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Salir de desierto : : Dissident Artistic Expression under Franco, 1936-1975

  • Author(s): Long, Robert Lincoln
  • et al.

From the beginning of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and through the years of the authoritarian Francoist regime (1936-1975), the survival of artistic expression in Spain of artists sympathetic to the ideals of the defeated Republic was constantly challenged. Whether threatened with execution if caught in Nationalist-held territory during the war or with harassment, and imprisonment after the war, these Spanish artists were simultaneously faced with choices of a profoundly personal and aesthetic nature. The Francoist regime's traditionalist cultural project, National Catholicism, through its control of the public sphere, especially through its censorship, threatened not only the rights of free expression, but, at times, the lives of artists themselves. In order to secure a means for their artistic expression, artists were forced into life-altering decisions. In this dissertation, I examine the biographies and art of three Spanish artists, composer Antonio José Martínez Palacios, poet and novelist Jesús López Pacheco, and abstract expressionist painter Antoní Tàpies, whose lives intersected the regime. I propose an underlying primary theses, which plays out on three levels : 1) Although obstructed at times by the Francoist regime, the voices of these artists would continue sounding; 2) although the regime attempted to manipulate their art for its purposes, in fact, that manipulation only made the artists' voices grow stronger, and finally; 3) although the regime attempted to block the presentation of their art, and in effect re-write history, the creative voices of these three artists have over time, if anything, become a stronger and more precise lens with which to historically analyze the Francoist repression. In that respect, I argue that the ultimate success lies with the narratives and the purposes of these artists. This work divides the stories of the three artists in a broad chronology starting with Antonio José and ending with Antoni Tàpies. Each artist is the focus of two chapters with the first of those being a more biographical analysis of the artist's life and work. The second chapter on each artist pertains more specifically to their work's intersection with the repression of the regime. This organization provides an opportunity for overlapping comparisons of their times, their disciplines over the entirety of the regime's existence, and an assessment of the regime's own cultural project

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