Leopoldo Mendez Biography

Leopoldo Mendez




Leopoldo Mendez, muralist, printmaker, painter, political activist, teacher, administrator, father and husband, was born in Mexico City on June 30, 1902, the youngest of eight children. At age fifteen, Mendez became the youngest student to have enrolled in the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied with Saturnine Herran, Leandro Izaguirre, Ignacio Rosas, German Gedovius, and Francisco de la Torre. Following his graduation, he continued his studies at Escuela de Pintura al Aire Libre (the plein-air Impressionist school founded by Alfredo Ramos Martinez, until 1922.

To keep himself financially afloat while creating his art, he designed book jackets, taught drawing and printmaking in elementary and technical schools, and contributed drawings and prints to journals and liberal publications. In 1930, he made his first trip to the United States with a group of friends; while there, he was invited to illustrate a limited edition of Heinrich Heine's The God's in Exile.

One of the founders of the Liga de Escritores y Artistas (LEAR), Mendez is perhaps most well-known as the leader and co-founder of the Taller de Grafica Popular, a cooperative printmaking workshop dedicated to serving the needs of the Mexican people. He joined the Stridentists, a group of artists, writers and musicians whose goals were not unlike those of Dadaists and Futurists. He became known internationally for his art and activism, and received many awards and appointments for his works and accomplishments in both fields. Among these include the Guggenheim Fellowship for travel and study in the U.S.; the International Peace Prize in Vienna; was appointed from Mexico to the World Congress of Intellectuals for Peace in Poland; and the Posada Prize for Printmaking at the Second InterAmerican Biennial of Painting, Printmaking, and Sculpture, among others.

Leopoldo Mendez died in Mexico City on February 8, 1969.