Thursday, May 15, 2008


... not so much info available on the creator of this image - & even less of it in English. Single most useful source is his entry in the exhibition catalogue for "Shouts From the Wall: an exhibit of Spanish Civil War posters", published by the University of Princeton. Here's what little I can gather:

Ramón Puyol (1907-1981). Born in the town of Algiceras (Andulucia province). By the late 1920s, was making a living doing illustrations for a number of Spanish publishing houses. Dedicated member of the Spanish Communist Party (probably from at least 1930, when Spanish Communism was very much in the shadow of the local Socialist party & various Anarchist groups). Travelled abroad several times, and in a 1933 visit to Moscow he worked on one of Mayakovsky's theatrical productions. During the Spanish Civil War, designed graphics for Red Aid International (Sp: Socorro Rojo Internacional) - a humanitarian charity directed by the Comintern.

... and hence, the image above. Published in Feb of 1937 within a folio of 10 lithographs, each of which mixes the burlesque & the monstrous in its portrait of 10 different bourgeois personality-types: the hoarder, the defeatist, the spy (etc). Dedication of the folio is to his brother Miguel, "murdered by the fascist hordes". The Ultraleftist caricatures the Trotskyist; its target is the POUM militia. For all those clenched fists, the shadow is gathering into the raised open hand of the fascist salute... & I figure the metamorphosis of his left foot into a tree stump to be the allegorical indication that this character is safely rooted to a position far-in-back of the front lines.

This is still some months in advance of the open fighting between the Communists & the POUM, detailed in Orwell's Homage to Catalonia: messy politics! Propaganda graphics typically tend to the crude (to say nothing of the then-Soviet penchant for socialist realism), but this is a tremendous, cartoon-like image: the zealous super-marxist, with his homely capitalist swine lurking within...
... another from the same folio: The Rumour.

Iberian history is rich with horrible ironies. Puyol was captured by the falange after the capitulation of Madrid. Sentenced to death, which was commuted to 30 years in prison, he was then offered a reduced sentence in exchange for restoring Tiepolo's fescoes in the San Lorenzo de Escorial monastery. Presumably, many of Spain's most able & gifted artists were either already dead, or had fled the country in advance of Franco's hordes.

Below, the cheerfully dilapidated (2nd thought: maybe not so cheerfully) house Puyol was born in:

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