The "Caudillo" as a "Painter"
Regarding Francisco Franco,
his works of art,
and Spanish culture itself
his works of art,
and Spanish culture itself
At first, this writeup deals about Spanish culture and the arts during the regime known for its militant conservatism in the early and middle 20th century.
As according to history books, Francisco Franco, the Caudillo of Spain had governed his country for decades with his anti-leftism and hardline conservatism being emphasised. Critics had looked much about the atrocities laid by his regime against his opponents, ranging from Communists to separatists especially those from Basque Country and Catalonia. All described as making malice that brought Spain into a series of conflict during the 1930s.
However, in this writeup speaks about how Spain dealt with its culture during Franco's regime. It also tackles about the Caudillo's interest in painting as well as its polices that somehow brought abit semblance of "tolerance" during those times. Of course, despite all these there were those who took culture as its weapon against the regime itself, an object of resistance hidden beneath the canvas, words, and gestures trying to evade the censors looking for subversion if not immorality.
|Self portrait, by the Caudillo|
(Scene from Franco: the man)
The Caudillo as a painter
(and how Spanish art tries to thrive)
In fact, it is quite rare to know how Francisco Franco does Painting for a hobby. That, as people used to looked at him as an iron-fisted dictator knowing all about military strength and honor and a personality full of machismo, Franco somewhat has enough "soft spot" as to recreate himself such as painting if not sailing.
That, as according to an article on the Telegraph, Franco had been encouraged by his friend, Dr. Vicente Gil to paint as means of relaxation from the stressful hours of governing. "He would regularly lock himself in his study after dinner to spend time painting," reveals his eldest grandson who is also called Francisco Franco in an interview with the Telegraph. "He was a great draughtsman. His paintings were not great works of art but showed a quality and realism that is unattainable for most amateurs."
|an example of Paintings made by Franco as his recreation.|
Well, like these pictures, most of his paintings also reflected his well-loved preferences such as hunting featuring dogs surrounding a bear and an eagle with its prey. Quite strange at first as this writer, in looking at his artworks would say that he still tends to convey his machismo factor even through the canvas if not for the sailing boat. And since he's a conservative like any other Spaniards of his time, he prefers a neoclassical one as it reflects what for he as "Purely Spanish."
However, some artists, as trying to present Spanish culture, also tries to invoke according to their own perspective. In a way Franco himself emphasise his interests and by using romanticism, others had been using Neo-Baroque for José María Sert, Salvador Dalí and Juan Miró with their surrealism, and others whom trying to replicate those of Goya or engaging in the avant garde.
But despite acknowledging schools that adopted "modern" art like those of Dali and Miró, Franco's preference for a "neoclassical" sort of kitsch meant this:
This artwork, for instance, was created by an anonymous painter reflecting the events surrounding the Spanish Civil War in a Falangist perspective. Obviously, this work somehow a basic example what was adopted during the Franco regime as well as to immortalize the ideals (in a Francoist perspective) what Falange speaks of such as a defender of Christian-Hispanic values rather than its supposed idea such as those of a modernist-leaning one "Old Shirts" (term for original Falangists) preferred of.
So was this in portraying the Caudillo Franco himself as a victorious personality alongside the flag-bearing Falangistas, Requetes, and other conservative-leaning elements fighting "for the sake of restoring order" in Spain. Again, classicism had been encouraged as to idealise the triumphalist aspect of the dictator and his movement as evidenced by the painting itself.
This artwork, made by Carlos Saenz de Tejada tends to romanticize, idealise the death of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera in its allegory. Like any other artwork "encouraged much" by the regime, it utilizes Falangist symbolism and religious iconography, not quite heavily as contrary to those of other artists "also encouraged" such as Dali.
To a conservative, of course may had preferred Saenz de Tejada than Dali for it reflects the past they've enjoyed for as compared to the abstract-minded Dali, or even the radical-leaning Picasso of the Republican exiles whose artworks tend to show the "truth" behind the regime itself.
