“Day of the Dead” (Eames Brothers, 1957)

Produced by the American designers Charles and Ray Eames, this short film offers insight into the Dia de Muertos festival through the medium of folk art. I’m fascinated by the animated diorama shown at 6.50 in the video, but unfortunately I’ve been unable to find any more information about this type of toy.

Notably, none of the calavera (skull) representations seen in this film feature the flower-crown motif, which – according to my own research – seems to have become part of the Dia de Muertos tradition via the art of the Self Help Graphic Studio in Los Angeles during the early 1970s. Self Help Graphics, in turn, may well have been inspired by the floral skull imagery of the Grateful Dead, which was itself an appropriation of illustrations by Edmund Sullivan during the very early 20th century.

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