Story behind Mexican artist who inspired ‘La Calavera Catrina’

KSAT Day of Dead stories highlight tradition and celebration of life and death in Mexico

SAN ANTONIO – Calaveras are the decorative skulls you see everywhere during Day of the Dead, and the most popular ones we see today were inspired by a Mexican printmaker named Jose Guadalupe Posada.

Posada was born in 1852 and lived through some of Mexico’s most turbulent times. His first political cartoons were published when he was just a teenager.

They were so successful and controversial that they forced a governor out of office, but they also forced Posada to flee his new enemies.

In 1888, he moved to Mexico City and in the following years he was published in thousands of illustrated flyers.

At a time when few people could read, Posada’s calavera cartoons were popular because the images provided commentary on current politics done through biting humor.

When the Mexican revolution was just beginning, Posada published what would become his most famous image, “La Catrina.”

At the time, many of Mexico’s ruling class were obsessed with acting and looking European.

To mock them, Posada put a fancy French hat on the Aztec’s female god of death. His statement was that rich or poor we all die and death is the great equalizer.

Today, many consider Posada the father of modern Mexican art and “La Catrina” has become the icon of Day of the Dead.

Find more KSAT Day of the Dead stories below:

Ancient origins of Day of the Dead

Visit’s Day of the Dead section to learn more about the holiday

About the Authors

RJ Marquez is the traffic anchor/reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He also fills in as a news anchor and has covered stories from breaking news and Fiesta to Spurs championships and high school sports. RJ started at KSAT in 2010. He is proud to serve our viewers and be a part of the culture and community that makes San Antonio great.

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