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April 07, 2017


Leopoldo Mendez lived til 1969...if they are not our contemporaries they are our immediate antecedents, verdad..Mexico city is simply the oldest and culturally richest city on the continent.

Thanks, Sam - I didn't know Mendez lived until 1969. And I completely agree about Mexico City - I wish more North Americans would visit and discover this truth for themselves. A part of my heart remains there all year, I really care about the city and its people, and I feel it's given me a great deal.

I received an email from a friend, L., that said, "You noted the vigor and freedom of the marks, but I wonder if like me your readers are interested why (as a carver?) clearly they were unplanned. I realize a blog is not a restaurant where people place orders for topics, and trust you'll ignore the idea--and this note--if you please." OK, I'm happy to try to answer. In the print in question, if we look at the whole image (top of this post) we can see the marching figures on the right, representing the people of the revolution, depicted with a lot of solidity and verticality, and swirling around them, the rest of the image, representing the newspapers, the press. That compositional idea was almost certainly worked out in the original drawing. But when we transfer a drawing to linoleum, we're limited by how much detail we can include, first of all because it's difficult to transfer (via carbon paper or rubbing graphite on the back of a drawing)-- you try to get the main elements onto the lino. Then the artist may go over the lines with ink, adding some detail - for instance, Zalce would have drawn the figures and the basic features of their faces, but I very much doubt he would have added lines indicating the direction of the marks he was planning to carve. If you look in the detail (second image down), see how he has carved the shapes of the hats in the back two rows. These marks are very free, and each hat is individual. So are the faces. So are the suits of clothes.

The marks you carve usually describe the contour of the form, though not always. It's one of the things I am noticing about my own learning curve -- gradually, with experience and practice, you develop a greater innate sense of what to do and how to do it "on the fly.' This is a great example of how a master carver does it - with his tools, he has clearly suggested the flat front of the overalls, the thick lapels of the suits, a tucked white shirt, a straw hat. And then in the background, the carving is even more free, creating a sense of movement around the marching figures. He would have planned to do it this way, but I very much doubt he would have drawn it in detail first.

I hope that helps a little!

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.