Main Menu   Chronology   Murals   Portraits   Drawings   Still Lifes   Landscapes & Interiors   Illustrations   Water Colors   Pastels   Modernism   Old Age   Shows   Memoirs   About Quintanilla   Bibliography   Photographs   Aesthetic Survey   More




Franco's Black Spain

(Pen on paper: 13 x 17": Barcelona, 1938)


"But in spite of the conditions of the war my father, being an artist, continued with his art, and in the final months, in Barcelona, did a set of fiercely satirical drawings of Franco and his henchmen. These included the entire cast of Germans, Italians, Requetes, Falangists, aristocrats, clerics, and Moors who had come together to steal Spain and the Spanish government away from its people. And since my father was a satirist his drawings throw a powerful light upon the character and motives of the Fascists.


Franco on a Chain


"There was a satiric drawing of General Franco being led about on a chain attached to his nose by his German allies. Others portray the sycophants and opportunists such people as Franco draw like flies.





"Then there is the elegant caricature of the aristocrats, seated at a cafe table, idly lounging, the long leg of a chic woman elegant and well formed: the male aristocrats standing or seated above her putrid in face but faultless in their well tailored clothes.


Arian and Hog


"The huge hog's head in the arm of the representative of the master race is less brutal and more sympathetic than the face of his Aryan pillager. The Germans are portrayed with square brutal heads and broad brutal palms raised up in the Fascist salute.



Italian Soldiers


"The Italians appear with their elaborate moustachios and long hair, thin Mediterranean hairy arms,



Italian Soldiers


" .... and with a greater interest for food and grand opera than for war.





"One drawing reveals them in a characteristic attitude which was well known to the Loyalists: their backs facing the viewer as they scamper in retreat.



Quiepo de Llano


"Quiepo de Llano, "the drunkard of the airwaves," is portrayed smugly raising his glass in a toast before a microphone, with an array of brutal drunken Fascist faces grouped admiringly around him.



General Mola


"That other general, Mola, smart in his military uniform, looks down into an open mass grave as two small sentimental family portraits hang high in the background: one reveals his father marching in military step, titled "A mi Padre:" the other shows his mother with a fruity stupid smile on her face holding an open fan up before her collarbone titled "A mi Madre."





"The Falangists appear as arrogant senoritos (rich pretty boys) in their thin Fascist moustaches and slicked down black hair. They too sense the importance of their uniforms and appear immaculate in every detail.



Moors selling ears


"Then the Moors appear displaying their primitive ferocious tribal customs: in one drawing a Moor is displayed selling the ears of his victims, an event which actually occurred in Caceres.



Moors Fighting Over Their Loot


"In other drawings they fight with one another over their loot.



An Abandoned Woman


"And since their Spanish officers stimulated their fighting spirit by allowing them to do whatever they wished with the "red" civilian population, another drawing reveals an abandoned woman with two tiny newborn babies in her lap who possess Moorish features.



Civil Guards


"Then there are the Civil Guards, hated by Spaniards for decades for being the brutal enforcers for their indifferent and egocentric masters. These are displayed realistically, with characteristic facial features.



German Officer


"It is true that in all the drawings the psychological inner being of these men who waged war against the Spanish people is brought out and exaggerated. The brutal lips of the Nazi officer delicately holding a swagger stick as he looks back past his shoulder through the barbed wire at the emaciated near-naked prisoners within can be found in certain newsreels and photographs. And it is also true that the Germans not only refined their military techniques in Spain but also developed their skills at managing concentration camps.





"The clergy appears in these satirical drawing, gleefully applauding the torture of their helpless enemies or their execution before a firing squad (always simple people)....



Religious Procession


" .... or approaching us in a religious procession: smug, piggish, cruel, fanatical, accompanied by a Guardia and a typical Falangist hanger-on as a simple mother and child are helplessly herded on before them.



Mass Grave


"Not one face among these rises up out of the pit of ignorance, brutality, cruelty, and greed. And their victims appear frequently in these drawings, in mass graves, their arms tied behind them, hanging from trees, in pits, dead on the ground in contorted poses.



German Testing Ground


"There are the destroyed buildings in the background too.



Basking in the glow


"All the benefits these men brought to Spain are revealed, and their motives too. The plump little selfcentered Franco is revealed basking in the glow of his homage: the features of his attendants sculpted clean of all but the base inner selves of their beings. And isn't that the way that always is?





"And there is also that drawing my father sketched of the two old people who had been murdered in their bed by the Moors in Peguerinos, who had occupied the town for only two hours.





"The victims always appear helpless and simple in these drawings: the backgrounds they bring with them are of warm ovens for bread, simple laundry lines in the sun, beds and tables and simple homes with children crying and playing. Fields to be worked. The sun and fall of night to be enjoyed. The whisper of that background present always in the ruthless indifferent crushing of their lives. The people of Spain are presented as the victims here and the central driving core of the satire is against the wrongful theft of their simple lives. And these he did in Barcelona near the end, from his imagination. And nearly a decade later they were published in a book in New York, in Franco's Black Spain."

From Waiting at the Shore



A Pit





Civil Guards




















Franco and his Spanish Allies







Franco's Black SpainThen in 1946 Franco's Black Spain came out. Julio Alvarez del Vayo had suggested the book and arranged for the drawings to be published. The dust jacket was a striking black reproduction of a small group of Guardia Civiles. Like the negative of a photograph, the black lines and white spaces were reversed, so that the outlines of the Guardias appear white against a stark black background. And the result is that they appear chillingly brutal and cruel. Richard Watts, Jr., the drama critic for the New York Post, which was still a respectable paper then, wrote a very fine introduction as well as a running commentary. And once again the book received a great deal of publicity and favorable attention. This small anti-Fascist book also became popular with the American left, for which he is still known by some of the old timers. But it is also the book which created his reputation as a "cartoonist," for on the thick glossy pages the drawings took on a certain cartoonlike quality, and the satire, with the thickening of the lines, took on the appearance of caricature.

They were fine drawings, and some of them were excellent, but they should never have become representative in toto of the kind of artist he was. The tag cartoonist stuck, and for many years it was only Franco's Black Spain by which many people knew him. But clearly this book was only one small aspect of his diverse talents. He never did things in the same way twice. A complete artist, he mastered each art form and technique he attempted very quickly, inventing some new ones of his own. And he always captured the mood and character of his themes, creating original poetic paradigms of whatever subjects he put on canvas or paper. Perhaps the saddest aspect of this characterization is that it entirely neglected what he was doing then in his studio, in the mornings with his small canvases, which gradually evolving and improving, may have become his best surviving work. Even the black and whites he did then in New York possessed a new harmony and dignified gentle beauty which was entirely different from anything he had done before or during the war. But the tag "cartoonist" stuck, replacing now such terms as "hero" and "revolutionary artist" whenever the press referred to him. And by 1946 the world of art had also shifted its focus elsewhere.

Graphic Witness has offered both the text and the illustrations for Franco's Black Spain.

In 2009 the Spanish Ministry of Culture published a Spanish version of Franco's Black Spain, La Espana Negra de Franco. Yes, as the artist's son I was quite amazed to actually see these drawings appear in a book in Spain, even close to half a century after Franco's death.




Main Menu   Chronology   Murals   Portraits   Drawings   Still Lifes   Landscapes & Interiors   Illustrations   Water Colors   Pastels   Modernism   Old Age   Shows   Memoirs   About Quintanilla   Bibliography   Photographs   Aesthetic Survey   More

Drawings and Engravings Menu