Campesino, defiende con las armas al gobierno que te dio la tierra.
Artículo Primero: Se acuerda la expropiaciòn sin indemización y a favor del Estado de las fincas rústicas, cualesquiera que sea su extensión y aprovechamiento, pertenecientes en 18 de julio de 1936 a las personas naturales o sus conyuges y a las jurídicas que hayan intervenido de manera directa o indirecta en el movimiento insurreccional contra la República. Artículo Cuarto: El uso y disfrute de las fincas rústicas expropiadas según el artículo lo se dará a los braceros y campesinos del término municipal de su emplazamiento o de los colindantes, según los casos, con sujeción a las siguientes normas. Del decreto 7 de octubre 1936. El Ministro de Agricultura: Vicente Uribe Galdeano
[Peasant, defend with weapons the government that has given you the land… From the decree of October 7, 1936]. Signed: Renau. Ministerio de Agricultura. Gráficas Valencia, Intervenido U.G.T. C.N.T. Lithograph, 4 colors; 153 x 103 cm.
The artist Renau incorporated into his work part of the text of a law by which the land belonging to all those associated with the military rebellion was turned over to local peasants and day-laborers. The gun held by the muscular peasant is inscribed with the word decreto (decree). Curled around it, and run through by the bayonet, is a wounded snake, identified as the propietario faccioso(factious landlord). The use of this animal surely stems from the traditional use of snakes as symbols of evil, most notably in the case of the expulsion of Adam and Eve. The decree confiscating the land is presented in this poster as a weapon with which to defeat one group which had supported the military uprising that led to the Civil War: the land-owners. This decree was one of the most important efforts in the area of land reform during the war. It resulted in the transfer of nearly one-third of Spain’s arable soil to about 300,000 peasants. Vicente Uribe Galdeano, the Minister of Agriculture mentioned in the text, occupied the Ministry in the cabinets headed by Francisco Largo Caballero and Juan Negrín, from September 4, 1936 to nearly the end of the war. He was one of the most important Marxist theorists in Spain and a leader of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE). As Minister of Agriculture, Uribe opposed the collectivization advocated by the anarchist and socialist trade-unions, and upheld a policy of more moderate agrarian reform which favored peasant proprietors and tenant farmers.
The issue of agrarian reform was one of the most contentious problems faced by the Spanish Second Republic from its birth in 1931. A symbol of its importance was the renaming of a street in Madrid during the Republican period as “Agrarian Reform Street.” It has also been seen as one of the main reasons for the outbreak of the war which began in July 1936. According to one historian, the war “was initiated [by the right-wing military rebellion] for the benefit of the large property owners, and they were the winners.” The basic problem was the uneven distribution of land: traditionally in Spain there existed large (more than 100 hectares), unproductive estates and numerous landless laborers, especially in the southern and southwestern regions of the country. This resulted in frequent conflicts and violence, including crop burning and robbery. The agricultural problem remained in the forefront during the years of the conflict, and was used by the government and other organizations in their efforts to secure a popular following, as this and similar posters show.
This poster is signed by Josep Renau, one of the most important artists represented in the Southworth Collection. A member of the Spanish Communist Party, he was active during the war both in art and in politics. On September 7, 1936, when he was only twenty-nine years old, Renau was named Director General of Fine Arts in the central government; in that post, he was in charge of safeguarding the artistic treasures of Spain. He was also one of the figures responsible for organizing the Spanish Pavilion in the International Exhibition held in Paris in 1937 (for which Picasso painted Guernica). In a letter written in 1974, Renau dated this poster to 1936. It was therefore designed and printed between the date of the decree, October 7, 1936, and the end of that year. Since it was printed in Valencia, it was probably issued after the government left Madrid for Valencia on November 6. In the letter mentioned above, Renau says about this poster:
It is one of my worst posters. I made it in a hurry, in less than twelve hours, and the texts were added in the printing house. As can be seen, both the lay-out and the types of letters used are terribly bad. What could we do! It was the war. However, it is a true historical document: the official poster of the only and authentic agrarian reform that our unfortunate history has known. Aside from the extraordinary format, a very large edition was printed (I do not remember the exact numbers). It was posted even in the smallest towns throughout the territory controlled by the government of the Republic. Considering the stage of the mass-media at the time, this poster was the most useful means of informing and mobilizing the poorest peasantry in defense of the Republic. It was also the most efficacious way of increasing agricultural production in order to insure the provision of food to the front of the antifascist armed struggle.
