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Between and Mortarboard


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Lo que puede venir

Accession Number
1949/1.181

Title
Lo que puede venir

Artist(s)
Leopoldo Méndez

Artist Nationality
Mexican

Object Creation Date
1945

Medium & Support
woodcut on paper

Dimensions
12 in x 6 15/16 in (30.48 cm x 17.62 cm);14 ¼ in x 10 ⅜ in (36.2 cm x 26.35 cm);22 ⅛ in x 18 ⅛ in (56.2 cm x 46.04 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Subject matter
This print is one of a series of three self-portraits Méndez created around this time. The artist depicts himself here signing and dating the large book, a sketchbook, on which he lays. While he sketches, he contemplates the nightmarish vision that unfolds behind him. There is a mixture of Mexican and European symbolism—the eagle, snake and nopal cactus are refences to the Aztec pictograph for their capital city of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) and its founding legend. However, the eagle no longer is perched on the cactus but is crucified on a cross that takes the shape of a Nazi swastika. Made at the end of the Second World War, this vision of Mexico's capital being invaded by fascist troops supported by Catholic clerics critiques recent history of the Mexican state involvement in the conflict. This work combines a social realist aesthetic with the politically-charged uses of native Mexican imagery typical of the work of the Taller de Grafica Popular founded by Méndez in 1937.

Physical Description
In the foreground, there is a man laying on a large human-sized book, one hand on his chin and the other holding a pencil to the page. In front of his pencil, the text "Mendez" and "1945" is printed. On the pages of the book are a skeleten-creature and on the opposite page an angel. Behind the man and the book is a large cactus, and then a large cross rises from its base. The cross is encircled by a large snake-like creature whose head is open, facing away, and an eagle is crucified with knives. Coming from the ends of the cross are what seems to be spears, pointing clockwise. Behind this foreground scene, there is an army marching under a flag with the skull and crossbones. A priest follows behind the army, seemingly coming from the open mouth of the large serpent whose tail holds the feet of the crucified eagle. To the left there are two more crucified figures, whose crosses are on fire. In the far background, there is a vista of a large city. 

Primary Object Classification
Print

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
Caryophyllales (order)
Christian clergy
Mexico
angels (spirits)
cobras (serpents)
crucifixions
eagles
eagles (birds)
fascism
modern and contemporary art
skeletons (animal components)
sketchbooks
swastikas

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& Author Notes

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