Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail
  • ICAA Record ID
    Del códice al rotograbado : La ilustración de la noticia en la prensa de México III / Por Antonio Rodríguez
    Mañana : La revista de México (México, D. F., México). -- No. 203 (Jul. 19, 1947)
    p. 37-39 : ill.
    Journal article – Essays
    Rodríguez, Antonio. "Del códice al rotograbado: La ilustración de la noticia en la prensa de México III." Mañana: La revista de México (Mexico City), no.203 (July 1947): 37-39.
Editorial Categories [?]

This is the third and last article in the series by Antonio Rodríguez. In a quick history of illustrated news, he shows us how it developed from the pre-Hispanic period through the modern world of the twentieth century. In this article, Rodríguez tells how illustration changed over time, starting with codices as a kind of stand-alone graphic journalism in the pre-Hispanic period. Passing through woodcuts to engraving on metal, he moves to lithography as the preferred technology in the twentieth century. The writer concludes that photography had the merit of presenting the facts with a fidelity and speed that no other medium had been able to do before. This was why when it took firm roots, it created a revolution with major consequences not only for journalism in particular, but for life in general as well.

In order to do this [review], the article refers back to Luis García Pimentel—the son of Joaquín García Icazbalceta—as the person who introduced the system of photolithography and photogravure around 1877. This method enabled the press to reproduce images easily and quickly. Both the daily newspaper Universal and the Imparcial, published by Reyes Spíndola, used photolithography to reproduce images just before photography itself was available. The daily newspaper El Tiempo, which started publication in 1883, used this procedure for publishing images as well.
Armando Salcedo introduced halftone engraving in 1888 or 1889 and brought about a major shift in graphic reproduction in the press with halftone engraving. This represented the last span of the bridge to photography.

Rodríguez tells us that the first journalistic photographs appeared in the daily newspaper El Mundo Ilustrado on February 23, 1896. These static, immobile images were transformed as events unfolded. Such was the case with the assassination attempt against President Porfirio Díaz, because the publishers of El Mundo were pleased to be the first to publish a current news item documented at the very moment it took place.

This period of informative graphics started to change when daily newspapers such as Artes y Letras, La Ilustración, La Semana Ilustrada, El Tiempo Ilustrado—all modern newspapers— began to use the image as a source of information. What happened next was that gradually, the dissemination of the image grew more and more, and it came to assume great importance, paving the way for modern photojournalism. 

The essay by Rodríguez extends his analysis to the modern publications that inaugurated a new graphic era, such as Hoy, also known as the "supergraphic magazine." In 1937, all this gave way to a new type of photojournalism based on the image. The launch of other eminently graphic magazines such as Rotofoto, published by Pagés Llergo in 1938, opened the doors to a photography trend featuring images that were continually more incisive and caustic. Other magazines analyzed by Rodríguez such as Nosotros, Estampa, Más, and Mañana evoked the impact of the image, opening the way for new photography equipment and new sensibilities. Moreover, the works created have a visual and artistic intensity that justify their presentation in an art venue such as the Palacio de Bellas Artes. This was an assignment that Rodríguez decided to undertake in July 1947, in the framework of an exhibition that covered his historical review of news illustration in Mexico.


Starting in 1946, Antonio Rodríguez (1914–1993), the Portuguese art critic exiled in Mexico, began to assemble an exhibition of press photographs for which he performed a number of interviews. He set forth his review of illustration in the Mexican press in a three-article series. His intention is clear: to provide the context of the sustained effort and show the importance of presenting such images at one of the most important art venues in Mexico, such as the Palacio de Bellas Artes. In addition, Rodríguez intended to provide a summary review that emphasized the way the image kept being included in the news through the golden age of illustrated magazines, which extended from about 1930 through 1950. 

Rebeca Monroy : CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Courtesy of María Antonieta Fernández Moreno, Mexico City, México
Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Biblioteca Nacional/Hemeroteca Nacional