“Sojurn in Spain” (2): Art, War and Peace – Af Ron Ridenour

En rejseberetning af Ron Ridenour: “Sojurn in Spain” – Med Collager af Jette Salling – 2. afsnit

KPnetBlogs bringer en spændende rejseberetning som sommerføljeton  i 7 dele skrevet af  Ron Ridenour med collager af Jette Salling. De to har besøgt Spanien og videregiver her tanker og indtryk fra landet – om politikken, historien, naturen og menneskene de har mødt. Teksten er på engelsk. Afsnit 3 udgives onsdag d. 19. juli

Se intro – oversat til dansk –  og 1. afsnit her


I’m no art critic or connoisseur but “I know what I like”. For instance, cutting a hole in a canvas and having it placed in the gaudy Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is Yoko Ono’s idea of “art” while I view it as a kindergarten child’s play. But what can you expect from such as Solomon Guggenheim, born into wealth and owner of the Alaskan Yukon Gold Company. Today, the company’s in situ value in gold, silver, zinc, lead and copper is around $700 million. http://www.24hgold.com/english/company-gold-silver-yukon-gold-corporation.aspx?id=16918558E6680&market=YGDC.OB

This gigantic museum’s titanium-clad, steel architecture is built to make commoners feel small, so I think although a psychologist would probably categorize me as an insecure-paranoid. Being at Guggenheim’s monster made me feel anger down to my gonads, anger at what the Guggenheims and Rothschilds’ (Solomon married into this wealthy banking family) economic system does against us. The Guggenheim Museum, however, has some art worthy of my praise, such as Basque nationalist Eduardo Chillida and Robert Motherwell’s Eligies for the Spanish Republic.

Speaking of gaudy that was the term that came to mind when I first saw Cornet Gaudi’s works in Barcelona, especially the “Sagrada Family” church—which the oppressive and richest institution in the world, the Catholic Church, begs the public to pay for.

Art can inspire my sense of beauty and creativity, as it must for all, but especially when it speaks for justice, for what is good for humanity, for all life forms, its ability to teach us purpose. I have in mind artists such as Picasso, his friends Miró, Henri Matisse, George Braque; and Chillida, Goya (Disasters of War), Diego Rivera, Van Gogh, Natalie Goncharova, and others we saw in these marvelous Spanish museums. We spent several days in museums in Malaga, Barcelona and Madrid.

In Picasso’s Malaga home-museum and two others there devoted to his works (plus a library about him), we saw how his middle-class family lived, and many of young Picasso’s etchings, paintings, ceramics, and learned the significance of doves for him and his art professor-painter father, José Ruiz Blasco.

When Pablo was just 11, he painted doves to please his father whose eyesight was failing. For some reason doves live in droves in Malaga. Besides the natural pleasure of viewing them, the Picasso’s saw harmony in their behavior, aggression as well.

Picasso left Spain to live in Paris when 23, in 1904. He never lived in Spain again, although he visited before the Spanish Civil War started. From France, Picasso supported the Republic. His first political statement concerned the fascists “plunging Spain into an ocean of misery and death.”

When Franco organized the takeover of the Basque Country, he sought air raids from Germany and Italy. They were glad to assist—good training for terror bombings in the upcoming world war. The Guernica massacre took place on April 26, 1937. Three-fourths of the village was destroyed during three hours of constant bombings (30 tons, 6000 bombs). Most of the rest of the city was damaged except the wealthy areas, the town assembly hall, the revered Gernika Tree, and the two weapons factories, which Franco would use when his troops came three days later.

The Spanish Republic commissioned Picasso (without pay) to make what became the most famous of paintings, the 8-meter long Guernica, which was displayed first at the World Fair in Paris, July 1937. The New York Museum of Modern Art kept it safe throughout the war and turned it over to the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid, in 1981.

We stood before “Guernica” alongside people from around the world. My emotions were strong and mixed: joy for the symbolism of solidarity it represents, and tears of sorrow for the tragedy and excruciating pain people felt, the wanton murder simply for the boundlessly inane desire for power and material wealth. And it continues. Today the “democratic” states commit their terror bombings.

This is a Picasso copy placed on a wall near the Town Assembly House in Gernika. Jette stands before it.

Picasso joined the French Communist Party, in 1944, right after Paris had been liberated from the Nazis. “I have found there all whom I respect most, the greatest thinkers, the greatest poets and all the faces of the resistance fighters.” But Picasso was not cowed by atrocities regardless of where they come from and criticized Stalin, yet he remained a CP member until his death.

A leading communist, poet-author, Luis Aragon, asked Picasso to contribute a painting for a poster to support the World Conference for Peace to be held in Paris, April 1949. Aragon thought of using a dove as a symbol for justice, a bearer of messages for peace. Matisse had recently given his friend a few Milanese pigeons, and Picasso made a lithograph of one. Aragon came across it when browsing through sketches, so wrote one of Pablo’s lovers, artist Francoise Gilot, in her 1964 book, “Life with Picasso.” She is still alive at age 95, and the pigeon is still the world’s peace dove.

Jette used a Picasso peace dove for the logo of “Tid Til Fred—Aktiv Mod Krig” (Time for Peace—Active Against War.)

 Coordinators paid an unsolicited copyright fee to the Danish copyright association, which I am certain Picasso would have opposed as ludicrous and an insult to his engagement for peace.


Joan Miró’s “Mayo 1968” located at Barcelona’s Fundació de Miró, is one of my favorites. He began it at 75 and finished five years later, 1973. The colors and energy reflect that of millions of students and workers (2/3 of the work force) on wildcat strike throughout much of France. They brought the economy to a halt. (Much of Europe was also in uproar, and we students in the US were protesting for freedoms and against the war in Southeast Asia. In Mexico City, the government killed hundreds of protestors.) After a month of anti-capitalist, anti-war, near revolutionary struggle, the French Communist Party and union leaders under its influence called on students and workers to accept a bourgeois government compromise so that capitalism could continue.

The great masters continued painting until their deaths, Miró at 90, in 1983; Picasso at 92 in 1973. When 90, Picasso painted and drew 200 Works.

Joan Miró’s “Mayo 1968” is a tribute to striking students in France 1968. The black hand-print is thought to recognize solidarity with pre-historic hominoid cave painters, which can be seen in some caves in France and Spain.


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