Homage to Franco!!! is more bitterly satirical than the other two drawings by André Fougeron owned by Tate, The Four Horsemen and The Tournament (T07707, T07708). As the title makes clear, its subject is the Falangist leader in the Spanish Civil War, General Francisco Franco (1892-1975). An arch of bones forms a gateway for a horse and rider to trample over a pregnant woman and child surrounded by pigs. The victorious horseman, with blackened wings and a pyramidal hat which covers his head, is grotesque. In this satirical image of victory, the destructiveness of the Falangists makes their successes hollow. Fougeron's inscription places the drawing in November 1937, shortly after Franco strengthened his grip on northern Spain by seizing the Republican government's stronghold of Gijon.

As an active Communist and an associate of the party's Maison de la Culture in Paris, Fougeron was particularly concerned with opposing fascism through his art. From the mid-1930s he was committed to the International Communist Party's Socialist Realism, although this was initially interpreted quite liberally. The conjunction of drawing and satire in Homage to Franco!!! may suggest that Fougeron had some publication in mind for its wider dissemination. Certainly the savagery of his satire recalls the etching begun in January 1937 by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) entitled The Dream and Lie of Franco. This was similarly aimed at Franco himself and imagined him as a ridiculous porcine horseman. While Fougeron acknowledged his debt to Picasso, and especially to Guernica (1937, Museo de Reina Sofía), the bones of Homage to Franco!!! are also reminiscent of the distended limbs included by Salvador Dalí (1904-89) in Soft Construction with Boiled Beans, 1936 (Philadelphia Museum of Art), an image which had been reproduced in the periodical Minotaure in October 1936 as Spain: Premonition of Civil War.

Further reading:
André Fougeron, 'André Fougeron se souvient …', in Paris-Paris, exhibition catalogue, Musée national d'art moderne, Centre George Pompidou, Paris 1981, pp.50-1, reproduced p.46

Matthew Gale
August 2001