August 12, 2020

Pilgrim Spain returns from oblivion | Culture

In the first months of 1939 more than half a million Spaniards crossed the border with France. With that massive exodus, the last chapter of the Civil War was closing and the first stage of a long and uncertain exile began that would last for about four decades and expand throughout the American continent and the Caribbean, the USSR and Europe. Eighty years after that retreat, a monumental documentary and artistic exhibition and two photographic exhibitions, opened yesterday at the Archerías de Nuevos Ministerios in Madrid, rebuild and pay homage to the republican diaspora.

Portrait of Robert Capa of a musician from the Philharmonic of Barcelona Campo de Bram March 1939.

Portrait of Robert Capa of a musician from the Philharmonic of Barcelona Campo de Bram March 1939. International Center Of Photography Magnum Photos Contact

Curated by Juan Manuel Bonet, 1939: Spanish Republican Exile follow the trail of that pilgrim Spain from the French border to the landing of the Guernica from Picasso to Spain in 1981. "This is the largest exhibition that has been done on the subject and it shows a lot of material that had never been exposed," said the former director of the Reina Sofía Museum yesterday, who also participated in the first dedicated exhibition to the Exile presented in 2002 at the Palacio del Cristal del Retiro. The new exhibition traces an extensive historical tour with documents, photographs, objects – from ship models to the flag with crepe that was used at the burial of Azana – movies, radio material, recordings of readings, posters, books and more than half hundred pictures.

The vast panorama that the exhibition offers orders a long and complex history, silenced and persecuted during the Franco regime. From the resistance of the Government in exile and from the unions and parties, to the evocation of the publishing houses, bookstores, galleries and schools that the Republicans founded in their host countries, the route is rich and diverse.

To the photos of Robert Capa, David Seymour or Agustí Centelles who documented the withdrawal are added the 1940 edition of Silvia Mistral's book in Exodus. Diary of a Spanish refugee, or a 1937 issue of With blood and fire by Manuel Chaves Nogales. Maps of concentration camps in France; ship's model Sinaia -Which transferred more than 1500 Republicans to Mexico-, and documents such as the radiotelegrama of Manuel Azaña presenting his resignation, or the newspaper on board an expedition in July 1939, are presented next to the stories of the refugees who ended up in the Soviet Union, and those of the combatants who integrated the Leclerc Division and fought against fascism in the contest that ravaged the rest of Europe until 1945.

Poster by Pablo Picasso 'Hommage des artistes espagnols à Antonio Machado' (Paris Maison de la Pensée Française, 1955).

Poster by Pablo Picasso 'Hommage des artistes espagnols à Antonio Machado' (Paris Maison de la Pensée Française, 1955).

There is a chapter dedicated to the impact of the deaths of the poet Antonio Machado (Picasso's drawing is shown to illustrate a poster) and Manuel Azaña, and another that recalls the Nazi concentration camps where many Republicans ended up. A section is dedicated to the work in the performing arts that the exiles undertook. The headphones allow to listen to the radio programs that on the BBC, Radio Paris and La Pirenaica constituted a last redoubt where to listen to news that escaped Franco's ruling.

Ordered according to geographical criteria, the paintings and artistic works produced by the exiles occupy almost the entire lower floor. There you can see the work of artists such as Vela Zanetti, Mary Martín, Luis Seoane, Ramón Gaya, Óscar Domínguez, Rafael Alberti, Maruja Mallo or Amparo Segarra, among many others. The etchings of Pablo Picasso are also presented Franco's dream and lie and the portrait that the Malaga-born painter made of the daughter of architect Manuel Sánchez Arcas, Mercedes Sánchez Cruz-López, in 1948 in Warsaw, a city he attended on one of his few plane trips. Heirs and relatives of the artists have lent many materials, which have joined those of the collections of the Pablo Iglesias Foundation, and the Reina Sofía Museum, among other institutions.

The collection of one hundred unpublished photographs that the French photojournalist Philippe Gaussot took at the border in 1939 and in the fields, is presented separately in Las Arquerías in the exhibition entitled Paths of exile. His son Jean Philippe found a suitcase with the material that is now shown for the first time. Blood is not water Pierre Gonnord is the other photographic exhibition, which combines memories, past and present.

With these samples, open until January 31, a year of commemorations closes. Coordinated by an interministerial commission, the homage to exile project marked the restitution of its history, and the dissemination of the legacy of the exiles. In the presentation to the press, the Minister of Development, José Luis Ábalos, said he felt "deeply excited." The Minister of Justice, Dolores Delgado, spoke of the attempt "to remove those who marched into exile from the pit of disgrace." And the head of Culture, José Guirao stressed that this theme is infinite: “This exhibition is necessary. It has taken 80 years to treat exile with the importance it deserved, but this does not end. ”

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