Paul Robeson singing for Republican Troops in 1938 in Tarazona and not Teruel as is often stated. His repertoire included L’Internationale and ended with Ol’ Man River
Striking photomural by Josep Renau, exhibited at the Spanish Pavilion of the 1937 Paris World’s Fair (as was Guernica), contrasting a woman from Salamanca in bridal dress and a militiawoman from Barcelona – in trousers as she strides confidently forward.. The legend on the glass under the militiawoman confirms this message: “The New Woman of Spain has rid herself of the superstitions and misery of her past enslavement and is reborn and capable of taking part in the celebration of the future”
“Superimposed on a glass wall, and standing side by side, are life-sized photos of two Spanish women. One woman is dressed in a traditional, elaborately constructed, and richly decorated wedding dress. The other woman, a Republican militiawoman, is wearing an open-collared shirt and trousers. The woman wearing the traditional dress appears weighted down by its voluminous multi-layered skirt and long sleeves. Her arms hang down limply by her side, her mouth is tightly closed, and she stares straight ahead. In comparison, the fabric of the trousers and shirt of the militiawoman is lightweight enough to appear to be moving as she strides confidently forward. Her arms convey strength and movement, as does her left shoulder, which seems to more toward the viewer. The woman’s mouth is open and she appears to be issuing some sort of command. Her eyes are piercing and intent. Her head is uncovered and her hair is pulled off her face. Unlike the bride in the other photograph, this woman appears to be walking out of the display straight towards the visitor. The only adornment on her clothing is a leather strap across her shoulder–possibly a gun holster–investing her with an aggressive and militaristic persona. ”
Explaining the intended message of Renau’s photomural,
Jordana Mendelson writes:
…Renau contrasted the Arxiu Mas image of traditional culture with the forward stride of a young militia woman. The photomural
used the visual comparison to reinforce a message about the liberation of women under the Republic: shedding her age-old
traditional dress, the new woman of the revolution would find freedom in her fight against fascism.
The legend on the glass under the militiawoman confirms this message: “The New Woman of Spain has rid herself of the superstitions and misery of her past enslavement and is reborn and capable of taking part in the celebration of the future” (Graham 112 n.7).
For visitors to the 1937 World’s Fair, the trousers on the miliciana would have been the most obvious sign of Spanish women’s new emancipation and alignment with aggressive political action. As Nash explains … for [Spanish] women the wearing of trousers or monos [blue
overalls] acquired an even deeper significance, as women had never before adopted such masculine attire. So for women, donning the
militia/revolutionary uniform not only meant an exterior identification with the process of social change but also a
challenge to traditional female attire and appearance.
The last time Picasso’s Guernica was seen in the UK was in a car showroom in Manchester in early 1939. The image is of a leaflet announcing the Guernica exhibition, distributed by Manchester Foodship for Spain campaign, 1939. With the Republic on the verge of defeat the thousands of pounds raised was sent to Spanish refugees. More on this interesting story here at The Tate’s website.
Madrid 1937 under fascist bombs – Los Aviones Negros (The Black Planes) (1937) by Horacio Ferrer Morgado. In Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
Note: Los Aviones Negros (The Black Planes) was the painting the Basque government wanted for the Paris World Fair – they didn’t like a certain painting Picasso had produced.
Meanwhile today those who tried to stop this murder in Madrid are to have a small monument to them pulled down while those responsible for the city’s bombing still have huge arches built to the name of their “victory”
Poster by Evarist Mora Roselló, “Don’t send your products to the free market. Sell them to the agricultural unions” The “free market” is represented by the wolf. Catalan Dept of Agriculture Barcelona 1937
“Hikers / be careful with fire! : your lack of care could destroy your best friend, the forest.” Catalan Dept of Agriculture Barcelona, 1930s.