“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”
…and Frida’s reality was a lifetime of extreme physical pain and tortuous suffering, punctuated with a tempestuous emotional turbulence.
Artist Frida Kahlo was born in 1907, the daughter of Hungarian Jewish father and indigenous Mexican mother. She grew up in Mexico City at a time when Mexicans were beginning to take great pride in their native culture and traditions. Frida was proud of her pre-Columbian heritage and wore local costume, including long embroidered skirts in bright colours, big silver earrings, flowers, and jewellery from the folk tradition. Her distinctive look gave her a brand, yet averted attention from her tiny, weak, disabled body. (more…)
This is an extremely interesting article from the New Statesman by Jonathan Vernon:
Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ on view at the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid. Photo: Getty
One would expect a game of word association on a busy street to match many a ‘Picasso’ with ‘Guernica’. Commissioned for the Spanish Republican Pavilion at the 1937 Paris World’s Fair, Guernica took as its subject the aerial bombardment of the eponymous Basque town. Heinkel bombers flying for General Franco had razed it to the ground across three days earlier that year. The visual language Picasso wrought from that event gave form to human suffering with unparalleled potency.
But it also gave birth to a reputation. It is with Guernica that we are introduced to the defiant pacifist, the Picasso that would stand firm during the Occupation of Paris, and join the French Communist Party (PCF) upon its Liberation. The story goes something like this: exiled from Spain, and fully aware of the threat its Falangist occupiers posed to civilisation, Picasso joined ‘le famille communiste’ and became its most distinguished voice in the struggle against fascist and capitalist tyranny alike.
The breast, at this point, is prompted to swell uncontrollably. After all, this tale boasts every trope of our most loved and recyclable yarns: the rustic warrior exiled from his homeland, the surging rebellion yearning a voice, and the depraved autocrat condemning it to silence. It telescopes Homer and Hemingway in equal measure. It is almost enough to make us forget that we are talking about a painter.
And yet the demands of history have a way of reasserting themselves. Such is the nature of research conducted by Genoveva Tusell Garcia, published earlier this year in The Burlington Magazine. Citing correspondence within the Franco government, Garcia makes an extraordinary claim. Although the regime’s prevailing attitude toward Picasso was one of hostility, certain of its members came to see an advantage in taming his reputation and sharing in his achievements. In 1957, they approached the painter to discuss the possibility of his work returning to Spanish collections, and even a retrospective.
Meanwhile, last month “marked the 130th birthday of pioneering Austrian sociologist, philosopher, and curator Otto Neurath, who in the 1930s, together with his wife Marie, invented ISOTYPE — the vintage visual language of pictograms that gave rise to modern infographics.” Check out some interesting examples via Maria Popova.
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01 Jan 1938
A portrait of Hungarian-born photojournalist Robert Capa (1913 – 1954) used to introduce an article, featuring his pictures of the Spanish Civil War, in Picture Post, 3rd December 1938. (Photo by Pict… Read more
By: Picture Post
Collection: Hulton Archive
People: Robert Capa
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The NY Daily News has a feature on historical pictures which have been altered. Stalin’s airbrushing out of photos anyone who he wanted politically disappeared is a well known act of totalitarian historical revisionism. Less well known is Fidel Castro’s similar antics. This is from no.12 of the slide show:
COURTESY OF FOURANDSIX
Fidel Castro (r.) approved a Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1968 causing Carlos Franqui (bottom c.) to split with Castro’s regime. Castro then decided to split with any images including Franqui.
discover my photographic death.
Do I exist?
I am a little black,
I am a little white,
I am a little shit,
On Fidel’s vest.
While I’m here, some links via Entdinglichung: From Wiesbadener Kurier on Rudolf Rocker (DE) in the Guardian a biographical interview with Selma James (EN), the Fundación Andreu Nin recall the stalinist disappearing of Andreu Nin und Camillo Berneri 75 years ago in Barcelona (ES). In Libcom, notes on some key battles in the class struggle: The Finnish Class War 1918 (1993), The 1946 General Strike of Rochester, New York (2007) and The occupation of the factories: Paris 1936, Flint 1937 (1999), plus Emma Goldman on The Social Importance of the Modern School (19??). And in Anti-Fascist Archive: K. Bullstreet: Bash the Fash: Anti-Fascist Recollections, 1984-1993 (199?); London Anti-Fascist Action: Filling the Vacuum (1995); and Newspaper Articles on Red Action and Anti-Fascist Action from The Guardian (1983-1996).
- Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes: All of history summed up in an uncashed check (lancemannion.typepad.com)
- Superheroes in Old War Photos (dailypics.co.cc)
- 75 years ago today: the May Days (poumista.wordpress.com)
I know I have featured the amazing photography collection of the Library of Congress more than once in the past, but am not sure if I have featured its blog, Picture This. Here are some recent entries:
February 23rd, 2012 by Kristi Finefield
When James Maxwell Pringle departed for Russia in November 1917, his intent was to visit the Petrograd (St. Petersburg) branch of his employer, National City Bank. His business trip turned into an unexpected window on the Bolshevik Revolution. Arriving in Petrograd in the days just after the October Revolution, when Bolshevik forces overthrew the Russian …
Petrograd – Scenes of the burial of the victims of the March Revolution on the Field of Mars. Photos by James Maxwell Pringle, betw. 1917 and 1918. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.31329
Arriving in Petrograd in the days just after the October Revolution, when Bolshevik forces overthrew the Russian Provisional Government, the photo album Pringle compiled is peppered with the effects of the conflict. His photographs in Moscow, Petrograd, and other Russian cities show bullet-riddled buildings, prisoners, parades and marches, ceremonies to memorialize those killed and everyday Russians living amidst the turmoil.
Moscow – Results of the Fighting. Photo by James Maxwell Pringle, betw. 1917 and 1918. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.31325
This photo album was a recent gift to the Prints and Photographs Division by Pringle’s nephew, Robert M. Pringle, and offers a unique outsider’s perspective on the internal conflict that eventually reshaped Russia into the Soviet Union. The photos document his travels through Russia and into Asia over the course of many months as he made his way back to the U.S. with a group of travel companions.
Pringle’s album joins the Library’s strong collections of personal photo albums and extensive research resources on the history of Russia and the Soviet Union. A selection of images from the album has been digitized and the full album can be viewed by appointment in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room.
- View the digitized images from the James Maxwell Pringle album. (A description of the album includes access information.)
- Explore other images related to the Russian Revolution in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog
- See Russia as it looked from 1905 to 1915 through the Prokudin Gorskii Collection
- Read an overview of the Russian Collections at the Library of Congress and browse other digital presentations on Russia.
February 1st, 2012 by Barbara Orbach Natanson
Students at the Woolworth’s lunch counter on the second day of the sit-in, Greensboro, North Carolina. UPI photo, 1960 Feb. 2. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.08095
On February 1, 1960, four young men sat down at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, and ordered coffee and doughnuts. More than fifty years later, this may not seem like a daring act, but it was. First the waitress and then the store manager explained that the lunch counter was reserved for white people and that they could not serve the four freshmen from the nearby Agricultural & Technical College, because they were African American.
The four men– Ezell Blair, Jr., Franklin McCain, David Richmond, and Joseph McNeil–refused to leave, and the next day fellow students joined the sit-in. As news of the protest spread, African Americans sat down at segregated lunch counters elsewhere in the South, and picketers demonstrated in front of Woolworth stores in New York City, even though segregation was not practiced at their lunch counters.
One-man demonstration at a closed lunch counter in Nashville. UPI photo, 1960 March 25. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c35490
Protest by ministers. AP photo, 1960. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.08096
Photographs of the sit-ins distributed by the news wire services convey the resolve of the students, the hostile reaction they endured, as well as the impact on lunch counter business. The images helped raise awareness of racial injustice and growing resistance to it. Today they offer a continuing reminder of the many individual acts of courage that made up the Civil Rights movement.
Civil rights march on Washington, D.C. Photo by Warren K. Leffler for U.S News & World Report, 1963 Aug. 28. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.04297
Our pictorial collections document many events of the Civil Rights era. We have digitized quite a few of the images, and hundreds more can be viewed with an on-site visit. Because of rights considerations, many digitized images from the period display only in small size outside Library of Congress buildings, but we also have images that have no known restrictions on publication, with digital images that can be seen in greater detail from anywhere. We have assembled a selection of such images in our reference aid, “The Civil Rights Era in the U.S. News & World Report Photographs Collection: A Select List .”
As we begin African American History Month, we hope that the pictures and many other resources of the Library of Congress offer an opportunity to learn and to reflect.
- View additional images relating to the quest for African American civil rights that display large images outside Library of Congress buildings.
- View a summary of Prints & Photographs Division resources for the study of African American history, with search tips.
- View the African American History Month portal, highlighting resources at the Library of Congress and other institutions.
