Alberto Beltran "Manuela Sanchez" Women for the Revolution, ca. 1946, linocut, printed at Taller de Gráfica Popular
A superb portrait of a revolutionary figure. 20 x 16.
Alberto Beltrán García (born March 22, 1923, Mexico City, d. April 19, 2002, Mexico City) was a Mexican graphic artist and painter known principally for his work with publications such as illustrations and political cartoons but he created a number of murals as well. He was born in the rough neighborhood of Tepito and began drawing for local publishers when he was a teenager. He attended the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas where one of his teachers introduced him to the Taller de Gráfica Popular where he began his career in earnest. From the late 1940s until his death, he work with various publications, mostly newspapers, but he also did book illustrations as well. In his later career, he worked on a number of murals, especially in the state of Veracruz, which he had an affinity for. Despite winning a number of important awards for his work, he is relatively unknown even in Mexico, with collections of his work scattered among a number of institutions.
He was a noted painter, engraver and political cartoonist, with most of his notable work in the graphic arts. He is considered to be the successor of José Guadalupe Posada and Leopoldo Méndez.
Most of his work was designed for publications. He was a political cartoonist, with emphasis on pointing out the excesses of those in power and the vices of society. He was also a journalist, with his reporting mostly done with his graphic work, depicting what he saw without romanticizing. He's considered to be part of the Escuela Mexicana de Pintura, with his work featuring realistic and detailed facial expressions, which often told much of the story. For book illustration, he principally used three techniques, woodcut, metal engraving and lithography. His accurate portrayals of indigenous life came from his frequent travels to rural areas in various parts of Mexico. These were used to illustrate publications such as literature published by the Instituto Nacional Indigenista and a book called Relatos, mitos y leyendas de la Chinantla by Roberto Weitlaner. The book Los mexicanos se pintan solos by Ricardo Cortés Tamayo features images by him illustrating various scenes featuring the common people of the country in the 1950s and 1960s.
His work with the Taller de Gráfica Popular focused on anti-US imperialism, Nazism, fascism and Francoist Spain. It supported various social and civic movements in Mexico, especially those related to the ideals of the Mexican Revolution and those related to workers. He often drew depictions of common men such as street vendors, cooks, bakers, police and many others along with symbols such as the nopal cactus, maguey, huaraches, machetes, sombreros and sarapes. From his time at the Taller, he believed that art was for the masses and not his personal enrichment or fame. He signed his work “beltran” without a capital letter or accent mark.