As according to Ernesto Giménez Caballero, Falangist and one of known art theorists, Spanish art had ought to serve the system, preferably a folkish, triumphalist one similar to those of Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany. He even identified the Monastery of El Escorial as "the epitome of all the virtues of Spanish art and a "symbol of what art should be fascist". Caballero's statement may sound those of a conservative, rather than fascistic as to identify Escorial, Alcazar or any edifices made by the Habsburg era as compared to Fascists, such as those imitating the Italian model whose leaning speaks about Rationalism and even Futurism.
However, on the other hand, Eugenio d'Ors, well known writer and art critic, strove to create an artistic environment related to the regime but open and assimilative (Salón de los Once, Academia Breve de Crítica de Arte, 1941-1954)), including those of the avant garde, which increased over time to even be a hallmark of the regime, increasingly interested in showing, both internally and externally, a contemporary image; on the other hand, d'Ors, like Caballero, had also been advocating traditionalist idea especially during his term as "Chief Director for Fine Arts" from 1938 to 1939. And despite acknowledging the avant garde, of modernity in general, he was deeply attuned to the aesthetic of classical art of Greece and Rome, that somehow breaking him away with Modernism through its rejection of individualism and naturalism of modernist aesthetics and favoring sentimentality and spontaneity in artistic creation as well as sterility of traditionalism like as those rooted in rural Catalonia and its folklore.
However, outside Francoist Spain, Spanish art forms had also developed further, given the extraordinary cultural power of the Spanish Republican exiles, to which belonged figures of the stature of Juan Ramón Jiménez, Pablo Picasso, Julio González, Pablo Casals, Luis Buñuel, the architects of GATEPAC, José Ferrater Mora, Zambrano, Américo Castro, Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz, Juan Negrin Blas Cabrera, and many others.
|"Guernica" by Cde. Pablo Picasso|
Picasso, a rabid Anti-fascist and member of the Communist Party, is known for his "Guernica" (made in response to the bombing of Guernica by the German and Italian air forces, at the behest of the Spanish Nationalist forces, on 26 April 1937, during the Spanish Civil War.) and "Massacre in Korea" (that was made in opposition to the Korean war); and like any other Spanish Republican Exiles, had also expressed opposition to Franco's rule with the use of art contrary to those of Salvador Dali, whom once proclaimed as an "Anarchist", end supporting Franco's leadership. Also according to PBS, the Caudillo himself, despite being Fascist, had also expressed interest in having the left-oriented Guernica return to Spain as early as 1968.
However, Picasso remained true to his Republican principles as he refused to allow returning his artwork, reflecting his angst over the Fascist through its leader, until the Spanish people again enjoyed a republic. He even later added other conditions, such as the restoration of "public liberties and democratic institutions" that somehow realized as a "constitutional monarchy" under Juan Carlos I.
(representing the tree of knolwedge)
In regards to his policy involving art and culture, Franco had stressed both religion and nationalism with the latter whose artists even trying to emulate those from Germany and Italy. He also stress the value of national unity with Castile and Leon as its focal point whilst persecuting other minorities like those from Euskalherria (Basque Country) and Catalonia.
In this statement below, Franco showed guidelines in accordance to his conservative-leaning perspective:
"Must be imposed, in addition, the order of culture, the essential ideas that have inspired our Glorious Movement, which combine the purest lessons of universal and Catholic tradition with the demands of modernity (Law of 24 November 1939 foundation of the CSIC).
1. The National Research Council, as the supreme organ of Spanish high culture, which represent the elements of the most prestigious university academics and technicians enjoying the highest rank in the country's cultural life. This reaches to the pre-eminent position in the social and public manifestations of the national culture and relations with the outside scientific world.
2. The Supreme Council has as its spiritual patron all the glorious company of San Isidro, Archbishop of Seville, which represents the first time our history imperial Spanish culture.
3. The emblem shall, following and adapting the tradition luliana, an arbor scientiae, which represents a pomegranate, whose various branches in Latin, alludes to the scientific events that the Council grows. This emblem will appear on the medals and insignia of the Directors, the "ex libris" (frontispiece) of their magazines and publications and on the seal used in the official sanction of social relations.
