José Luis Cuevas is considered among the most important figures within Mexico’s "Ruptura" generation, formed by a group of artists who distanced themselves from the social realism established by the Muralists in the 1920s and 1930s. Beyond his prolific career as a painter and illustrator, Cuevas was also known for his metal and stone engravings. This work dates to 1947, when he created his first engravings under the guidance of Lola Cueto, a Mexican printmaker who taught at Mexico City College. Towards the end of 1980s, Cuevas produced a series of etchings at the printmaking workshop of Monir, a Hindu artist who established himself in Spain during the 1960s. He developed a system there that allowed him to create a mixed-technique print of large dimensions by putting together two metal sheets. The large size of this untitled etching and the variations in texture and color attest to Cuevas’s mastery of the printmaking process. The central figure appears to hold an open book; his rendering is reminiscent of the artist’s earlier, imaginary portraits of the Baroque poet Francisco de Quevedo and the German writer Franz Kafka.
This text was created in collaboration with the University of Maryland Department of Art History & Archaeology and written by Patricia Ortega-Miranda.