Pelea de Gallos (Cockfight) by Leopoldo Mendez

Pelea de Gallos (Cockfight) by Leopoldo Mendez

Pelea de Gallos (Cockfight)

Leopoldo Mendez

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Pelea de Gallos (Cockfight)

Image Size
12 x 16 1/2" image 
pencil, lower right 
Edition Size
not stated 
dated 1949 beneath signature 
ivory wove 
Inventory ID

"Cockfight" is the eighth of ten dramatic linocuts that appear monumentally reproduced in the first sequence of the film "Pueblerina" (1949). This represents the second time Mendez collaborated with the Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa.

In the film Aurelio returns to his town after serving a sentence for avenging the rape of his beloved Paloma at the hands of Julio González. Upon arrival, he finds out that his mother has died and that Paloma lives in exile from the town with her son, the result of her rape. Aurelio wants to marry Paloma and forget the past, but the evil Julio and his brother Ramiro are not willing to leave them alone. The Chiquita song, the main theme of the film, was performed by the Trío Calavera, authored by Nicolás Pérez Leyva.

Aurelio (in white): a cockfight and an equestrian race, alluded to by the boards and machetes arranged in the background and which serve as markers in the competition between the two horsemen. Leopoldo Méndez, muralist, printmaker, painter, political activist, teacher, and administrator, was born in Mexico City on 30 June 1902, the youngest of eight children. At the age of fifteen, Méndez 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 open-air painting school founded by Alfredo Ramos Martinez) until 1922.

To keep himself financially afloat while creating his art, Méndez 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 Gods in Exile. Méndez was one of the founders of the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (LEAR), but he is perhaps most well-known as the leader and co-founder of the Taller de Gráfica Popular, a cooperative printmaking workshop dedicated to serving the needs of the Mexican people.

Méndez 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 for his accomplishments in both fields. Among these were a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 1938 for travel and study in the U.S.; appointment to the World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace, held in Poland in 1948; the Premio Internacional de la Paz del Consejo Mundial de Partidarios de la Paz in 1952 which was presented in Vienna the following year; and in 1960 he received the José Guadalupe Posada Prize in Printmaking at the Second Interamerican Biennial of Painting, Printmaking, and Sculpture sponsored by the City of México.

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


Please call us at 707-546-7352 or email to purchase this item.