Posada, Génie de la gravure (Posada, Engraving Genius) by Lætitia Bianchi
In a groundbreaking monograph, the writer and illustrator Lætitia Bianchi shares her passion for the work of José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913), the illustrious Mexican engraver known for his depictions of happy skeletons. A bizarre journey to the land of the dead.
A sense of experimentation
Between writing and drawing, the press and books, and words and colour, Lætitia Bianchi is a prolific figure in publishing. In 2000 she co-founded the R de réel literary journal then Le Tigre magazine in 2006, where she served as editor-in-chief and artistic director until 2014. She is also the author of Voyez-vous (See Yourself, 2002), a poetic text published by Verticales, and radio fiction for France Culture (Petites vies des grands hommes or Small Lives of Great Men, 2012).
Also an illustrator, Lætitia Bianchi contributed to the Livre des serpents et des échelles (Book of Snakes and Ladders, 2007), a work inspired by a Mexican snakes and ladders game, and illustrated L’Affaire Furtif (The Furtive Affair) by Sylvain Prudhomme (2010).
In 2019 she published Posada, Génie de la gravure with L’Association, the first monograph dedicated to the Mexican engraver José Guadalupe Posada.
Monograph of an engraver
The 400 engravings assembled in Posada, Génie de la gravure explore the major universal themes as addressed by the Mexican artist and engraver José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913): God, revolution, childhood, death, high society mores and poverty...
Lætitia Bianchi recontextualises these drawings and annotates them to shed light on their genesis, such as the calaveras ("skulls" in Spanish) which ironically embody the function of memento mori.
In 2013 Lætitia Bianchi travelled to Aguascalientes, Posada's home town, to research the comparison between European dances of death and "happy death" as depicted by Posada through his calaveras. She moved to Mexico, where she continued researching the engraver until 2017.
Lætitia Bianchi brings together 400 engravings from the collection of Mercurio Lopez Casillas, a bookseller and art historian who has Posada's most comprehensive collection in Mexico.
With this monograph, the French-Mexican writer Laetitia Bianchi works as a broker between Mexican culture and the French public, the engraver’s drawings having travelled the world and popularised the concept of “happy death” that Mexican culture claims.
With swords in hands and hats on their heads, the engraver’s happy skeletons tell us that the boundary between the living and the dead has been abolished – a message in the eminently universal sense.
In the context of the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, the Institut français wishes to continue offering you portraits, meetings with creators from all walks of life, works and portfolios. We hope these few pages will bring some breathing space back into an everyday shaped by lockdown.
Winner of an Institut français Stendhal Residency, Lætitia Bianchi was in Mexico in 2013.
The Stendhal programme allows french authors or authors living in France to travel to a foreign country and work on a writing project related to that country. Learn more about the Stendhal programme