lifetime. All are done in black ink, except for four printings. Fortunately, these four are part of the exhibition.

Of the over 20,000 works of art he created, Jose Guadalupe Posada only made four in color, which are currently on display at the Fullerton Museum Center.

Of the over 20,000 works of art he created, Jose Guadalupe Posada only made four in color, which are currently on display at the Fullerton Museum Center. Photo credit: Eulalia Saucedo

“He has left a lasting legacy not just in the Chicano, Mexican community but his work has been used on The Grateful Dead albums,” said Elvia Susana Rubalcava, executive director of the Fullerton Museum Center. “His imagery of Calaveras for the Day of the Dead are still very present in our culture.”

A wide range of Posada’s lithographs are featured, touching on topics of political satire, religious figures, and social commentary. Much of the work had been printed in newspapers at the time, as well as chapbooks, small books showcasing popular songs. The original plates he created and used to print are also on display.

Works by other artists feature Calaveras, tributes to Posada, or political commentaries, such as the work of Lalo Alcaraz, who reflects on the pandemic and the January 6 United States capitol attack. Celeste de Luna’s large art mimics a lithographic style. A movie theater in the museum plays a video on Posada, with other artwork filling the theater.

"PTD Landscape" by Celeste DeLuna hangs as part of Jose Guadalupe Posada: The Iconic Printmaker and his Legacy in Popular Culture, an exhibition running at the Fullerton Museum Center.

“PTD Landscape” by Celeste DeLuna hangs as part of Jose Guadalupe Posada: The Iconic Printmaker and his Legacy in Popular Culture, an exhibition running at the Fullerton Museum Center. Photo credit: Eulalia Saucedo

“One of the things that was devastating to me to learn is that Posada died a pauper. He died buried in an unmarked grave. He had not a penny to his name, even though he was such a culture bearer for Mexico,” said Consuelo G. Flores, curator of the exhibition. Posada died in 1913. Flores said an ending for a man with such a legacy should give us cause to reflect.

Self Help Graphics, a community center in East Los Angeles, lent several works of art to the exhibition, Jose Guadalupe Posada: The Iconic Printmaker and his Legacy in Popular Culture, currently running at the Fullerton Museum Center.

Self Help Graphics, a community center in East Los Angeles, lent several works of art to the exhibition, Jose Guadalupe Posada: The Iconic Printmaker and his Legacy in Popular Culture, currently running at the Fullerton Museum Center. Photo credit: Eulalia Saucedo

The museum is open Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 12-4 p.m., and Thursdays, 12-8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children five and over, and free for children under 5. Members get free admission. Annual membership starts at $30 for students.

Author profile

Eulalia Saucedo (she/her) is an art history major from Whittier, CA. She enjoys contemporary art, screenwriting and watching bad movies with her friends.