The social, economic and cultural rupture caused by the Civil War, which continued in the form of the regime's isolation, was reflected in the apathy of the city, which was only to be expected. A certain vitality re-emerged at the end of the fifties, when the economy benefited from a tentative opening out to the exterior world and society began to recover the pulse of everyday life. This period coincided with one of extraordinary demographic growth in Barcelona, with immigration from other regions of Catalonia and from the rest of the State, attracted by an active, industrial city that offered new prospects. Between 1957 and 1973, when Josep Maria Porcioles was mayor of Barcelona, the city's population figures jumped from 1,500,000 to 1,800,000.
Porcioles was faced with the need to house these 300,000 new citizens. As a result, construction became one of the main issues in his policy. During the first four years of his term of office, 16 partial urban plans accounting for a total of 1,600 hectares were approved, followed by 13 more, covering 1,341 hectares, over the next eight years. "Streets were developed only after buildings had been erected, and the budgets for education, parks, culture and sport were cut down to the minimum. The accumulation of deficits went hand-in-hand with a drop in the quality of life" wrote journalist Josep Maria Huertas Claveria.
Although Porcioles's influence in Madrid was crucial for the creation of the Museu Picasso or the return of the Castle of Montjuïc to the city, the lack of uniformity and coherence in political and budgetary criteria, a common phenomenon during the time of Franco, was further reflected in a policy of sculptural works guided by ambiguity of aesthetic and thematic criteria. During the sixteen years when Porcioles was mayor, one hundred or so sculptures were placed on Barcelona's thoroughfares, over half of which were pieces commemorating personalities or memorable events. And initiatives of this kind on the part of private entities were encouraged.
Eusebi Arnau, 1934 (1952)
The divorce between official culture and the creative culture of the moment became increasingly clear as the years of the dictatorship unfolded. After the immediate post-war period of open resistance had passed, the legendary journal Dau al Set appeared, published by the group of the same name, whose members were painters Joan Josep Tharrats, Antoni Tàpies, Modest Cuixart and Joan Ponç, the writer Joan Brossa and the philosopher Arnau Puig. Of a very different character was the review Ariel, informed by more classical principles, which attempted to establish links with the intellectual, artistic tradition prior to the Civil War.
Tàpies and the experience of the international exhibition at the Sala Gaspar, Otro arte (1957), marked the following generation of painters (Guinovart, Hernámdez Pijuan, Ràfols-Casamada), whose Informalism reflected disquiet, experimentation and constructive-destructive action. The exhibition showed works by Dubuffet, De Kooning, Pollock, Jenkins, Saura and Tàpies himself.
Outstanding in the architectural field during the fifties was the Grup R, members of which included Oriol Bohigas, Antoni de Moragas and Josep A. Coderch, who advocated a utilitarian architecture adapted to the historical situation at a time of clear urban and social needs. Early in the sixties, a period of artistic effervescence, the FAD (Foment de les Arts Decoratives), Elisava and Eina schools were founded together with the design section of the Massana School, and there was a boom first in industrial and later in graphic design.
However, very little of the artistic vitality of the new trends was transferred to the city's public sculptural landscape, as we shall see.
Commemorative, Religious and Privately Commissioned Sculpture
The commemorative sculptures of the Porcioles mandate followed the tradition begun in the forties of building Franquista monuments. For example, Porcioles commissioned the construction of the monument to Franco that was exhibited at the Castle of Montjuïc, the work of Josep Viladomat, which the sculptor refused to sign. Alongside commemorative monuments to Franquismo or like-minded ideologies, such as the one dedicated to José Antonio Primo de Rivera or the monument Als caiguts (To the Fallen) by Josep Clarà, on Avinguda Diagonal, others were built of a religious nature. Thus, in 1960, and taking advantage of the favourable political relations with Latin America, the City Council commissioned Viladomat to execute a bust of General San Martín, a pioneer of South-American independence, dedicated to the argentine Republic and standing on the avenue of the same name.