- Learn more about the Greensboro lunch counter sit-in: If you have a chance to visit Washington, D.C., the National Museum of American History has the original lunch counter and offers a performance, where visitors experience what it was like to sit-in at the lunch counter. My children and I attended and found it very powerful. You can also see the performance on YouTube.
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“And one by one the nights between our separated cities are joined to the night that unites us.” – Pablo Neruda
I just saw that Sergio Larrain, the great Chilean photographer, died last month.
“Sergio Larrain began photographing the famous Chilean port in the 1950s but it was not until 1963 that he spent more time there, this time, in the company of the poet Pablo Neruda. The text and photographs in Valparaiso were published in the journal Du in 1966. But it had to wait until 1991 before it was published as a book, which has since gained a cult following. Not only did Sergio Larrain ceaselessly climb the narrow streets, the stairs, and the hills of this city frozen in time, but he also shed light on an entire bohemian lifestyle in the neighborhoods nearby the port, which then counted some one hundred brothels and cabarets. The result is a series of pictures that has become an essential reference in the work of this photographer who escapes categorization.”–Magnum Photos
What nonsense/You are/What a crazy/Insane Port./
Your mounded head/Disheveled/You never finish combing your hair/Life has always surprised you
Working as an investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee, sociologist Lewis Hine documented working and living conditions of children in the United States between 1908 and 1924. In a series of poignant photographs, Mr Hine documented children who were sent to work soon after they could walk, and were paid based on how many buckets of oysters they shucked daily. The advent of industrialisation at the turn of the 20th century meant an exploitation of child labour, as factory workers often saw children as a cheaper, more manageable alternative to older workers.
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A wonderful gallery at Libcom. Here’s just a taste – go enjoy the real thing.
Last year marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War, a milestone commemorated by The Atlantic in a special issue (now available online). Although photography was still in its infancy, war correspondents produced thousands of images, bringing the harsh realities of the frontlines to those on the home front in a new and visceral way. As brother fought brother and the nation’s future grew uncertain, the public appetite for information was fed by these images from the trenches, rivers, farms, and cities that became fields of battle.
Contraband was a term commonly used in the United States military during the American Civil War to describe a new status for certain escaped slaves or those who affiliated with Union forces after the military (and the United States Congress) determined that the US would not return escaped slaves who went to Union lines to their former Confederate masters and classified them as contraband. They used many as laborers to support Union efforts and soon began to pay them wages. The former slaves set up camps near Union forces, and the Army helped support and educate both adults and children among the refugees. Thousands of men from these camps enlisted in the United States Colored Troops when recruitment started in 1863…While becoming a “contraband” did not mean full freedom, many slaves considered it a step in that direction. The day after Butler’s decision, many more escaped slaves found their way to Fort Monroe and appealed to become contraband. As the number of former slaves grew too large to be housed inside the Fort, the contrabands erected housing outside the crowded base from the burned ruins of the City of Hampton left behind by the Confederates. They called their new settlement Grand Contraband Camp (which they nicknamed “Slabtown”). By the end of the war in April 1865, less than four years later, an estimated 10,000 escaped slaves had applied to gain “contraband” status, with many living nearby
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As I already reported (thanks to Kate Sharpley Library), there has been a terrible theft at one of the most important cultural spaces in Barcelona, l’Ateneu Enciclopèdic Popular, which will be celebrating its centenary this year. Here is a statement from the Ateneu, badly translated into English – please circulate.
Today, 1 February 2012 entered in force to steal important documents from the Library of the Athenaeum.
Among the items stolen were:
- Original posters of the Civil War era as well as various objects also the period of the Spanish Civil War.
- Postcards from the civil war, pamphlets of many organizations and groups of the 20s and 30s and of the Franco-era underground.
- A collection of currency notes of the collectivized villages
- A postcard collection of civil war and of personalities such as Bakunin and Kropotkin
- A collection of film programs for the period of civil war
- A collection of old tram tickets for ten cents a pts.
- A collection of medals, pins, badges and insignia of the Civil War
- A folder with pictures of the free women’s and libertarian cultural associations, as well as documentation of collectivised enterprises based on the road from Ribes de Barcelona and visit of experts from Mexico.
The website contains some images, as well as a zip folder, and people are urged to look out for these. Here are just a couple of items:
The first in a (probably short) series.
