Imagining Latin American culture in the United States: Carlos Mérida’s illustrations | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2050-0726
  • E-ISSN: 2050-0734



Despite the many exhibitions and catalogues concerning Carlos Mérida’s artistic career, little attention has been focused on Mérida’s numerous book illustrations. During the late 1920s and 1930s, Mérida engaged in several illustration projects for travel guides written for a North American audience, which incorporated imagery from Mexico’s countryside, particularly featuring people wearing folk dress. The travel diary Banana Gold (1932) by Carleton Beals and travel guidebooks by Anita Brenner and Frances Toor were aimed at this burgeoning group of United States travellers. While Mérida utilized a fairly consistent, minimal style for these projects, distinctions in his subject matter concerning banana plantation workers, pre-Columbian imagery and more contemporary folk costumes belie distinctions in Mérida’s intent. In this capacity, Mérida helped to create a sense of Latin American folk culture to a United States public via his illustrations featuring dress.


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