Mexican Boy

This lithograph of a boy at work was designed in the late 1930s by the Mexican American artist Ramón Contreras (1919-1940). Mexican-born, he grew up in San Bernardino, a major agricultural town east of Los Angeles. His career was tragically short. Before he died of cancer at the age of 21, Contreras became the youngest artist ever invited to the Golden Gate International Exposition, and traveled to Mexico to meet the famed muralist Diego Rivera. Contreras came of age during the Great Depression (1930s), a period of economic crisis for all Americans and for people around the globe. Much of the art produced during these difficult years reflects a political and aesthetic vision–to document and ennoble the lives of ordinary working people. Here, Contreras presents us with an idealized image of a confident young man in motion. Identifiably Mexican with his serape draped over one shoulder, the boy drawn by Contreras triumphantly at the center of the frame is perhaps a fruit vendor. He is probably not a fruit picker–note the non-Californian bananas arrayed with other warm-weather fruits in his basket. This lithograph was printed in about 1950 by Lynton Kistler–it is one of the 2,700 prints by this prominent Los Angeles printer that are housed in the Graphic Arts Collection of the National Museum of American History.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
ca 1950
graphic artist
Kistler, Lynton R.
original artist
Contreras, Ramon
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
overall: 40.8 cm x 29 cm; 16 1/16 in x 11 7/16 in
place made
United States: California, Los Angeles
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Cultures & Communities
Mexican America
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Graphic Arts
Mexican America
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Title (Spanish)
Niño Mexican
Credit Line
Kistler Collection

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