Mexican Pulp Art
Post-war America saw the rise of the erotic pulp paperback novel covers. At the time a similar type of book and marketing strategy was being developed in Mexico. This brand of novel included racy cover art designed to attract and entice consumers; yet the differences in the subject matter being peddled to consumers in America and Mexico was vast. While Mexican pulp art on these covers did celebrate sex as much as their American counterparts, they also threw in violence, sci-fi weirdness, psychedelia, murder, and crime, often opting for scenes that depicted the blatantly bizarre rather than just soft core smut.
An exhibition of Mexican Pulp Fiction covers called “Pulp Drunk: Mexican Pulp Art” recently opened at the Ricco Maresca Gallery in New York. The exhibition runs from January 23rd to March 7th, 2015
The exhibition reintroduces this art form to the public as a brilliant and often overlooked pop-culture revelation. It is a celebration of the art that graced the covers of the paperbacks released south of the US border and also serves as a visual observation of the fundamentals of Mexican attitudes towards art and consumerism.
These sensationalized images from the sixties and seventies often feature surreal and lurid images of extraterrestrials, robots, dinosaurs, killers, Zorro and many other icons involving suspense, mystery, romance, and the supernatural. Some of the highlights of the art include a gorilla breaking through a door to assault a man, small aliens attacking a woman as her maid watches in dismay, a robot war, invisible men, murder and lusty women.
The central characters in the narratives tend to be ordinary people facing the common challenges of day-to-day life. They are not gallant martyrs but commoners who have found themselves confronting outlandish and startling predicaments as a result of poor decisions or risky behavior. Through vivid colors, dramatic lighting and bold imagery, the cover art manages to leave the viewer with a sense of disillusionment and apprehension regarding the character’s fate without reading a word of the novel itself.