Red City, Blue Period: Social Movements in Picasso's Barcelona
In Red City, Blue Period, Temma Kaplan captures the social and cultural richness of Barcelona, a city famous for its resistance to repression and its love of art. Known both as the city of bombs and the Paris of the south, Barcelona between 1888 and 1939 was home to flower vendors and seamstresses, bakers and metal workers, nuns and prostitutes, all of whom joined the ranks of protestors at one time or another. The cultural realm was a contested area, as worshipers of numerous patron saints and Madonnas shared the streets with terrorists and with those, like the young Pablo Picasso, who simply loved the parade floats and raucous folk figures that accompanied religious festivals. Moving from seedy cafes, where political activists mingled with artists and police agents, to brothels, where prostitutes earned a living, to puppet theaters, where adults became acclimated to life in the Catalan city, Kaplan reveals how citizens came to understand populist politics and how they created a new culture based on particular visions of the past and goals for the future. Analyzing the peculiar sense of solidarity the citizens of Barcelona forged during this period, she explains why shared experiences of civic culture and pageantry could sometimes galvanize resistance to authoritarian national governments but could not always overcome local struggles based on class and gender. Combining the methods of anthropology and the new cultural history, Red City, Blue Period evokes a city of intrigue and violence, but also one of political commitment, bawdy humor, and extraordinary beauty.
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