Religious monuments were also very abundant during the sixties: the statue dedicated to Sant Francesc d'Assís by Pere Jou, the monolith in memory of Papa Pius XII by Julià Riu Serra, the monument to the founder of the Discalced Missionary Carmelites, the Archangel Saint Raphael in memory of Father Benet Menni Figini by Domènech Fita, and the statue in memory of Pare Mayanet.
Private commissions took the form of the sculpture dedicated to childhood at the zoo (commissioned by Nestlé from Elisa Reverter) and the one in homage to the gypsy bailaora Carmen Amaya at the Montjuïc funfair, which the owners of the park commissioned from Josep Cañas, who was also responsible for the nearby La sardana and a monument to Doctor Ferran.
The lack of unified criteria is revealed in the variety of monuments from that time. Thus on Montjuïc we also find monuments in memory of the gymnast Joaquim Blume, of the clown Charlie Rivel, of the actor Charlot (Charles Chaplin) and three monuments dedicated to the Catalan poet and writer Joan Maragall. Furthermore, sculptures from before the Franco era were retrieved such as Eusebi Arnau's Narcís Oller in Plaça de Narcís Oller and Ramon Berenguer III el Gran, by Josep Llimona, in Plaça de Berenguer el Gran.
Sculpture in Gardens and Streets
In 1961, the Barcelona City Council, together with the Parks and Gardens Department, convened a public competition to choose ten pieces for the city's public gardens. The works selected were by sculptors Jacint Bustos Vasallo, Camil Fàbregas, Joaquim Ros Bofarull, Claudi Tarragó, Gabriel Alabert, Martí Llauradó, Antonio Ramon González, Josep Viladomat, M. Silvestre de Edeta and Eulàlia Cerdán.
From the same period are the sculpture dedicated to the Cos de bombers by Sebastià Badia, which stands at the corner of Carrer Provença and Carrer Villarroel; the monolith in memory of the artists and artisans who made the construction of the Poble Espanyol possible; the piece Meditació by Robert Chaveau Vasconcel, a homage to the creators of the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition.
Josep Granyer, 1972
Other sculptures from this period include Coqueta and Medi-tació by Josep Granyer, which stand at both ends of Rambla de Catalunya; Joventut by J. Manuel Benedicto, in Plaça de Francesc Macià; Ignasi Iglesias by Ferran Bach, in Plaça de les Palmeres, Sant Andreu; Matrimoni by Josep Ricart, on the Pont del Treball; and A Walt Disney - bambis saltant by Núria Tortras, in the Parc de la Ciutadella.
Outstanding during this period was the work of Frederic Marès, who had contributed to the 1929 Exhibition with an allegorical group in Plaça de Catalunya and in 1936 executed the sculpture in homage to the politician and labour lawyer Francesc Layret. Restorer of the royal tombs at Poblet, Marès's works from that time - notably Timbaler del Bruc and La Victòria, which replaced Viladomat's La República at the corner of Avinguda Diagonal and Passeig de Gràcia - were accompanied by fruitful academic activity and the foundation in 1946 of the Museu Marès, based on his own private collections.
The New Trends
The new non-figurative trends did not appear in the city until the sixties. The end of the fifties saw the first attempts at abstraction, which marked a break away from the entire artistic output during the Franco regime. The two first abstract sculptures placed on the streets of Barcelona were by Josep M. Subirachs. The first, from 1957, entitled Forma 212, at Llars Mundet. Subirachs having paved the way, others followed in his footsteps. In 1961, Eudald Serra built his Monument al treball and Salvador Aulèstia placed his long mural Sideroploide on Passeig de l'Escullera. Other pieces from this period are by Andreu Alfaro and Ángel Ferrant.
Special mention must be made at this point of the Fundació Joan Miró whose building, by Miró's friend the architect Josep Lluís Sert, accommodates a major sample of contemporary sculpture and welcomes the visitor with Quatre ales, beside the entrance, the work of another of Miró's friends, Alexander Calder.