—Order of March 8, 1940,
José Ibáñez Martín
Minister of National Education"
In this statement, it stresses tradition while at the same time trying to present something that is modern for most Spaniards during those times. As evidenced by having St. Isidore (San Isidro) as its patron, it reflects union of church and state and Iuliana as its emblem, reflecting the use of symbols used during the middle ages for scholars and artists of the period.
|San Isidro of Seville|
Patron of Students, intellectuals
The disciplines or names that should appear in the branches of the tree are also considered controversial, because the tree itself (Iuliana) was already used as an emblem of the Board for Advanced Studies since 1907. But in the Francoist version, Franco simply took prominence over theology, from which other sciences are "slaves" according to the scholastic aphorism "philosophia ancilla theologiæ."
The Caudillo, being a conservative somehow regarded religion and state united with the former being a indisputable part of Spanish culture itself. As history showed how Friars had served Spanish royalty in keeping the country "abide by Christian morals" for decades, even condemning scientific thought as heretical and contrary to Christian teaching. And with the aphorism "Philosophia ancilla Theologiæ", this may also means persecuting those contrary to conservative, if not Christian, hence un-Hispanic morals, especially those who had been serving in the Republican period that espouses secular thought and reason (even equating them with disorder) while at the same time trying to replicate the glory that was in the past such as those of the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, this time given modern trappings "with the demands of modernity."
And speaking of the Church and Christian teaching and its prominence over scientific thought, lies the clergy that was actively involved in the "National-Catholic" framework that includes the Education sector.
Significant was the elevation to positions of high influence in the ideological and cultural fields of clerical personalities like Justo Perez de Urbel, Ángel Herrera Oria, leader of the National Catholic Association of Propagandists (was ordained at age 53 and became bishop), José María Albareda (of Opus Dei since 1937) as director of the CSIC, leading philosopher Manuel García Morente; as well as the encouragement of Christian-based philosophies such as Thomist, scholastic, neo-Thomist and neo-scholastic, based on the position before the Vatican Council.
|Ejercito del Aire building by Luis Gutiérrez Soto|
According to Wikipedia, Spain found herself both politically and economically isolated as a consequence of the Civil war. Other than supporting Fascist regimes in Italy and Germany, the consequent effect of which, in tandem with Franco's preference for "a deadening, nationalistic sort of classical kitsch", was to largely suppress progressive modern architecture which was developing during the second republic.
Made during the regime of Philip II and identified by Ernesto Giménez Caballero
as the symbol of Spanish Fascist Art
As evidenced by Caballero identifying Spanish art with those of El Escorial, Spanish architecture during the early days of the regime, just like painting, had emphasised those of the Baroque period: hence, reproduced Herrian forms and has been called Neo-Herrerianism by some architects as evidenced by Luis Gutiérrez Soto's Air Ministry and University of Gijon by Luis Moya Blanco, oftentimes equating Neo-Herran with conservatism rather than Fascism due to its features emphasising those of the Past than of the coming future.
|Victory arch by Modesto Lopez Otero, Pascual Bravo Sanfeliú,|
and sculptors Moses Huerta, Ramon Arregui and Jose Ortells
|Casa Sindical (model) by Cabrero Francisco Torres-Quevedo|
in collaboration with Rafael de Aburto
Aside from emphasising the Escorial and other Neo-Herrenian features, some buildings also resembled Fascist, or Nazi models such as the "Casa Sindical" Union House, home of the "Sindicato Vertical" by Francisco Cabrero; Victory Arch by architects Modesto Lopez Otero, Pascual Bravo Sanfeliú, and sculptors Moses Huerta, Ramon Arregui and Jose Ortells.
|front side of "Valle de los Caidos" by architects Pedro Muguruza and Diego Mendez|
and sculptor Juan de Avalos
However, the most ambitious work being done was the "Valle de los Caidos", Valley of the Fallen by architects Pedro Muguruza and Diego Mendez and sculptor Juan de Avalos, in which interred the remains of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera and later Caudillo Franco himself.
