Picasso’s 'Dream and Lie of Franco:' The Spanish Civil War in Print
June of 2017 will mark eighty years since the production of Guernica by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), made in response to the horrific events of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). This exhibition commemorates the anniversary of Picasso’s great painting by showcasing a pair of prints in the Meadows collection that was transformed by the very same events that inspired Guernica.
In January of 1937, Picasso began work on a set of prints titled The Dream and Lie of Franco. The prints were made in support of the Spanish Republican government, caught in a grisly civil war with the conservative Nationalist party headed by Francisco Franco (1892–1975). These prints were the first expressly political artworks of Picasso’s career, designed to satirize Franco and delegitimize his cause. But the bombing of the small town of Guernica on April 26, 1937, would have a radical impact on Picasso’s project. This event interrupted the execution of the second plate and immediately inspired Guernica, among his most ambitious and celebrated works; Picasso returned to his print series only after the painting was completed. The Meadows collection possesses the only near-complete set of proofs of these prints in the United States. These proofs, which signpost the stages of Picasso’s working process from start to finish, before and after the bombing of Guernica, reveal the visible effects of this event on Picasso’s art in response to the Spanish Civil War. The final prints will be exhibited alongside these proofs as a means of dramatizing the impact of the historical moment that this exhibition commemorates on their production and, ultimately, on their final form.
Picasso’s Dream and Lie of Franco were made during a period that witnessed a burst of creative work on paper in the form of posters, cartoons, postcards, and satirical illustrations. The Meadows Museum is in possession of a set of posters from this period that are exemplary of the thematic and visual-cultural context from which The Dream and Lie of Franco emerged. Presented across from Picasso’s prints in this exhibition, these extraordinary artifacts will be on view at the Museum for the first time.
This exhibition has been organized by the Meadows Museum and funded by a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation.