15 May


In this paper we deal with Futurism within the frame of the relationship between Modernity and Tradition in the Spanish poetry of first half of XXth Century.

The first appearance of the Marinetti’s Manifesto was misunderstood in Spain. We are going to analyze Futurism in the first Spanish movements of avant-garde, especially Ultraist Movement. The approach of the” ultraísmo” was ambiguous, struggling between pure cubist and “creacionista” poetry, namely Vicente Huidobro, Gerardo Diego and others poets, and the radical but paradoxical acceptance of former symbolist poets. In Madrid, machines and rural landscapes are seen as a mix of creation and confusion.

Spain as a peripherical country was put under tension in the own process of literary modernization. In the Spanish way to Cultural Modernity is not so funny the Wyndham Lewis´s “boutade” to Marinetti when in London: “You wops insist too much on the machine. You plows always on about these driving belts, you plows always exploding about internal combustion. We’ve had machines in for England to donkey’s years, they’re nothing new to us”.

When an avant-garde artist like Rafael Barradas (1890-1929) was painting his urban landscapes in Madrid 1919 –under the influence of Futurism-, sheeps were around the Atocha railway station (as we can see at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid).

Meanwhile, in rural Andalusia, a poet like Rogelio Buendía (1891-1969) was writing in his provincial poems about Bessemer furnaces that were contaminating the ideal landscape sung before by the symbolist poet –and Nobel Prize in Literature- Juan Ramon Jiménez. This kind of contradictions marks the way toward Modernization of the literary tradition in Spain.

We will also consider the way Futurism go across inter-war period, between the first avant-garde ”ultraísmo” (1918-1922) and the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), and how this movement enters in a crisis in the Thirties: Great Depression, II Spanish Republic and War. In fact, Literary Francoism is about a return to the ideological traditional symbolist literature, as opposed to Modern World, machine and urban life, considered as a foreign influence that have to be purified. This will be an important point in our poetic and historical outlook.


1919 – Madrid Atocha Railway Station

24 Jun

Uruguayan Painter Rafael Barradas (1890-1929) was painting vibracionists paintings in Madrid at the time:

  • De Pacífico a Atocha (1)
  • De Pacífico a Atocha (2)
  • 1919 – Deconstruction of the Symbolist Landscape

    23 Jun

    Two “onubenses” (from Huelva, Andalusia) poets: Juan Ramón Jiménez and Rogelio Buendía

    Ríotinto Industrial Complex (Huelva, Spain)
    Monfalcone Industrial Complex (Duino, Italy)

    1. El humo de los hornos Bessemer | Bessemer Furnace Smoke

    Es un bello penacho de plumas (“plumes of smoke”)
    el humo de los hornos Bessemer…
    Pero yo he auscultado pechos tísicos…
    !El humo de los hornos Bessemer!

    La chimenea es una torre
    grande como la de Babel

    que se levanta por encima
    de la altura de la de Eiffel.


    Bessemer furnaces and rail mills, representing the latest in steelmaking technology, began operating in 1875.

    “They were enormous steaming vessels, clanging and banging, spouting great plumes of smoke, and searing the sky with the Bessemer’s reddish orange glow. The narrow brick streets of the mill towns were filled with streetcars, automobiles, workers going to and from the plant, and shoppers carrying big brown paper bags. There were two or three saloons to a block on the main street near the mill, and almost as many churches scattered through each town.

    And, yes, noondays were often as dark as night—as awed visitors usually reported, when inversions trapped great clouds of smoke close to earth, and the downtown sidewalks were so thick with ferruginous dust from the open hearth and Bessemer furnaces, that they gave off a metallic sheen. Smoke seemed to seep out of the very pores of the mill buildings. Every morning housewives all over town put on babushkas and swept clouds of dust off their front porches.”
    John P. Hoerr

    2. Paisaje desde la bomba Cornill (sic) | Landscape from Cornill Pump

    Desde ”’lo alto”’ del depósito
    del agua de cementación,
    adonde se convierte en cobre
    el hierro y hasta el corazón,

    desde esta altura en que corre
    el agua como un torrente de berilo
    y en que se escuchan estos sútoles (sic)
    en medio de un solemne sigilo,

    se ven ”’los ríos azules”’ que se pierden
    entre la gris pirita,
    el monte de óxido de hierro Moguer
    y la hilera de vagonetas que pita. ovejas

    Oh el agudo chillido de los rails
    y de las ruedas sin aceite…
    Es un ruido que es un dolor físico,
    mezcla de angustia y de deleite.

    La torre de ladrillos, cuadrilonga,
    de los hornos; afirmación moderna
    con el airón guerrero de plumaje
    color de ópalo… Y la galerna

    que ruge dentro del taller oscuro…
    y el circo de la corta… Lucha cruenta
    del hombre con la piedra fuerte…
    !y una agonía lenta!

    1936 – A Civil War as a Car Crash

    22 Jun

    Alfonso Ponce de León (1906-1936) was a Falangist artist (design of Sindicato Español Universitario, SEU with the swan and chess table). his approach was very close to the New Objectivity (in German, Neue Sachlichkeit).

    He was part of the “corte de los poetas” (Court of the Poets) that give birth to Falange Española -a very similar Fascist movement in Spain, but catholic, non antisemitic and with a engage with Tradition. Iys leader was José Antonuio primo de Rivera:

    This self-portrait is called “Accident” and we can see the artist after a car crash with his Hispano-Suiza on a “cuneta” (road ditch). It was exposed in Madrid at Exposición Nacional (Spring 1936). Some weeks later explode Spanish Civil War and Ponce de León was tortured and killed in a “cuneta” (like many others) near Madrid by leftish “chekistas”:

    Interpretation of the picture.
    Fracoism: country, religion, family

    1936 – The Anarchist Utopia

    21 Jun

    Antonio Sau: Aurora de esperanza (Hope Sunrise, 1936)

    “Aurora” (Sunrise) is the same word using by the Falangists.

    This film remember me Murnau film in USA: Sunrise (Amanecer) 1928 – A young farmer falls in love with a tempting woman from the city, who persuades him to try and kill his wife, so they can be together. What will happen when the man has a vision of what the city is really like..?

    Winner of the 1929 ‘Best Picture’ Oscar for ‘Unique and Artistic’ Production, and ‘Best Actress’ for Janet Gaynor.

    1950 – The Fall of the Falangist Utopia

    20 Jun

    Edgard Neville: El último caballo (1950)

    FFG: Now we are going to offer a toast for the old world. JLO: And what is that ? FFG: The world in which a poor man could have a horse and could give him to eat without great difficulties. The world in which it was possible to be lived calmly without killing itself working. The world in which everything was smooth and easy, when there was SO-LI-DA-RI-TY between men. And when everything what it moved had hot blood. JLO: Viva, we are going to drink by the hot blood. Cm: What do you mean with that of the hot blood? FFG: I mean when there was not so much no motor and to as much machine and as much iron and as much gasoline and as much smoke and so much… nastiness. When people were not in a as much hurry and lived with more calmness. When hours to the day exceeded to take a walk in a horse, or a car thrown by horses. When it did not have that sullen gesture that today is observed everywhere because to people it always needs the leftover peseta with which bought the joy. When everything was worth pennies. Ten, ten pennies. JLO: Now more gains. FFG: Yes, today more gains. But today, it must only to live and to eat, and that… that is little. Cm: Sure, and so little. FFG: In addition, no, it is not only about to eat. JLG: Naturally. We are going to offer by the drink. FFG: No, no, I no longer drink more. Cm: Eso, eso. They had to prohibit wine. FFG: It is a poison, a poison. Cm: We are going to drink by the Prohibition? [They toast by the Prohibition] FFG: And the guilty of all of this is modern life with its haste and their ordinarieces. DOWN WITH THE TRUCKS! DOWN WITH CARS (AUTOMOBILES)! DOWN WITH THE MODERN LIFE! IT IS NECESSARY TO END THE MODERN LIFE! JLO: [Going out] Already we are fed up with this time of gasoline and trucks and are going to finish with it.