Conscience and Conflict: British Artists and the Spanish Civil WarConscience and Conflict: British Artists and the Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War as an Inspiration to Later Artists

In 1939 the British Government formally recognised General Franco's Nationalist Government in Spain. Franco established an autocratic dictatorship, Francoist Spain, a totalitarian state of which he remained leader until his death in 1975, at which point the Spanish monarchy and democracy were restored. The philosophical and political issues raised by the Civil War continued to fascinate artists in the decades following the conflict.

The American artist R.B. Kitaj was a regular visitor to Catalonia in the 1960s and 1970s and created a series of paintings and prints investigating themes and subjects from the Civil War, such as his painting 'La Pasionaria' of the Republican heroine and orator Dolores Ibárruri whose slogan ¡No Pasarán! ('They Shall Not Pass') had become famous after the Battle of Madrid. Kitaj produced a number of screenprints featuring the covers of books published during the Spanish Civil War. Others such as the artist Ron King have returned to the imagery of Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ to explore modern conflict and political situations.