Born in Mexico City, the youngest of eight children, he was the youngest student to attend the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts. Mendez joined the Stridentist movement in the early 1920s, soon after which he designed his first woodcut. He designed book jackets and posters commenting on social problems, and was a member of the Communist Party of Mexico. In the interwar years Mendez received a Professorship and visited the United States. He worked on cultural and proletarian projects, including printmaking workshops, and contributed images for radical newspapers and books. From the time of the Spanish Civil War and during the Second World War, Mendez contributed anti-Franco and anti-Fascist works to various media, including posters. He won a Guggenheim Fellowship to the USA in 1939. Before the war he was falsely imprisoned as the result of a failed assassination. Post-war he designed murals and travelled several times to the Soviet Union, winning awards and hosting a retrospective exhibition on his 60th birthday. Mendez was associated with Taller de Gráfica Popular (TGP), a social commentary art movement. His paintings are held in several galleries, and there are online exhibitions of his work. Whenever Mendez produced a limited edition portfolio of his work, he insisted ‘that there be a mass-produced version of the same work at a price within the reach of the average citizen’. Alternatively, he ensured that the print was visible to the masses possibly as a poster pasted on fences, or handed out to citizens in Mexico City.
Information collated from: Heller, J., ‘A Virtual Portfolio of Works in Homage to Leopoldo Mendez’, http://herbergercollege.asu.edu/museum/mendez/chronology.htm, accessed October 3 2003; Graphic Witness, ‘Graphic Witness: visual art and social commentary’, http://www.graphicwitness.org/group/mendez.htm, accessed October 3 2003; Artcyclopedia, ‘Leopoldo Mendez Online’, http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/mendez_leopoldo.html, accessed October 3 2003; Keith Sheridan Fine Prints, ‘Keith Sheridan Fine Prints – Leopoldo Mendez’, http://www.keithsheridan.com/mendez.html, accessed October 3 2003