One-time movie poster artists.
(a link to the related movie poster gallery is at the bottom of this page)
Mexican movie poster art is unique. Talented artists, local and foreign, contributed to it. Many of them remained anonymous, while others were known and even celebrated. Such is the case of the Renau brothers, José Espert and Francisco Rivero Gil among the foreign, and Ernesto García Cabral, J. Antonio Vargas Briones, Antonio Arias Bernal, and Leopoldo Mendoza, on the Mexican side.
Additionally, some outstanding artists in other fields, like caricature, costume design, and painting, made one-time stints into Mexican movie poster art.
We will first mention David Carrillo, one of the most relevant Mexican cartoonists. He was one of the Mexican Caricaturists Society’s founders, and also served as its chairman. His works have been exhibited in several venues, and compiled by himself in six books. The 93 year-old artist has been honored in Querétaro, México, in June 2013, for his 70th professional anniversary. Mr. Carrillo is also an accomplished painter and portrait artist.
He was interviewed by Rogelio Agrasánchez Jr. in 1992, and the conversation is featured here.
David Carrillo was good friends with Jesús Martínez Palillo, a celebrated tent theatre comedian known for his daring political satires. Carrillo use to design publicity materials for Palillo’s theatrical shows. When the comedian starred in his second movie, Palillo Vargas Heredia (Carlos Véjar Jr., 1943), the cartoonist made the poster for it. The image is a splendid caricature of Palillo, three-ink printed.
Mr. Carrillo also remembers he designed two more posters: one for La Virgen que forjó una Patria (Julio Bracho, 1942) and the other for La hija del panadero (a.k.a. Cuando los hijos odian, Joselito Rodríguez, 1949). We have not been able to confirm his designs were actually used. The only poster known for La Virgen que forjó una Patria is that of José Espert.
Manuel de Rugama (or D’Rugama, as he signed his works), prestigious theatrical designer, contributed a movie poster for Cruel destino (Juan Orol, 1943). It is a fine portrait of the film’s leading lady, María Antonieta Pons, in a manola costume.
In 1948, a portrait of actress Columba Domínguez by Miguel Covarrubias was reproduced in the poster for Pueblerina (Emilio Fernández, 1948). The portrait shows young Columba in a peasant dress; her hair in braids. Her eyes have a look that has been described as ‘magical’.
Miguel Covarrubias was a very talented painter and caricaturist. He also had a passion for anthropology and ethnology. He wrote several books, some of them published in the United States. Covarrubias was also an art historian, and held different official positions related to art promotion and preservation.
Ramón Peinador Checa was a renowned stage design in his native Spain. He arrived in Mexico as an exile, after the Republican Government defeat in the Spanish Civil War. Peinador Checa was also an accomplished painter, illustrator, and costume designer. Only one movie poster made by him is known; the one he designed for En carne viva (Alberto Gout, 1950). The drawing is impressive. In the foreground, one sees sultry Rosa Carmina in a rumbera costume, while a beautiful cubism-inspired depiction of a couple –Crox Alvarado and Rosa Carmina- stands out the background. Update: thanks to don Ramón Peinador's family, we learnt that the artist made in fact many movie posters in Mexico. They have published an excellent entry for him in Wikipedia.
In 1957, a celebrated Mexican political cartoonist, journalist, writer, and illustrator, made just one poster for a film; he was Abel Quezada. His works were regularly published in major newspapers and magazines in Mexico and in the United States, and also compiled in about two dozen volumes. Quezada designed the poster for Donde las dan, las toman (Juan Bustillo Oro). His caricature of a playing mariachi in this 3-ink poster is very funny.
José Luis Cuevas, the famous Mexican artist, had a small part as himself in the movie Los amigos, made in 1968. Ícaro Cisneros, the journalist, screenplay writer and filmmaker, directed it. Cuevas made a poster for Los amigos. Though another, more conventional, design was used for the one-sheet, the Neo Figurativism artist’s drawing appeared in some ads.
In 1974, two movies were publicized with posters made by German artist Helmut Bernhardt. He immigrated to Mexico several decades ago.
His art shows the influence of painters like Klee and Kandinsky, and of the Bauhaus movement. The movie posters he designed, unlike most of his art, are figurative: El llanto de la tortuga (Francisco del Villar), and Más negro que la noche (Carlos Enrique Taboada).
Multitalented Alberto Isaac, best known as an accomplished cartoonist, screenplay writer and filmmaker that belonged to the ‘Nuevo cine mexicano’, designed two splendid caricature posters for Mexican movies. The first one was made for Tívoli, a film he also wrote and directed in 1974. Six years later, he wrote the screenplay and designed the poster for ¡PUM! (José Estrada, 1980).
Eduardo del Río, better known by his penname, Rius, is one of the best known Mexican contemporary cartoonists and intellectuals. He was published more than one hundred illustrated, comic-like books about subjects that go from health to history and political criticism. His comics ‘Los Supermachos’ and ‘Los Agachados’ were a must read for many Mexicans during the 1970s, due to their well documented content, satirical views, and endearing characters. In 1973, Alfonso Arau directed Calzonzin inspector, based on ‘Los Supermachos’ main character. Rius made the movie poster.
Finally, we will mention another artist, this time a woman: the Ecuadorian Judith Gutiérrez, who spent most of her life in Mexico. She was a religious and spiritual person, and that is reflected in her works, which also had the influence of Byzantine, prehispanic, and Latin American folkloric art. Some critics called her style “Tropical Byzantine”. She made the poster for the surrealistic film Pafnucio Santo, directed by
Rafael Corkidi in 1976. Her drawing shows what critics of her work define as “modern Primitivism”.
Once more, one can say Mexican movie poster art has much more to offer art lovers than meets the eye. Established movie posters artists and one-time contributors created a rich world of forms, color, and culture of a value that goes well beyond that of mere publicity tools.
To see a gallery of all the above mentioned posters, please click here.