From Picasso’s caricature Dream and Lie of Franco to Toño Salazar’s Coplas

The backbone of our exhibition “Cartoons on the Front Line” is the pair of sugar-lift aquatints with scraper that make up Dream and Lie of Franco. Picasso made these etchings in Paris, in June 1937, almost a year into the Spanish Civil War, in order to raise money for the Republican cause.

The context of the exhibition as a whole brings out the true value of the etchings, which can be seen here in all their essence and at the same time socialized, interacting as they do with a multidisciplinary group of works — around one hundred and twenty! — by different artists: paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, illustrated books, documentary films, magazines and posters of authors artists from Goya to Picasso himself by way of Grosz, Heartfield, Helios Gómez, Luis Seoane, Brangulí, Josep Maria Sagarra, Centelles, Pérez de Rozas, Josep Renau, Mauricio Amster, Mariano Rawicz and others.

It is important to highlight here the contribution made by the Salvadoran cartoonist, illustrator and writer Toño Salazar, who did the magnificent illustrations for Rafael Alberti’s book Las Coplas de Juan Panadero (1949), seven of the original drawings for which (the whereabouts of the eighth is unknown) are on show at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona until 29 May, and will subsequently be at the Museo Picasso in Málaga from 20 June to 2 October.

Alfred Jarry. The True Portrait of King Ubu. 1896. Woodcut (test XIV/XX). Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Picasso saw in the character of Ubu created by the French dramatist Alfred Jarry in 1896 a caricature of General Franco, the protagonist of the cartoons that make up the prints: ‘Every man has his caricature, as he has his own life, his own death,’ said Salazar, author of the book Caricaturas 1930, for which the artist Kees van Dongen wrote a foreword.

As a teenager in El Salvador Salazar was an avid reader of the work of the Barcelona cartoonist Lluís Bagaría and of illustrated periodicals such as Simplícissimus, L’Assiette du Beurre and Le Rire. After sojourns in Mexico, Paris, New York, Argentina and Montevideo he returned to El Salvador in 1953.

Salazar was a restless and constantly active artist who liked to listen to the landscape. He said that ‘(The) cities and villages (of El Salvador) have the onomatopoeia of the earthquake: Tonacatepeque, Sonsonate, Zacatelocuca…’.

Noted for his unceasing struggle against fascism and for the rights of peoples, this supremely cosmopolitan man was regarded as a vital link between Europe and America.

Toño Salazar: ‘With a pistol in his coat tails / and a tibia for a cane / Don Paco from Ferrol / goes trampling the Hispanic soil’ (1949). Indian ink on cardboard. Art Museum of El Salvador. Museo de Arte de El Salvador. Toño Salazar Collection, Sagrera Guirola family.

For Toño Salazar ‘The caricature is like one of those many-handed Hindu divinities: it touches everything. It’s like certain gods who are waiting for some slight small provocation to present themselves; it’s like the ghost at the spiritualist’s table: a propitious moment, and we shall be confounded by its appearance. There is a little current, a little intelligent breeze of nonsense that envelops everything, that surrounds every situation, like the oxygen that assists the life of the contradiction that incubates in everything!’

Salazar was a great admirer of Picasso, to whom he dedicated a number of cartoons at different times in his life. At the opening of an exhibition of prints by Picasso in El Salvador, Salazar broke the stunned silence by declaring impatiently: ‘We are giving this great artist what no one has bestowed on him: Silence!’

Claustre Rafart i Planas
Co-curator of the exhibition “Cartoons on the Front Line”

  • kap
    May 19, 2011

    És una delícia poder veure els originals de Toño Salazar, així com altres joies que hi ha en aquesta exposició, com la baralla antifeixista de Mauricio Amster o l’edició del Hintergrund de Grosz! Aquestes caricatures de Salazar es van publicar també al número tres de la revista clandestina ‘Cultura y Democracia’, editada a Paris el 1950… per suposat la seva circulació a la Espanya franquista fou totalment prohibida…

  • Claustre Rafart
    May 19, 2011

    Sí, realment és impressionant el treball d’aquests creadors. En el cas concret de Salazar, per exemple, sorprèn molt l’admiració que tenia a Lluís Bagaría. Des d’El Salvador, sent molt jove, ja coneixia l’obra d’aquest barceloní que tant va fer per l’art caricatura

  • jo
    May 19, 2011

    esto es un aburrimiento total!!!!!!!!
    hablad mas de futbol i menos de pintura frikis

  • Redacció del museu
    May 20, 2011

    jo, es que estás en un blog de un museo de arte. Seguro que por Google puedes localizar blogs sobre fútbol. Un cordial saludo

  • Tania Pleitez
    May 23, 2011

    Toño Salazar solía decir que: “Yo creo que si una persona es larga y las demás la ven redonda, no importa que la hagamos cuadrada”. En sus primeras caricaturas, fusionó la figura precolombina y el cubismo (por ejemplo, una de César Vallejo, algunas de Picasso). Su trazo quería captar la “extravagancia espiritual” de las personas y así aparece un peculiar Picasso en las varias caricaturas que realizó del artista. Gracias, Museo Picasso, por hacer visible la obra de este salvadoreño.

  • Redacció del museu
    May 24, 2011

    Gracias a ti Tania. Nos alegramos que te guste y agradecemos mucho tu aportación.

  • Emilia Torras
    June 29, 2011

    Exposició sorprenent que mostra un vessant de Picasso força desconegut per al gran públic.

  • Museu Picasso
    June 30, 2011

    Gràcies Emilia, és una exposició nascuda i treballada amb la voluntat d’aportar narratives noves sobre Picasso, a més de posar en valor els dos gravats de “Somni i Mentida de Franco” que pertanyen a la nostra col·lecció.

  • Alicia Cagnasso
    May 20, 2012

    Muy bueno el artículo. Soy de Uruguay y estoy preparando un libro sobre Alberti en nuestro país, y el mismo incluye su relación con Toño Salazar. ¡Esta época fue apasionante!

  • Museu Picasso
    May 20, 2012

    ¡Gracias Alicia! Nos alegramos que el artículo te guste y te sea útil. Mucha suerte con el libro.

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