But despite Franco's preference for a neoclassicism of the Habsburg kind, Spanish architecture during the Franco period tends to recognize the "Avant Garde" just like Dali and Miro in terms of painting.
|Perdido bridge by engineer Eduardo Torroja Miret and Cesar Villalba Granda|
The Perdido bridge for instance, was made in 1939 to 1942 by engineer Eduardo Torroja Miret and Cesar Villalba Granda. Contrary to the neoclassical style had the Caudillo encouraged, used then-modern designs and was built mainly consist of concrete.
|Torre de Madrid|
So was the Torre de Madrid by Julio Otamendi that was made in 1954 to 1957. The developer, Compañía Inmobiliaria Metropolitana, also created the earlier Edificio España which was made in 1920 (During the regime of King Alfonso).
Spain, like other European countries, had also experienced creating high-rise buildings, skyscrapers as part of "National development" both during Primo de Rivera and Franco periods with the latter somehow wanted to develop Spain further as it tries to open itself to the west by means of modernizing existing complexes and institutions; somewhat breaking with the idea of neoclassicism in Art and Architecture.
|Angels of Peace , of Jose Espinós Alonso , Madrid, 1964.|
Like Painting, Spanish sculpture during the regime had been much appropriated to the ideology no matter how "modern" it was depicted. Again, it espouses a triumphalist, if not regalistic appearance such as the equestrian statue of Franco below:
|Equestrian statue of Franco by Jose Capuz|
|monument of Jose Calvo Sotelo|
|monument to Admiral Carrero Blanco|
These edifices, both made in memoriam of Calvo Sotelo and Blanco, were made years after the war (1960s to mid-1970s) and invokes continuity of the classical forms or academicians, appropriate to the official ideology especially those of conservatism. Alonzo's Angeles de la Paz was made in commemoration of Franco's leadership as "peaceful within 20 years" after the war.
However, there were artists that had conveyed works contrary to the triumphalist nature of the regime. As according to La escultura contemporánea by Valdearcos, the next generation of sculptures had engaged in abstract sculpture such as Pablo Serrano, Eusebio Sempere, Palazuelo, Martín Chirino, Andreu Alfaro. As well as the creation of the Museum of Outdoor Sculpture of Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid, wherein it featured "La Sirena Virada" by Eduardo Chilida.
|"La Sirena Virada" by Eduardo Chilida|
|Monument to Jose Maria Peman, Cadiz|
Keeping the folkish spirit through music and literature
As the world had been starting to content in foreign imports such as Jazz from the United States, Spain tends to revisit ages-old spirit, especially those from music and literature after the civil war despite having the bulk of intellectuals been driven into exile made by the conflict with some international celebrities of great weight returned to Spain such as Arturo Duperier, José Ortega y Gasset, and even Salvador Dali who was even criticized for being an "Anarchist" and at the same time supporting Franco himself.
Just like in Education whose emphasis was based on faith as the foundation of all sciences, minimal scientific activity was maintained through the creation of the Institute of Political Studies (1939), CSIC (1939), and the Institute of Hispanic Culture (1946); as well as some areas of relations through social gatherings such at the Café Gijón, and even magazines such as Vértice (1937 to 1946), Escorial (1940 to 1950), Garcilaso-Juventud creadora (1943 to 1946), Espadaña (1944 to 1951), Ínsula (launched 1946), and Cántico (1947 to 1949).
The long, yet slow Spanish postwar recovery during the 1940s and 1950s had created a cultural wasteland within the destroyed, hungry and isolated Spain, exacerbated by repression, passing through the 'purification' of the educational system and cultural institutions, the purges of books, and widespread censorship. Franco's leadership was all meant "putting things into order" that involves strong interference by the religious sector in terms of marriage and education, as well as purging possible subversion that includes culture and the arts.
So much as had been written and is to be found among some novelists, poets and playwrights with their titles: Carmen Laforet with Nada (1945), Dámaso Alonso with Hijos de la ira (Sons of Wrath) (1946); Alfonso Sastre with La mordaza (The Bite) (1954); Luis Martín Santos with Tiempo de silencio (Time of Silence) (1962); and Carlos Barral with Años de penitencia (Years of Penance) (1975).
