In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month: A spotlight on artist Raúl Anguiano

By Daniel Fulco, Ph.D., Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Curator

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we hope that you enjoy this print in our collection.

lime kills

Raúl Anguiano (Mexican, 1915–2006)
Lime Kilns, 1946
From the Mexican People portfolio (1946)
Lithograph on paper
13.75″h x 11.25″w
Collection of Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
Museum purchase, A0932,57.0306

Working in a social realist style, Raúl Anguiano was a prolific printmaker, painter, and sculptor who frequently employed bold forms to convey human expression and emotion. Over the course of his career, he became renowned for depicting the indigenous peoples of Mexico, an interest derived from his careful study of ethnology. In this print, he captures the arduous, dangerous activities of workers who are producing lime, a calcium-rich mineral that was traditionally produced by burning limestone or chalk in large kilns. Lime is a vital ingredient in cement and concrete. In Mexico, lime is also often used to whitewash adobe houses and prepare maize for cooking.

The Mexican People is a portfolio of twelve lithographs (by ten artists) representing laborers of various industries, including lime kiln workers, bricklayers, miners, fishermen, and loggers. Like his fellow printmakers who contributed to this series, Anguiano’s scene of everyday life concentrates on the plight of rural Mexican workers, with whom he empathized. In 1946, the Taller de Grafica Popular (People’s Graphic Workshop) in Mexico City published the Mexican People to help Americans better understand the peoples and cultures of Mexico as both nations sought to readjust to new global economic conditions after World War II.

Anguiano was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, first studied at the local Free School of Painting, and later attended the Art Students League, New York. A well-known muralist, he was a contemporary of a famed painters Diego Rivera (1886–1957), José Clemente Orozco (1883–1959), and David Siqueiros (1896–1974), and his work dealt with social and political issues related to the Mexican Revolution (1910–20). A member of the Communist-aligned Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (League of Revolutionary Writers and Artists) and following its dissolution, the Taller de Gráfica Popular, Anguiano remained committed to the tenets of the Mexican Revolution. He was particularly concerned by the hardships encountered by workers in the countryside. Anguiano held the position of General Secretary of the Art Teachers Union and Vice-President of the Mexican Association of Plastic Arts (both located in Mexico City). In addition, he was art supervisor of adult education at the Esmeralda Art School, Mexico City, from 1942 to 1964 and taught life drawing at the University of Mexico City at the same time.

This WeekendArt is sponsored by Dr. & Mrs. Hugh J. Talton

Anguiano focuses on the hot, back-breaking nature of lime production near the town of Tula de Allende in central Mexico. In the foreground, large funnels of dark smoke rise from burning pits in the ground that dominate the center of the composition. Between the two cyclone-shaped clouds, workers can be seen unloading a handcar of limestone or chalk. In the background, several large kilns also send plumes of smoke into the air, emphasizing the griminess and unhealthy qualities of this trade.

The Mexican People is a portfolio of twelve lithographs (by ten artists) representing laborers of various industries, incl