Ignacio Aguirre (1900 - 1990)


    Ignacio Aguirre is widely acknowledged as one of the founding members of the Taller de Gráfica Popular. Aguirre aided in starting the workshop, founded in Mexico in 1937, alongside such artists as Leopoldo Méndez, Pablo O'Higgins and Angel Bracho. Born in December 23, 1900 in San Sebastián, Jalisco, Mexico, Aguirre received very little education before going off to join the revolutionary movement. However, even as a small child he expressed interest in painting and continued his autodidactic education in art and literature after his participation in the civil war. After fighting against Pancho Villa from 1915-1917 and then participating in the uprising against General Alvaro Obregón in 1920, Aguirre moved to Mexico City where he held several jobs from 1921 - 1929.

    Prior to the foundation of the TGP, Aguirre was a member of the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (active from 1933 - 1938). The Taller de Gráfica Popular, however, proved to be a more cohesive, stronger and longer-lasting group. The TGP included artists from Mexico as well as from abroad all brought together to foster social awareness through graphic art. The group's politically charged graphics dealt with issues from the liberation of poorer classes to opposing fascism in Germany and Japan during World War II.

    While the Second World War fostered the production of a large number of works, it was after the war that one of the most ambitious printing projects of the Taller de Gráfica Popular occurred. The Estampas de la revolución mexicana, included almost 100 works by sixteen artists. As the title suggests, the focus of these prints centred on the Mexican revolution, educating the illiterate, condemning the stealing of land from the campesinos, and exploitation of the peasant class in general. Many of the subtle and not-so-subtle symbols also give insight into the political situation during the collection's publication in 1947. Four of the sixteen artists included in the Estampas series are featured ESCALA artists - Ignacio Aguirre, Leopoldo Méndez, Jesús Alvarez Anaya and Alberto Beltrán.

    The Mexican Revolution began in 1910 as an uprising against Porfirio Díaz, Mexico's dictator for over thirty years. Under Díaz, Mexico's working class was continuously exploited as land was often given to friends of Díaz. Civil liberties such as freedom of speech had also been abolished by the dictator. Aguirre, having fought in the Mexican Revolution three decades prior to the publication of Estampas, was an eye-witness to the warring factions and rural dilemmas. ESCALA's three woodcut prints by Aguirre - Zapata hecho prisionero en la lucha en favor de los campesinos (1974), El pueblo es soberano (1974), Libertad de la prensa (1974) - reflect these themes. Aguirre succeeded Leopoldo Méndez as director of the Taller de Gráfica Popular in 1953. He died in Mexico City July 11, 1990.

    Caitlyn Collins

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