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Title: Re-imagining the nation : Josep Renau and the politics of culture in Republican Spain, 1931-1919
Author: Bjerstrom, Carl-Henrik
ISNI:       0000 0004 5218 5780
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis analyses the political and artistic development of the Valencian painter, editor, and montage artist Josep Renau (1907-1982) during the years of the Spanish Second Republic (1931-1939). Renau was a pioneering representative of a politically progressive vanguard in 1930s Spain, and his multifaceted work offers a valuable insight into contemporary perceptions concerning the theoretical as well as practical intersections of politics and art. Investigating these intersections, the thesis argues that artistic and political activities were equally formative aspects of Renau's progressive project, which sought to configure a cultural vision for a modern Spain. This project was clearly informed by Renau's affiliation with the Spanish Communist Party and the particular threat posed at the time by fascism. But his project was also strongly coloured by conceptions associated with the artistic avant-garde, conceptions which led Renau to emphasise the importance of radical cultural renewal as a pivotal ambition of antifascist politics. The second part of the thesis explores how the civil war opened up new cultural possibilities which might potentially have favoured further practical elaboration of Renau's vision had not the critical military situation facing the Republic also exacerbated its internal tensions. As the social and political revolution triggered by the conflict raised the stakes of cultural politics too, Republican cultural producers had to balance increasingly urgent artistic and political demands. Renau, who occupied the post of General Director of Fine Arts from September 1936 to April 1938 and was thus a prominent figure in the cultural mobilisation process, indicated how such demands could be reconciled. More problematic, however, were the ambivalent attitudes displayed by both artistic and political vanguards towards the grass-roots revolutionary situation allowing unprecedented power to the 'people'. In this regard, Republican cultural strategies would echo the radical principles advocated by Renau while reducing their democratising potential.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available