The Posada Art Foundation says that Posada’s skeleton, known as the calavera, is possibly the most popular imagery he created and he is generally attributed to the popularisation of the calavera images that became a well-known symbol seen around the Day of the Dead. Another artist, Manuel Manilla, is also often accredited with the creation of calavera artwork as well.
One of the most iconic calaveras that Posada created is known as La Calavera Catrina and depicts a skeleton in a large hat adorned with flowers. The first known date that she was used was in 1913, and was likely published around eight months after Posada’s death, the foundation said.
Posada’s work was often satirical and caricatured the living, including themes such as religion, politics and social class, the Library of Congress said.
The artist’s work appeared in many different ways, from flyers, posters, brochures and books, to working with printing houses and religious publications.
Born in 1852 in Aguascalientes, Mexico, it would have been Posada’s 172nd birthday today. Posada enrolled in the Municipal Academy of Drawing in Aguascalientes sometime in the 1860s.
After doing an apprenticeship at a print shop owned by Jose Trinidad Pedroza, where it is thought he learned lithography, he got his first publication of political cartoons in a local newspaper at the age of 19.
He would continue to work in the world of publication when he moved to León, Guanajuato, where he ran a printing and lithography workshop, at first with Pedroza, then on his own. During this time, he created some of his finest lithographic work, the foundation said.
Eventually, he moved on to Mexico City and opened his first workshop and, at some point, began working for the publishing house of Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. The foundation said that a reported low adult literacy rate could have possibly motivated the publishing house to hire Posada as chief illustrator.
His work has gone on to influence and inspire how graphic art progressed into the 20th century. Today’s Google Doodle has also been inspired by Posada’s iconic skeleton motif. The doodle was created on a pink clay-like mould.
Posada died in Mexico City, Mexico on 20 January 1913 at the age of 60.