El Dia de Los Muertos: The Life of the Dead in Mexican Folk Art

Serpentine South Gallery 2 November 1987 — 10 January 1988 Free

This exhibition offered an insight into The Day of the Dead, an annual celebration in Mexico during which the souls of the deceased are ‘resurrected’ by craftspeople and depicted in a variety of media and contexts.

In the market place, vendors offer for sale not only clay skeleton-like toys, sweets, and breads, but also clay pots and bowls, which are integral parts of the formal celebrations. Such ofrendas, or offerings, are often presented in the form of altars, and were presented in the exhibition, along with an example of decorative zompantli, a wall of papier-mâché skulls.

The largest and most spectacular exhibits in the show, however, were a number of sculptures by the Linares family. They translated Diego Rivera’s mural Sueño de Una Tarde de Domingo en La Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Central Alameda, 1946-7) into 15 eight-foot-tall skeletons, representing many of the mural’s central figures, including José Guadalupe Posada, Frida Kahlo, the ‘Muerte Catrina’ character, and a youthful Diego Rivera.


Selected Mexican artists, The Linares Family


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