In the early 1940s, Art Institute director Daniel Catton Rich traveled to Mexico to broker what would become the first exhibition exchange arranged by the Mexican government with an American museum. As a result of Rich’s negotiations, José Guadalupe Posada: Printmaker to the Mexican People opened at the Art Institute in the spring of 1944, subsequently traveling to Philadelphia and Brooklyn. Also during the wartime years, Art Institute curators Katharine Kuh and Carl Schniewind acquired for the museum hundreds of works by Posada and by the leading members of the Taller de Gráfica Popular (Popular Graphic Art Workshop). These acquisitions form the core of the Art Institute’s permanent collection of Mexican prints, to which important additions have been made in the intervening decades. In 2006 and 2007 the Art Institute presented the engaging two-part exhibition José Guadalupe Posada and the Mexican Broadside, curated by Diane Miliotes. Now, exactly seventy years after the groundbreaking Posada exhibition brought about by Rich, the Art Institute is pleased to reaffirm its commitment to the tradition of printmaking in Mexico through the present exhibition, What May Come: The Taller de Gráfica Popular and the Mexican Political Print.
In the course of developing this exhibition, the Art Institute has benefited from partnerships with local institutions that share a passion for the arts of Mexico. Our understanding of the Taller de Gráfica Popular and its impact has been enhanced by active dialogue with our colleagues at the National Museum of Mexican Art, the Katz Center for Mexican Studies at the University of Chicago, and the Mexican Consulate of Chicago.
The catalogue, exhibition, and related public programs are the result of widespread collaboration within the museum, including contributions from many individuals: Erin Hogan, Head of Interpretation and Communication; Paul Jones, Chai Lee, and Lauren Schultz, Department of Public Affairs and Communication; Jack Brown, Melanie Emerson, Christine Fabian, Autumn Mather, and Seth Vanek, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries; Bart Ryckbosch and Deborah Webb, Institutional Archives; Judith Kirshner, Margaret Farr, David Hernandez, Allison Muscolino, David Stark, and Georgina Valverde, Department of Museum Education; Robert Sharp, Sarah Guernsey, Lauren Makholm, Wilson McBee, Joseph Mohan, and Christine Schwab, Publications Department; and Salvador Cruz, Jr., Department of Graphic Design.
Within the Department of Prints and Drawings, conservation treatment and technical research were carried out by Associate Conservator Kristi Dahm, under the supervision of Senior Conservator Antoinette Owen. Victoria Sancho Lobis, Prince Trust Associate Curator, shepherded the exhibition and publication through to completion. Curator Mark Pascale contributed his expertise in printmaking and knowledge of the permanent collections. Assistant Curator Suzanne Karr Schmidt and intern Fuko Ito facilitated the interactive component within the galleries, and interns Katie Chung and Tiffany Suh helped with cataloguing. Very special thanks are due to intern Chloe Lundgren, whose dedicated work researching the collection and preparing the exhibition was essential to the project. This exhibition would not have been possible without the enthusiasm of Martha Tedeschi, former member of the Department of Prints and Drawings and now Deputy Director for Art and Research, and Suzanne Folds McCullagh, Anne Vogt Fuller and Marion Titus Searle Chair and Curator, Department of Prints and Drawings.
The Kemper Educational and Charitable Trust generously provided support for the publication of the catalogue, for which we are most grateful.
Finally, it is my pleasure to recognize Diane Miliotes, guest curator for this exhibition. Diane’s careful research has shed light on the Art Institute’s historic role in the exhibition and preservation of graphic arts produced in Mexico. We thank her for advancing the study of this rich subject.
President and Eloise W. Martin Director
The Art Institute of Chicago