Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Francisco Rivero Gil: A Tale of Graphic Othering

  • Author(s): Southard, Donna Ann
  • Advisor(s): Dougherty, Dru
  • et al.

This study deploys the Spanish illustrator Francisco Rivero Gil (1899-1972) as a paradigmatic figure of the graphic arts in order to explore the relationships between image and text being played out in representation as expressions of Spain's unique process of modernization. The meanings of these graphico-lexical relationships reveal themselves through Rivero's work, as well as through his praxis, over time, through geographical displacement and changing historical contexts. As a result, the study interweaves biography, history and graphico-lexical textual analysis in a combined diachronic and synchronic approach. Its first chapter, meant to bridge the gap between the graphic arts and Hispanic literary studies, provides an introduction to the graphic arts in the context of Spain's modernization, as well as a review of recent research pertaining to the nexus of these two fields. The main chapters are divided into three time-spaces, which cover Rivero's beginnings in Santander from 1914 to 1923, including a tour of duty in Morocco as a rank-and-file soldier after the Annual Disaster; the mid `20s to the mid `30s in Madrid; and the late `30s during the Spanish Civil War in Valencia and Barcelona.

The analysis of the various editorial projects included in these chapters shows how a different project of modernity was gestating in the field of the graphic arts, where interactions between image and text enacted a peculiarly Spanish conceptualization of the Other, based on cordiality, that contained radical implications for social change and laid the conceptual groundwork for a non-violent social revolution. This version of modernity, contrary to others advocating a rupture with the past, easily integrated traditional forms by modifying them to suit modern needs. The study shows how the graphic arts may be understood as a site that facilitated a cordial engagement with the Other, containing and channeling the many tensions of Spain's modernization, as it contributed to the formation of new citizens and a vision of modernity firmly rooted in the past. This dissertation is the first part of a book length project covering Rivero's life and work in Spain. Future research will take on the transatlantic dimension of his life and the work he produced as an exile in France, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Mexico.

Main Content
Current View