From the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War on 18 July 1936, Picasso’s political stance favouring the Republican cause was unquestionable. Throughout the conflict and right up to the end of his life, Picasso clearly defined himself as anti-Francoist. This stance took various forms within Picasso’s very identity.
It goes without saying that Picasso was, above all, an anti-Francoist artist. For him, “painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war for attack and defence against the enemy”. His masterpiece Guernica rises up against barbarity, and although none of the painting’s elements situates the depicted scene in Spain, Guernica became the symbol of protest for all Spanish artists opposed to Franco.
However, Picasso’s anti-Francoism did not stop at the creations for the Spanish pavilion at the 1937 International Exposition (The Dream and Lie of Franco, Guernica). Research conducted on Picasso’s private archives at the Musée Picasso-Paris allows us to show that Picasso’s anti-Francoism also manifested itself in the form of personal engagement.
Internationally renowned and a prominent figure who attracted intense media coverage, Picasso received many requests from political prisoners and exile support associations. So, Picasso’s anti-Francoism also entailed providing considerable financial support for anti-fascist actions.
But, Picasso did not simply sign cheques or lend his name as a label for appeals. As an exiled Spanish citizen, Picasso got personally involved in supporting the repressed populations. After sifting through the boxes of the F-series dedicated to Spain from Picasso’s private archives (holdings 515AP), we were able to understand that Picasso himself was the driving force behind the creation of the Comité d’Aide aux Républicains Espagnols (Spanish Republican Support Committee) in Paris, which seemed to coordinate donations arriving from countries in the Americas for their subsequent remittance to a hospital for Spanish refugees in Toulouse.
This presentation will therefore be an opportunity to retrace the sequence of discoveries from Picasso’s private archives that led us to that conclusion.