Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Last Spanish Civil War Pen and Ink Soldier Dies

The last surviving artist behind the gallant mobilizing posters lighting up the walls of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War passed away earlier this year. Fontsere, one of many "pen and ink" soldiers, produced the famous FAI poster of a peasant raising a scythe in defiance while strong modernist letters issued the battle cry of "libertat!" Fontsere escaped into exile as the revolution subsided and spent some time in NYC, but his concerns lay with the plight of those third class emigrates ignored by what he termed the "relevant figures" of the republic and trapped in a cycle of concentration camps and production in the French war industry.

Looking at some of the revolutionary works produced during this period, influenced originally by South American revolutionary artists, you are struck by a chronic lack of output of original artistic material put to the service of political movements today. This is even more startling given the emphasis some activists insist on placing on art for containing some sort of inherent radicalism striving to promote its own autonomy against the market. What we have is recycled images churned through a mill of Photoshops and an unfortunate aesthetic that fails in its mimicing of street art all too often. Now Fontsere - there was someone who knew how to produce truly original street art.

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