Antonio Saura: The Lie and Dream of Franco

Antonio Saura: The Lie and Dream of Franco

19.02.20 > 17.05.20

Between 1958 and 1962 Antonio Saura conceived and created a series of forty-one “satirical” drawings (as he called them) the title of which — The Lie and Dream of Franco: A Modern Parable — situates this work firmly in the Spanish tradition of the political pamphlet. Goya produced the first great example of this genre with his The Disasters of War, and Picasso continued with a work that bears almost exactly the same title as Saura’s: The Dream and Lie of Franco.

Given the circumstances, the circulation of this work by Saura could only be problematic. As a clandestine discourse, it could not be politically effective in its own time. But its date of creation, 1962, speaks to its value as a testimony of a great artist’s opposition to the regime that governed Spain for almost forty years.

In this show the forty-one drawings are exhibited in their entirety and on their own for the first time (until now, they had only been partially exhibited at the Toulouse Museum of Modern Art in 2005). They are drawings in mixed media on uniform paper, all in the same format, with India ink, pencil and washes predominating. All the drawings were made in the same moment and each bears a title — sometimes enigmatic, sometimes barely legible — as well as a signature and a date. Fortunately Saura himself also typed up the list of titles that comprise this suite. Each of them makes reference to an event, an anecdote or a person directly linked to the coming of the Franco regime, the Civil War or to Franco himself. It is worth noting the curious contrast between the more objective titles — simple references to well-known events — and those that are borrowed from poems, songs or even from music.

The narrative effectiveness of these drawings goes hand in hand with their extraordinary inventiveness. The chronological and factual references demonstrate clearly that Saura experienced the Franco regime in the post-war period with great intensity. A committed witness and attentive observer of political events as well as of daily life, Saura transforms anecdotes into symbols through the language of his art. He uses all the elements at hand to create a polymorphic caricature of the regime that should be considered a fundamental part of the large collection of works on paper that Saura dedicated to war and the calamities it engenders.

Without a doubt, Saura was a painter and a visionary.

Bartolomé Bennassar / Olivier Weber-Caflisch

11am to 2pm and 5pm to 9pm (Tuesday to Saturday) · 11am to 2pm (Sunday)

Sala Goya

Curator: Archives Antonio Saura