Dressed for action: A female aircraft worker at the Vega Aircraft Corporation in around 1940
Squalor: A photograph of a Chicago railway yard believed to have been taken in the late 1930s
Let’s start with two snippets from the mainstream media. This morning on Radio 4, DJ Tayler, Orwell biographer, was talking about the Orwellian quest for the perfect pub. You can listen in some parts of the world here, or read about it here.
A roaring open fire. The bartender knows your name. Your pint of draught stout comes in a china cup. Did George Orwell have the recipe for the perfect pub?
Who knows who you might bump into in the perfect pub
… In an article written for the London Evening Standard in 1946, he produced a detailed description of his ideal watering-hole, The Moon Under Water, which “is only two minutes from a bus stop, but it is on a side-street, and drunks and rowdies never seem to find their way there, even on Saturday nights”.
The Guardian has a nice photo gallery of posters from the Occupy movement, with an emphasis on the retro look. Here’s one:
Turning to the alternative, Entdinglichung has a round-up of the latest in German on the Marxist Internet Archive, as part of the on-going project of bringing socialistica to the masses.
He also introduces to a great archival website called Workerscontrol.net, which “aims to be a virtual open library for the collection and access to documentation and theoretical essays on past and current experiences of workers’ control”. Material in a few languages by Cornelius Castoriadis, Ken Coates & Tony Topham, Antonio Gramsci, Karl Korsch, Rosa Luxemburg, Ernest Mandel, Paul Mattick, Anton Pannekoek, Otto Rühle, and Leon Trotsky, as well as stuff like “The Universe of Worker-Recovered Companies in Argentina (2002-2008): Continuity and Changes Inside the Movement” and “The South London Women’s Hospital Occupation 1984-85“. Check it out.
And more on the hats of the UHP:
In this poster, the image of a fighting miner emerges from behind a hill inscribed with the word “Asturias”. This refers to a region located along Spain’s northern coast, on the Bay of Biscay. The fighter carries a rifle on his shoulder and prepares to throw a stick of dynamite. Behind him a mother cares for her two young children. The green color of the sinuous mountains evokes the greenery of a region known for its abundant rainfall.
The message under the image refers to events that occurred in Asturias in 1934 and in 1937, and also to the organization issuing this poster, the Socorro Rojo de España, or Spanish Red Aid. The Red Aid was founded by the Comintern in 1921; its activities in Spain had begun before the war, assisting in the revolutionary strike that was held in many parts of the country in the fall of 1934. This strike was most successful in Asturias, where it was led by a united front of miners of socialist, communist and anarchist persuasion; thus the initials UHP in the cap worn by the miner in this poster, which stand for Unión de Hermanos Proletarios, or Union of Proletarian Brothers. After two weeks of revolution, the rebellion surrendered on October 18, 1934. The repression was conducted by military forces led by General Franco on orders from the Republican government. It is to these events that the inscription “October 1934″ in this poster refers. The second date on the poster, 1937, refers to the Civil War. In the late summer of that year, military forces, this time in rebellion against the Republic, were set to attack Asturias. The region prepared for its defense, which was much publicized throughout the country. After intense fighting, Asturias finally fell to the Nationalist army on October 21. This poster shows the mythic dimension that the Asturias revolution of 1934 had acquired in Spain immediately before and during the war. The defense of Asturias in 1937 by revolutionary miners like the one represented in this image immediately evoked the earlier events and provided an ideal opportunity to rouse the passion of the masses anew.
The author of this scene, Tomás, designed other posters during the war, but he is not otherwise known. This poster must have been designed and printed at the time of the events it commemorates, in October 1937, presumably before the fall of Asturias to the Nationalist army on October 21.
We have so many times said, for it is important to bear this in mind that the Spanish libertarian revolution was set in motion as a consequence of the Francoist attack which made it possible to put into action revolutionary forces which without it were condemned to new and sterile failures. And when we say “sterile failures” we are referring to the attempts made in January 1932, January and December 1933 (revolutionary and insurrectional attempts organised and manned by the C.N.T.-F.A.I.) to which one must add the Asturian miners’ insurrection in October 1934 in which socialist, U.G.T. and C.N.T. workers (in spite of the stupid opposition of the national Comité of the C.N.T.) and even Communists took part. All these attempts were crushed by the more powerful forces of the State, supported by the non-revolutionary political parties which, for all that, were not fascist.
