This international congress is the first event to be held inside the framework of the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s Death. Its title alludes to Picasso’s renowned prints under the title Sueño y mentira de Franco (The Dream and Lie of Franco, 1937), and investigates, from the field of Cultural Studies, Picasso’s relationship with the challenges, crises and transformations that shook Spain in the period stretching from the 1898 Disaster to the end of the Rif War in the 1920s.
In early twentieth-century Spain, the crossroads of modernity was expressed with remarkable intensity and the art forms of the time initiated a genuine revolution of sensibility. After the independence of the final transatlantic assets in 1898, the country wrestled with the panic of foreign occupation, collective mourning, mass despair, new African colonial undertakings and the reinvention — as the eternal nation — of an East-West syncretism of Iberian art. Country and city, nature and industry, big city and territory, contradictions that would invoke collective reactions oscillating between despair and utopia — a rich context of solidarity networks, spaces of autonomy and dreams of worlds to come. The fight against hunger and repression, a nascent class and artistic bohemia forged the country’s own image while its bodies were processed inside a dense lattice of modern institutions. Working women were also the subject of new, specific forms of violence and trade in the home, in the brothel and in the psychiatric hospital, three spaces belonging to an institutional complex which repressed and subjugated the feminine condition as the nineteenth century made way for the twentieth.
Picasso at the turn of the twentieth century, the focal point of this congress, is at once a product and producer of this historical juncture. Inhabiting the interstices of the time, his living environment and aesthetic sensibility arose from the conflicts and desires that built the industrial city and the ways of imagining alternatives that materialised from it, for instance anarchism. Lifestyles which bohemia took to cabarets and workshops, visionary pharmacology and the forms of sociability that characterised that era’s artistic milieu plotted the coordinates of a new style that dubbed Picasso avant-garde. It was in a complex network of travel — Madrid, Barcelona, Gósol, Paris — in a grid, where the imagery of a nation and its ghosts was articulated and looked to replace a mixed-race transatlantic identity in an expansive North African mission.
This congress contends that Picasso’s Spanish identity does not lie in references to the painting of El Greco, Velázquez and Murillo, or in the influence of Iberian sculpture, or even in the traces of Spain’s popular culture, as previously upheld. These references are instead symptoms of the deep-seated redefinition of Spanishness that occurred from 1898 to 1922, between the independence of nations from the Americas and the Picasso File, a report signed by the soldier Juan Picasso — the painter’s great uncle — condemning the Disaster of Annual in the Rif War and marking the start of Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship. It sets out, through the prism of Cultural Studies, to assert that Picasso was not only aware of these historical processes and transformations, but also that his work played a determining role in them. Bohemia, nationalism-colonialism, anarchism, and repressive institutional policies in relation women are the ideas that run along the four elements articulating the congress and look to shed more light on this period.
Carlos Alberdi (1956) is a commissioner for the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Picasso’s Death
Josep Casals (1955) is a lecturer in Aesthetics and Art History at the University of Barcelona. His publications most notably include El expresionismo. Orígenes y desarrollo de una nueva sensibilidad (Montesinos, 1982), Constelación de pasaje. Imagen, experiencia, locura (Anagrama, 2015) and Crónica crítica. Periodismo, universidad, burocracia, política, nación, (Anagrama, 2020). He was awarded the 31st Anagrama Essay Prize for his work Afinidades vienesas. Sujeto, lenguaje, arte (Anagrama, 2003).
Chris Ealham (1965) is a British historian and hispanist who currently lectures in History at Saint Louis University in Madrid. He has published numerous articles in different languages on the history of anarcho-syndicalism and social protest and is the author of Class, Culture and Conflict in Barcelona, 1898–1937 (Routledge, 2004) and Living Anarchism: José Peirats and the Spanish Anarcho-syndicalist Movement (AK Press, 2016) and the co-editor, with Mike Richards, of The Splintering of Spain. Cultural History and the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939 (Cambridge University Press, 2005).
Pura Fernández (1964) is a research professor at the Institute of Language, Literature and Anthropology from the CSIC Centre of Human and Social Science, director of Editorial CSIC, and head of the Scientific Culture and Citizen Science Area and joint vice-president of Scientific Culture in the same institution. Her recent publications most notably include Engaging the Emotions in Spanish Culture and History (18th Century to the Present) (with E. Delgado and Jo Labanyi; Vanderbilt Press, 2015) and 365 relojes. La Baronesa de Wilson (Taurus, 2022).
Chema González (1979) is head of the Museo Reina Sofía’s Cultural and Audiovisual Activities.
Rafael Jackson-Martín is a lecturer in Art History at the University of Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras. He has published a number of works linked to the realm of Pablo Picasso, for instance Picasso y las poéticas surrealistas (Alianza Forma, 2003), “Tres hombres líricos: Picasso, Breton, la sombra de Apollinaire y el surrealismo en 1925” (in La balsa de la medusa, No. 33, 1995) and the translation of Dictionnaire abrégé du surréalisme by André Breton and Paul Eluard (Siruela, 2003).