There were also writers that were closely aligned with the Franco regime such as Antonio Machado, a living symbol of the fratricidal division; Eduardo Marquina, Vicente Risco, Lorenzo Villalonga, Julio Camba, Wenceslao Fernandez Florez, Manuel García Morente, Tomás Borrás, Jacinto Miquelarena, José María de Cossío, the Marqués de Lozoya, Rafael Sánchez Mazas, Víctor de la Serna, José María Pemán (the 'minstrel of the Crusade'), Ernesto Giménez Caballero, Manuel Halcón, Juan Antonio Zunzunegui, Ángel Valbuena Prat, Eugenio Montes, Samuel Ros, Agustín de Foxá, Luis Rosales, José María Gironella, José Luis Castillo-Puche, Emilio Romero) or those who for one reason or another tried a compromise approach, with different reception from the regime (José Martínez Ruiz ('Azorin'), Jacinto Benavente, Ramon Perez de Ayala, Carlos Arniches, bilingual Catalan language-writer Josep Pla, and have been mostly a common destiny in their assessment by subsequent literary criticism; relatively speaking, somewhat similar to the relegation and contempt suffered by intellectuals who supported the European Fascist regimes after their defeat like Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Martin Heidegger, and Ezra Pound.
|José María Pemán|
José María Pemán, known for its rabid loyalty to the Caudillo, had ensured his professional success during and after the Civil War, yet on the other hand, damaged his international reputation as compared to other writers like José Ortega y Gasset. He even penned lyrics for the Marcha Real, the Spanish National Anthem, that was used from 1939 to 1978.
(Francoist version by José María Pemán)
alzad los brazos,
hijos del pueblo español,
que vuelve a resurgir.
Gloria a la Patria que supo seguir,
sobre el azul del mar el caminar del sol.
Los yunques y las ruedas
cantan al compás
del himno de la fe.
Juntos con ellos cantemos de pie
la vida nueva y fuerte del trabajo y paz.
In regards to Spanish music such as during its earlier periods, regional folk music and lore were revitalized through extensive rescue work and collection of Songs and Dances made by the Women's Section of the Falange, as well as individual efforts like the dulzainero Segovia Marazuela Agapito.Utilizing Cinema as Propaganda (and counterpropaganda)
Guitar virtuosos like Andrés Segovia had even performed many concerts in South America and in Europe from 1930s up to post-war. Easy listening music, on the other hand, was even made more acceptable by the Caudillo, especially during Charity galas and receptions he and his wife being visited, one which examples was the international music sensation Julio Iglesias (who also sung songs in English other than his native tongue).
|A mi La Legion!|
(one of Spanish movies known as "Cine Cruzada" during the Franco period)
According to the writeup "Cine", Spanish cinema was of minor importance before the Civil war although the silent film "La aldea maldita" by Florián Rey reached international fame. However in the 1930s emerged an industry yet mostly dedicated to films "made for consumption" such as those made by Filmófono; but in 1931, with the introduction of sound film nearly crippled the industry to the point of having a single title being released. Both Republicans and "Nationalists" utilize Cinema as an instrument of information and propaganda during the Civil War such as "Subsecretaría de Propaganda del Gobierno de la República" with its "España 1936" or the "Departamento Nacional de Cinematografía" with its documentaries made by the Francoists. Many film-makers as well as artists were driven into exile due to the conflict that waged from 1936 to 1939, and most of them chose to live in exile during the dictatorship.
In Franco's time, Spanish cinema was simply utilised as a myth-making machine to spin stories about the past. In other words, it had became a propaganda tool with the government turned out "Cine Cruzada", or civil-war films, which venerated the Church, the family and the fascist state. It even had to impose obligatory dubbing to highlight directors such as Ignacio F. Iquino, Rafael Gil (Huella de luz (1941)), Juan de Orduña (Locura de amor (1948)), Antonio Román (Los últimos de Filipinas), and José Luis Sáenz de Heredia (Raza)(1942). "Raza" was even made by Franco himself, as Jaime de Andrade.
|poster of the movie "Raza" (1941 version)|
In the movie "Raza", it tackles about a family whose siblings had different political views prevailing prior to the civil war with Jose, like Franco, had entered the Army while his brother, Pedro, had supported the Republicans as its deputy. Like any other sympathizer to the Francoist cause, Jose chose to join the rebels as he escaped into the Nationalist border where he met his brother-in-law, Captain Echevarria, who feels tempted to desert the Nationalists and cross the lines to meet his wife, Isabel Churruca and his two sons, who are trapped in Republican Bilbao. Prior to his escape, Jose was captured as a result of his activities as a fifth columnist and was sentenced to death, only to survive "by some sort of miracle" and with the help of his loved one, his wounds tended by a doctor that happened to be sympathizing with Franco's cause.
