Duncan Wheeler
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Culture as a democratic weapon
Pablo Picasso’s Guernica
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The political and cultural casualties of Francoism’s bellicose centralism are imprinted in Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, depicting the aerial bombing of the Basque town. By the time of Franco’s death, Picasso was widely considered the twentieth century’s greatest artist, and Federico García Lorca was the most translated Spanish playwright. Lorca was executed by Falangist thugs shortly after the illegal rebel uprising, and his death, alongside Guernica, was evidence of the regime’s violent philistinism, ensuring an indelible link in the international psyche between Franco’s victory and a defeat for culture. As numerous studies have shown, the afterlife of Guernica is a key barometer for Francoism’s socio-political evolution. This chapter draws upon this scholarship to examine how competing discourses were both constituted by and constitutive of a direct association between culture and democracy, which transformed the former into an increasingly powerful tool of socio-political engineering.

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Following Franco

Spanish culture and politics in transition, 1962–92


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