Jèssica Jaques Pi (1967) is a lecturer in Aesthetics and Art Theory at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and joint director of the Picasso PhD (Museo Picasso de Barcelona). She is the author of Picasso en Gósol, 1906: un verano para la modernidad (Antonio Machado, 2007) and head researcher on the project Los escritos de Picasso: textos teatrales, 2016-2018 from Spain’s Ministry of Science and Innovation.
Raquel Jimeno (1985) is coordinator of the Museo Reina Sofía’s Cultural Activities.
Germán Labrador (1980) is director of the Museo Reina Sofía’s Public Activities Department.
Dolors Marín (1957) is a historian and researcher specialised in contemporary European social movements. Her publications most notably include Anarquismo: una introducción (Ariel, 2014) and Espiritistes i lliurepensadores: dones pioneres en la lluita pels drets civils (Angle, 2018).
Eloy Martín Corrales (1949) is the head lecturer of Modern History in the Humanities Department of Universidad Pompeu Fabra, and specialises in Euro-Islamic relations, with a particular interest in economic, political and cultural spheres between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. He has most notably written the books Comercio de Cataluña con el Mediterráneo musulmán (Siglos XVI-XVIII). El comercio con los “enemigos de la fe” (Bellaterra, 2001) and La imagen del magrebí en España. Una perspectiva histórica, siglos XVI-XX (Bellaterra, 2002), and has edited Marruecos y el colonialismo español (1859-1912). De la guerra de África a la penetración pacífica (Bellaterra, 2002) and La Conferencia de Algeciras en 1906: un banquete colonial (Bellaterra, 2007).
Julia Mirabal (1950) is a journalist and producer. She lectures at the Universidad de Medios Audiovisuales Veritas (Costa Rica) and the Universidad de La Habana, and works in cultural journalism on Cuban television. She directed the documentary Picasso en blanco y negro (2000), among other works.
Rosario Peiró (1968) is head of the Museo Reina Sofía’s Collections Area.
Elsa Plaza (1950) holds a PhD in Art History and is a teacher and writer. She has published the novels Rojiza penumbra (Barataria, 2006); El cielo bajo los pies (Marlow, 2009); Jacqueline o el eco del tiempo (Mecenix, 2012); and El magnetismo del viento nocturno (Ediciones B, 2014), and the research essays Desmontando el caso de la vampira del Raval. Misoginia y clasismo en la Barcelona modernista (Antrazyt, 2014) La calle olvidada. Sant Antoni de Pàdua en el Raval (El Lokal, 2017) and La vieja cárcel de la calle Amalia. Historia y vida cotidiana (El Lokal, 2020).
Julia Ramírez-Blanco (1985) is a researcher and lecturer at the University of Barcelona. She works at the crossroads between art, utopia and activism and has published Artistic Utopias of Revolt. Claremont Road, Reclaim the Streets, and the City of Sol (Palgrave, 2018), 15M. El tiempo de las plazas (Alianza, 2021) and Amigos, disfraces y comunas. Las hermandades de artistas del siglo XIX (Cátedra, 2022).
Servando Rocha (1974) is a writer and the editor of La Felguera Ediciones and the magazine Agente Provocador. Notable among his publications is Historia de un Incendio. Arte y revolución en los tiempos salvajes: de la Comuna de París al advenimiento del punk (La, 2006) and Agotados de esperar el fin. Subculturas, estéticas y políticas del desecho (Virus Editorial, 2008). In 2021, he curated the exhibition The Mask Never Lies (CCCB, Barcelona).
Conxa Rodríguez (1958) is a journalist specialised in the art market and the author of numerous articles for El País and Público. She has published Los Thyssen. Por amor al arte (Ediciones B, 1997) and El ángel de Picasso. Historia de un bebedor de absenta (Parsifal, 2003), among other works.
José María Rodríguez García (1964) is head lecturer in the Department of Romance Studies at Duke University, where he gives courses and seminars on the political-intellectual history of Mexico and Cuba, and on Iberian Cultural Studies from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His book The City of Translation: Poetry and Ideology in Nineteenth-Century Colombia (Springer, 2010) received the PROSE Award in 2010 from the Association of American Publishers.
Abigail Solomon-Godeau (1948) is a professor emeritus in the department of Art History at the University of California Santa Bárbara. She is the author of Photography at the Dock: Essays on Photographic Histories, Institutions and Practices (University of Minnesota Press, 1992); Male Trouble: A Crisis in Representation (Thames & Hudson, 1997); Chair à Canons: Photographie, discours, féminisme (Textuel, 2015); and Photography After Photography: Gender, Genre and History(Duke University Press, 2017). Her essays on photography, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art, and feminism and contemporary art have been broadly compiled and translated.