The Illustrative Work of Ernesto Garcia Cabral
Ernesto Garcia Cabral, know as El Chango, was the most prolific illustrator, caricaturist, and cartoonist in the history of Mexican journalism. Despite a successful sixty-year career and the production of over twenty-five thousand illustrations, he was never widely known outside of Mexico, with the exception of France, where his work appeared in several publications.
Ernesto Cabral was born in Huatusco, Veracruz, Mexico in December of 1890 to Vincent and Aurelia Garcia Cabral. As a boy, he displayed artistic ability with drawings of his classmates and landscapes; his first known illustrative work appeared in a Veracruz newspaper in 1900. Cabral received a scholarship in 1907 to study at the San Carlos Art Academy in Mexico City, where he studied under painter Germán Gedovius, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Munich and a master of the chiaroscuro technique.
Cabral’s professional career, as an illustrator and caricaturist, began in 1909 with his employment at “The Tarantula,” a weekly paper of humor and politics published in Mexico City. While at the paper, he illustrated political activist Aquiles Serdán’s telegraphed eyewitness reports of the Mexican Revolution; these ten illustrations by Cabral are the first known images of the Revolution. In 1911, Cabral was invited by editor Mario Vitoria to co-found “Multicolor”, one of Mexico’s first political satire magazines which took an anti-revolutionary stance and was fueled by criticism of President Francisco Madero”s administration.
With somewhat suspicious timing, Ernesto Cabral was offered a government-sponsored scholarship to leave Mexico and study art in Paris in February of 1912, just when “Multicolor” fell into trouble with President Madero and the Mexican government’s administration. While studying there, Cafral worked as an illustrator for the several French publications: the humor magazines “Le Rire” and “La Baïonnette”, and the mildly risqué erotic magazine “La Vie Parisienne”. He also became associated with important artists such as Diego Rivera, sculptor and painter Fidas Flizondo, and painter Angel Zarraga.
At the beginning of World War I, Cabral was given another government stipend which took him to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he remained until 1917 or 1918. While living there, he illustrated for Argentina’s newspapers “La Nación” and “Caras y Caretas”, among others, and for the Chilean publications “Revista Popular” and “Los Diez de Chile”.
On his return to Mexico in 1918, Cabral began to illustrate primarily in color and produced many illustrations, including art deco images, and caricatures for publications, such as “Revista de Revistas”, “El Semanario Nacional” and “Compañia Editorial Excélsior”. Established as a prominent caricaturist, Ernesto Cabral produced a prolific amount of editorial work throughout the 1920s and 1930s, during which time he also served as president of the National Union of Cartoonists.
Ernesto Cabral is mostly remembered today for the posters and lobby cards he executed during The Mexican Golden Age of Cinema, which roughly spanned the years from 1936 to 1956. His style was solidified in the mid-1950s, beginning with his design for the 1956 Mexican comedy film “El Rey de Mexico”. Cabral’s specialty was illustrations for comedy films. Although he did advertising work for several different studios, his most frequent assignments were for films produced by Mier y Brooks, a prominent studio during Mexico’s Golden Age. Cabral’s dynamic compositions, with their bold colors and cartoonish caricatures, were innovative in the field of film advertising and helped establish the careers of Mexican actors and comedians like Germán Valdés, aka Tin Tan, and Mario Moreno, also known as Cantiflas.
Cabral continued, during the 1960s, producing work for publications like “Hoy”, “Jueves de Excélsior:, and the newspaper “Novedades”, in which he provided illustrations on the Cold War, the Vietnam conflict, and social upheaval in the world. The winner of the 1961 Mergenthaler Prize by the Inter-American Press Association, Ernesto Garcia Cabral passed away on August 8, 1968 in Mexico City at the age of seventy-seven.
A collection of Ernesto Cabral’s movie posters with descriptions can be located at: http://www.santostreet.com/subpages/ArtistCabral.htm