- Spanish Civil War on Liverpool’s Catholic population (liverpoolhistorysocietyquestions.wordpress.com)
- TOC – War in History, Vol. 18, No. 2 (warstudies.wordpress.com)
- Leading Photographers: Gerda Taro (clikclique.wordpress.com)
- Capa’s Life (phillbrowncontextual.wordpress.com)
I have been digging around the Galeria d’Imatges site, a Catalan blog about graphic design, and found all sorts of wonders. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I hope they don’t mind me publicising them by pasting some of their images here. Please click on the images to go to the original posts.
Socors Roig. Ajut de reraguarda. POUM. Barcelona, 1936. Litografia a 3 tintes (Groc, negre i verd). Il·lustració Casals.
“[Panait] Istrati shared the leftist ideals of [Romain] Rolland, and, as much as his mentor, placed his hopes in the Bolshevik vision. In 1927 he visited the Soviet Union on the anniversary of the October Revolution. He was joined in Moscow by his future close friend, Nikos Kazantzakis. In 1928-29, after a tumultuous stay in Greece (were he was engaged in fights with the police and invited to leave the country), he went again to the Soviet Union. Through extended visits in more remote places, Istrati learned the full truth of Joseph Stalin’s communist dictatorship, out of which experience he wrote his famous book, The Confession of a Loser, the first in the succession of disenchantments expressed by intellectuals such as Arthur Koestler, André Gide and George Orwell. Istrati came back to Romania ill and demoralized, was treated for tuberculosis in Nice, then returned to Bucharest. In fact, the political opinions Istrati expressed after his split with Bolshevism are rather ambiguous. He was still closely watched by the Romanian secret police (Siguranţa Statului), and he had written an article (dated April 8, 1933) in the French magazine Les Nouvelles Littéraires, aptly titled L’homme qui n’adhère à rien (The man who will adhere to nothing).”
“Jesus Hernández was born in Spain in 1906. He held left-wing political views and in his youth he joined the Communist Party (PCE). Hernández was later to admit that he took part in a failed assassination attempt on the life [of] Indalecio Prieto, one of the leaders of the Socialist Party (PSOE).
On the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War Hernández was editor of the [C]ommunist newspaper, Mundo Obrero. In September 1936, President Manuel Azaña appointed the left-wing socialist, Francisco Largo Caballero as prime minister. Largo Caballero brought into his government two [C]ommunists [including] Hernández (Education).
Hernández, a strong opponent of the anarchists, spent the next few months trying to persuade Largo Caballero to bring the Anarchist Brigades under the control of the Nationalist Army. During the May Riots in Barcelona Hernández argued that Worker’s Party (POUM) should be outlawed. When Largo Caballero refused, he helped to force the prime minister to resign.
In his memoirs published in 1953, Hernández admitted that he was following orders from Stalin to oust Francisco Largo Caballero and to get him replaced by Juan Negrin. He also claimed that Stalin did not really care about the Republicans winning the Spanish Civil War and was more concerned with blocking German influence in the country. Jesus Hernández died in 1966.”
[…] Entre una edició i una altra, però, hi ha vàries pàgines que canvien totalment de contingut i no només de matisos. Això està relacionat amb els fets de maig del 1937. Les pagines més significatives són, doncs, les que corresponen a Largo Caballero (PSOE), president de Govern que dimití arran d’aquests fets i que en la segona edició és substituït per Pablo Iglesias, fundador del PSOE i la UGT però, alhora, l’introductor del marxisme a Espanya. D’aquesta manera, el líder socialista del moment és substituït per un difunt cosa que marca un cert allunyament d’un tarannà partidista tan marcat. El mateix passa amb el fotomuntatge de Los sindicatos deben apoyar al gobierno en el qual els emblemes de la UGT i la CNT tenien un gran preponderància en la primera edició. Aquest fotomuntatge fou substituït -hàbilment i sense cap sigla partidista- per un altre de referit a un difunt il·lustre: Durruti (Durruti murió luchando por la libertad), líder anarquista però de qui la propaganda republicana es va apropiar i el va convertir en una espècie de Ché Guevara avant-la-lettre, de manera que tothom que era d’esquerres podia identificar-s’hi. El dors d’aquests fotomuntatges continuen tenint les mateixes consignes i sil·labari en la segona edició que en la primera, la qual cosa demostra aquesta substitució intencionada d’algunes pàgines concretes.[…]
Let the scent of jasmine spread!
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Celebrate People’s History
May 17 – 29, 2010
Monday May 17th at 5.30pm
Eastside Gallery at the Linwood Community Arts Centre
Corner Worcester Street and Stanmore Road
Images can be made available for media/press by request, or preview some of the works here: http://www.justseeds.org/subjects/celebrate_peoples_history_1/