Viewers today should not feel bound by the opinion of the artist about the quality of this poster; it remains an image of striking power. While the layout may be considered awkward, it may also be given a positive reading: the competing images of the larger-than-life laborer, the wounded snake swirling around the gun, and the hand with the sickle imbue the image with an unresolved tension which heightens the impact of each individual element. The strident colors, especially in the lower section, add a suggestion of fire-like heat that contributes to the compelling call made in the poster.
From our online exhibit: The Visual Front
Hoy más que nunca, VICTORIA
[Today more than ever, VICTORY]. Signed: Renau, 1938. SubPro. Graf. Ultra, SA, Córcega, 220, Barna. Lithograph, 7 colors; 99 x 138 cm.
This poster was issued by the Subsecretaría de Propaganda(Undersecretariat of Propaganda), an office of the central government which was headed by the renowned architect Manuel Sánchez Arcas. It was printed in Barcelona, where the government of the Republic had moved after leaving Valencia on October 31, 1937. The poster is an homage to the Republican Air Force, which remained loyal to the government to a larger degree than other sections of the military after the rebellion of July 1936. In the image, the planes in the “V” formation display the flag of the Republic on their wings. This is different from the red-yellow-red flag of the Spanish monarchy, which was used before and after the Republic and remains the flag of Spain to this day. Because of its close relationship with the Soviet Union, which supplied it with planes and provided training throughout the war, the Republican Air Force had strong communist sympathies. The poster may reflect the need to boost morale in Barcelona, which was heavily bombarded by the Nationalist airforces in the latter stages of the war.
Born in Valencia in 1907, Josep Renau was one of the artists most heavily involved in the Civil War. In 1931 he became a member of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE), and in 1934 he was arrested for taking part in a revolutionary strike. On September 7, 1936, he was named Director General of Fine Arts by a fellow communist, Jes£s Hernández, who was Minister of Public Instruction in the government of Largo Caballero. Renau remained in that post until April 1938 and continued to be involved in the propaganda effort until he left Spain for exile early in 1939. As Director General of Fine Arts, Renau’s duties included the safeguarding of the artistic heritage of Spain. He was in charge of evacuating from Madrid to Valencia the paintings in the Prado Museum, which were threatened by the bombings. He was also one of the organizers of the Spanish Pavilion in the International Exhibition held in Paris in 1937, where he was instrumental in securing Picasso’s commission to paint a mural for the pavilion, which resulted in Guernica. Renau was also an important force behind the conferring upon Picasso of the largely symbolic appointment as director of the Prado Museum. During the war, Renau designed numerous posters; as an artist, he specialized in painting and graphic design, and gradually became interested in photography. He was successful as a poster artist in the 1920s, winning numerous prizes and working on the design of billboards for the film industry.
The gleaming image of the pilot in this poster may be a reflection of this aspect of Renau’s career. In 1929, he was one of the first artists to use the technique of photomontage in Spain. He studied the work of John Heartfield, who became his favorite artist because of his active political stance and also because he favored photography over the more traditional medium of painting. On one occasion Renau said, “Yesterday Goya, today John Heartfield.” In 1933, Renau participated in the first Exhibition of Revolutionary Art held in Madrid (which included works by other artists present in this exhibition: Monleón, Rodríguez Luna and PÉrez Mateo). That year he also founded an important organization of left-wing writers and artists, the Unión de Escritores y Artistas Proletarios (Union of Proletarian Writers and Artists). In 1935 he founded and directed the magazine Nueva Cultura, where in 1936 he published an important theoretical manifesto entitled The Social Function of the Advertising Poster. After the war, he was exiled to Mexico and became a Mexican citizen. He worked with the mural painter Siqueiros, whom he had met during the war in Madrid, on a mural for the new building of the Union of Electricians in Mexico City. In 1958 he moved from Mexico to East Germany. After Franco’s death in 1975, Renau visited Spain periodically. He died in East Berlin in 1982.