The original film was released in 1941, as Spain, although neutral, had discreetly supported Germany during the second world war. However, in 1950, it was decided to amend the film to make it more presentable "to a different world climate" whilst keeping the Anti-Left message. There script lines were changed and even removed some sequences.
Meanwhile, the edited version, contrary to the original one had to temper Anti-US Criticism, removed references about the Falange, and even changed the title itself as "Espíritu de una Raza" as to prevent equating Francoist Spain with Hitler's Germany. The authorities even tried to destroy all copies of the first version, which ran it being lost. Moreover, they believed in good faith that the movie "Espíritu de una Raza" was "Raza" itself with a different sound.
It would say that Spanish Cinema during Franco had been emphasising trumphalism. Like the move "Raza" and "Los últimos de Filipinas", it stresses the role of the Armed forces, glorifying wars, and revisiting the past that, according to Franco and his retinue "lies Spain's prestige as a global power". After all, the regime itself, claims to be victorious, had to invoke something, a legacy to leave on: "they had won the war, now they needed to win the history."
However, not all directors follow closely to the policies given by the regime. In fact, some Foreign filmakers, using Spain as its subject, rather made films that were favourable to the Republican viewpoint, such as the 1943 version of Ernest Hemingway's novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls," that had been end refused distribution by the authorities. Yet despite facing the sharp scissors of the censors and perhaps warrantless arrests, oppositional film-makers who remained in the country rather used allusion, metaphor and symbolism in an attempt to raise alternative historical accounts of the past.
It's all but strange at first especially how Franco tries to convey Spanish culture and the arts as "Uniquely Spanish".
Ranging from having a Folksy appearance to engaging with the avant-garde, Spanish art tends to thrive as possible the way Franco's regime tries to ensure the survival of his regime. As evidenced by the works of Carlos Saenz de Tejada, it conveys triumphalism yet the world had rather preferred looking over Dali's surreal artworks if not for the exiles whose Picasso's Guernica speaks the truth reflecting the deaths of many due to bombings in a once, quiet Basque town.
However, on the other side, Spain, despite having a degree of modern appearance during those times, tries to stand firm in its traditions as reflected by its own culture. From preferring a neoclassical kitsch to the use of military power and tradition especially in movies, the country, or perhaps its then Caudillo emphasises order as its topmost priority. At first, it may deemed strange or desperate in today's perspective to recreate a society full of conservative values instead of a revolutionary one in accordance to the ideas of Falange. To think that the radical-minded Hedilla, the supposed Jefe had disagreed most of Franco's views as anathema to the supposed ideas what Primo de Rivera or Ramiro Ledesma advocated.
Sadly for Hedilla and the radicals, that he had faced prison as he opposed the past-mided Caudillo. So were those who deemed as potential opposition that brought others into exile such as those who were loyal to the republic.
Sadly for Hedilla and the radicals, that he had faced prison as he opposed the past-mided Caudillo. So were those who deemed as potential opposition that brought others into exile such as those who were loyal to the republic.
In fact, this writer disagrees with Franco's views especially that he himself had disregarded some of the original goals of the communion he supported like the Falange. His conservatism had turned down land reform, imprisoned the radical Hedilla and others whose ideas as inimical to "Spanish Catholic authoritarianism". Some of the original intentions of Falange had been done such as carrying out National-Syndicalist measures, yet these had given little effect compared to the attempts made in Italy or even Germany those times, primarily just to counter the Soviet Union.
In other words, he had led the war in 1936 primarily to restore order what he used to than to foster change as his ideologues ought for. Franco himself ain't no Falangist in the manner of Hedilla nor Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, but a conservative in the manner of Miguel Primo de Rivera, a maintainer of the status quo and the keeper of the crown.
Thanks Miah Llanes for inspiring this writer to make this.