Print / View Finding Aid as Single Page

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives logo

Guide to the Spanish Civil War Poster Collection ALBA.GRAPHICS.001

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630
tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Johanna Blocker, 2006, and Erika Gottfried, Gail Malmgreen and Sarah DeMott

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on January 29, 2018
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Updated by Megan O'Shea to incorporate artwork being sent to offsite art storage in September 2017.  , August 2017

Historical/Biographical Note

Political posters' essential role in propaganda and sustaining morale of both combatants and civilians during the Spain’s Civil War of 1936-1939 has been well-documented in numerous books, exhibitions and catalogs. They were published by organizations representing both sides of the conflict, but best known, and most numerous, were those produced by the government of the Spanish Republic and its allies. These posters, published by political parties, labor unions and federations, and other entities, reflect deep divisions between the Republic's supporters -- ranging from the Socialist, Communist and Anarchist parties, to smaller splinter groups, collectives, aid organizations, youth groups, and regional militias.

Their striking graphic qualities and propaganda value, which observers noted during the War and have attracted art historians and collectors ever since, served very practical ends. Posters were aimed at, and competed for the attention of, viewers who were often literally under fire. The large numbers of posters that were produced (an estimated 1,500-2,000 posters appeared, many printed in editions of 3,000 to 5,000, in the brief period 1936-1939) made them “an essential part of the visual landscape” of the war, as one scholar has observed. Posters were also used to garner support for the Republic, and for the International Brigades of volunteers that came to its defense, in other countries around the world.

In the years after the War’s end, posters continued to be used to publicize history of the Republic and its legacies. Posters protested the authoritarian rule of General Franco (whose rebel forces had defeated the Republic), memorialized the War and the Republic, advocated for refugees and veterans, and eventually celebrated the return of a democratically-elected government to Spain after Franco’s death in 1975.

Sources:

  • La guerra civil en 2000 carteles: república-guerra civil-posguerra, compiled by Jordi Carulla and Arnau Carulla. [Alternate title:  Guerra civil en dos mil cartels] Barcelona: Postermil, 1997.
  • The visual front: posters of the Spanish Civil War from UCSD’s Southworth Collection. (http://orpheus.ucsd.edu/speccoll/visfront/vizindex.html)