From: The Visual Front: Posters of the Spanish Civil War
April 1938 - Spain - Lerida - Wide World Photos
NATIONALIST TROOPS ENTER LERIDA. — Lerida, ‘key’ town to Barcelona fell to the Nationalists after a terrific bombardment. The Nationalists are now able to command the electric power supply of Barcelona as the power lines run through Lerida. Wide World Photo shows a “cleaning up” party of Nationalist troops, engaged in a “miniature” battle in a Lerida street, as the Nationalist troops entered in the city. Wounded men can be seen in the roadway, while on the right is a soldier actually falling after being wounded.
¡Todos a reconstruir España!!
[Let’s all rebuild Spain!!]. . Gráficas Laborde y Labayen Halftone and Lithograph, 3 colors; 101 x 70 cm
Here the silhouetted images of a gear, a shovel and a cereal stalk are superimposed over a photograph of a crowd of Spaniard. The three images intersect which underscores the need for a unified effort by agricultural laborers, manual laborers, and industrial laborers to rebuild Spain.
Unlike many of the other posters in this exhibit, this poster is not Republican propaganda. The message of reconstructing Spain implies that the war has ended and, as we know, Franco and his supporters were victorious over Republican Spain. Consequently, the poster is dated to 1939 shortly after the end of military conflict on April 1, 1939. Not surprisingly, the Spanish government under Franco employed many propaganda techniques and styles similar to Republican posters to motivate the population to begin the long process of reconstruction. In addition to the reconstruction of the economy and infrastructure, the Franco government faced the task of social rebuilding and unifying a country that had recently been torn in half with discontent still present. In the case of social rebuilding, one of the key strategies was to repress or simply eliminate individuals, groups, or publications that espoused the varied ideals of the defeated Spanish Republic. Gabriel Jackson, in his Concise History of the Spanish Civil War, estimates that the Nationalists executed 300,000 to 400,000 dissenters in the period from 1936 to 1944.
February 1936, Madrid, Planet News Ltd.
THOUSANDS WELCOME RELEASED REBEL LEADER IN MADRID. — Packing the broad streets in a solid mass thousands of demonstrators waving banners and slogans gathered to welcome Don Ramon Gonzalez Pena, one of the leaders of the October, 1934, revolt on his return to Madrid. Don Gonzalez was released under the amnesty freeing all political prisoners, issued after the recent elections. Photo shows huge crowds gathered in Madrid to greet Don Ramon Gonzalez Pena on his return.
November 1936, Toledo, Keystone View Company
BLACK-CLAD WOMEN RETURN TO SCENE OF CIVIL WAR’S MOST FAMOUS SIEGE. — The scene amid the ruins of the famous ALCAZAR of TOLEDO, where men, women, and children withstood the famous siege, when mothers of some of the cadets who defended the citadel, visited the ruins. They are dressed in mourning for those who lost their lives in the terrible ordeal.
June 1937, Eibar, Associated Press of Great Britain Ltd.
NATIONALISTS BLAZE A WAY TO BILBAO: SMOKING TOWNS LEFT IN THEIR WAKE. — Leaving in their wake blazing and shattered towns and villages, the Spanish Nationalists are advancing slowly on Bilbao. The town of Eibar, some 15 miles east of Bilbao, is a particularly terrible example of the destruction which is going on. Photo shows a typical scene of wreckage in a street of Eibar, after the Nationalists had pursued their way towards Bilbao. Masonry has been torn from buildings, and the smoke of burning houses hangs around the shop-fronts.