The Virgin of Guadalupe Photo Essay: From Primitive to Painterly

The Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City is featuring a special exhibition about the Virgin of Guadalupe.  The images include primitive figures in carved wood, elaborate paintings and wood carvings from church altars, woven and embroidered textiles, and contemporary 2016 photographs by Federico Gama taken at the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City.

Why am I so taken with this exhibition? Certainly not from a religious point-of-view, but from one interested in the cultural expression of this great nation. The Virgin of Guadalupe is Mexico’s own, personal patron saint.

To me, she is a woman of strength and valor, able to transform and uplift a nation. She is Mother Earth, fertility and blessing. Her figure transcends and tricks the Spanish overlord. She is disguised as and more than the Virgin Mary. Her roots are indigenous. She belongs to the people.

I am also taken with the various artistic expressions of her figure, how she is depicted: from facial expressions, use of color and shadows on the folds of her gown, the portrayal of the angel at her feet, from simple to elaborate. It seems that everyone had their own version of the Virgin of Guadalupe vision.

As my friend, artist Lena Bartula says, In Guad We Trust. 

Virgin of Guadalupe Exvoto

I hope you enjoy this visual expression of Mexican life.

Stone church carving

Ceramic plate from Patzcuaro

A Federico Gama portrait

Even the Virgin wants us to drink Pepsi

Close up of the angel, 18th century

A book engraving

One artist’s version with apparitions and flowers

Another version with a different cloak and coloring

Note the more elaborate Mexican flag on the angel’s wings

A polychrome figure, perhaps from Oaxaca

A Federico Gama portrait at the Basilica de Guadalupe

Inlaid oyster shell portrait

Exvoto, giving thanks to the Virgin for a car purchase

Embroidered textile, huipil

Ceramic and alpaca metal from Guadalajara

A primitive painting, every bit as meaningful

Formalized altar construction



10 responses to “The Virgin of Guadalupe Photo Essay: From Primitive to Painterly

  1. Could you add me to your email list, and also let me know if you have any tours happening in February? I hope to be there in February 2019. Thanks so much!

  2. Gracias Norma. I am also taken by Guadalupe and I am working on an embroidery piece of her.

  3. I loved this, thank you, Norma. I have a lovely Guadalupe ceramic piece, and of course she appears in several of the milagros/votive paintings I have. I hope that the museum did a catalogue of the show, because the images are spectacular.

  4. love your essay, Norma. thanks for sharing my bumper sticker, but you have Guad misspelled. Can you correct it easily? I’m so excited about a show I’m doing at the gallery, opening Dec. 6. It’s called Guadalupe/Tonantzin, a collective exhibition with several artists making 12×12″ images (for her feast day, 12/12) in as out of the box way as they can conceive of. I’ll keep you posted as I get the jpgs. in!!

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