Cuban and Mexican Film Posters from the Efraín Barradas Collection
In the Fall of 2008, Ramón Figueroa, Associate Professor of Spanish at Millsaps College in Mississippi, donated his personal collection of Mexican and Cuban film posters to the University of Florida Smathers Libraries Popular Culture Collection, in honor of Efraín Barradas (LAS/Spanish and Portuguese Studies), his former professor and friend. Due to Figueroa’s gift, UF now holds the largest public collection of Mexican movie posters in the United States.
In February 2009, a $4500 mini-grant was received for conservation, digitization and metadata creation for the collection.
When asked about his collection (on the Millsaps College webpage), Figueroa had this to say:
"I suppose it all starts with my growing up in the Caribbean, where Mexico is one of the great cultural centers even today, and even more so in the 1970’s. I grew up with Mexican soap operas, comics, music and films, but they were so naturalized that I was never curious about their country of origin because they seem such a normal part of my world. When I finally made it to Mexico in 1989 I, like so many other people before, fell in love with the culture.
I acquired mostly Mexican masks and pottery until 1994, when I moved to posters. I must add that this collection would not exist without Ebay. I made almost all of my purchases through this service, and I got to know collectors from the United States, Mexico, Spain and France. The posters are a great expression of a time when Mexico made an investment in popular culture as a way to promote the values and virtues that would unify society and consolidate the power of the system. I think it is very interesting that some of the poster artists (such as Josep Renau or Ernesto García Cabral) were also muralists. There is research to be done on the Mexican poster as an example of the aesthetic cohesiveness of government sponsored art in Mexico before the sixties.
The Cuban posters are a secondary area of interest but as I collected them, I was responding to the same influences I experienced growing up. After the revolution, Cuba became a social model for the people of my generation, and Cuban culture, which has always been a great force in my country, grew even more dominant. As it was the case in Mexico before 1960, the Cuban revolutionary government became a great sponsor of popular culture for propagandistic reasons. The power of the cultural products of the Cuban revolution in Latin America is undeniable. It is very interesting that as different as the Mexican and Cuban posters are visually, their images are indicative of similar socio-political forces."