The 1937 World's Fair

The 1937 World's Fair

  • Spanish Pavilion, Paris, 1937. Panel on the Guernica massacre

    KOLLAR François (1904 - 1979)

  • Exhibition: panel on Spanish agriculture

    KOLLAR François (1904 - 1979)

  • Spanish Pavilion, Entrance staircase to the exhibition

    KOLLAR François (1904 - 1979)

To close

Title: Spanish Pavilion, Paris, 1937. Panel on the Guernica massacre

Author : KOLLAR François (1904 - 1979)

Storage location: Architecture and heritage multimedia library website

Contact copyright: Ministry of Culture - Multimedia library of architecture and heritage, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / François Kollar (C) RMN - Copyright management François Kollar

Picture reference: 17-638834 / 71L13586

Spanish Pavilion, Paris, 1937. Panel on the Guernica massacre

© Ministry of Culture - Multimedia library for architecture and heritage, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / François Kollar (C) RMN - Copyright management François Kollar

To close

Title: Exhibition: panel on Spanish agriculture

Author : KOLLAR François (1904 - 1979)

Dimensions: Height 18 cm - Width 24 cm

Storage location: Architecture and heritage multimedia library website

Contact copyright: Ministry of Culture - Multimedia library of architecture and heritage, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / François Kollar (C) RMN - Copyright management François Kollar

Picture reference: 17-552656 / 71L13558

Exhibition: panel on Spanish agriculture

© Ministry of Culture - Multimedia library for architecture and heritage, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / François Kollar (C) RMN - Copyright management François Kollar

To close

Title: Spanish Pavilion, Entrance staircase to the exhibition

Author : KOLLAR François (1904 - 1979)

Dimensions: Height 24 cm - Width 18 cm

Storage location: Architecture and heritage multimedia library website

Contact copyright: Ministry of Culture - Multimedia library of architecture and heritage, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / François Kollar (C) RMN - Copyright management François Kollar

Picture reference: 18-503592 / 71L13582

Spanish Pavilion, Entrance staircase to the exhibition

© Ministry of Culture - Multimedia library for architecture and heritage, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / François Kollar (C) RMN - Copyright management François Kollar

Publication date: January 2019

Historical context

Miró and the Spanish pavilion at the 1937 World's Fair

From May 25 to November 25, 1937, the "International Exhibition of Arts and Techniques Applied to Modern Life" was held in Paris. Alongside these masterful works, the pavilion designed by Luis Lacasa and Josep Lluís Sert also contains sculptures, engravings, drawings and films, as well as numerous expressive but more simply educational installations, such as the Sign on the Guernica massacre and the Spanish agriculture sign or a set of several quotes adorning the walls, among which Entrance staircase to the exhibition.

Image Analysis

In the land of Don Quixote

Panel on the Guernica Massacre, Entrance staircase to the exhibition and Spanish agriculture sign were all taken in 1937 by François Kollar (1904-1979). The French photographer of Hungarian and Czech origin has indeed taken a series of photos on the Spanish pavilion for the written press.

Entrance staircase to the exhibition shows a quote from Don Quixote (II, 58) "We have to expose our life for our freedom Which appears in golden capital letters glued to the white wall bordering the staircase through which the visitor enters the pavilion. Here invisible, another quote from Don Quixote (I, 31) "There is no villain who keeps his word if he sees fit to keep it"Faces him on the other side of the same staircase, perpendicular to the Reaper de Miró which occupies the third wall (opposite the staircase going down).

Set of inscriptions and photographs, Sign on the Guernica massacre constitutes a rather disparate set devoted to the bombardment of the Basque city which took place on April 26, 1937. On the left, an image representing a young child victim of the fighting is accompanied by a text (partially cut here) evoking the pain of his parents and the injustice of his death. In the center, a photograph of "the tree of Guernica, symbol of the democracy of the Basque people »(Inscription on the photograph itself). On the right, a quote from José Antonio Aguirre, president of the autonomous government of the Basque Country since October 7, 1936 “Is it a crime for a people to defend its freedom? "Overcomes a photograph showing the ruins of the city, a photograph under which we read a last sentence:"They destroyed our people and our language ».

Equally composite, Spanish agriculture sign features a photograph (left) of a peasant working bare-handed in the wheat fields and (right) a drawn illustration of another, perched on some sort of horse-drawn plow. Again, a text is printed on the image itself, which explains that "Spanish agriculture was based on:" (up) "miserable wages"(On the left follows a more complete description of the working conditions) and"an unfair distribution of the earth ". A distribution illustrated by the rather childish drawing of figures quantifying the proportion of the population (1%, 11%, 21%, 27%, 40%), compared to that of the land owned (from 43.7% to "Nothing at all »).

Interpretation

An emblem of republican Spain

Like other nations participating in the event, the government of Republican Spain envisions its pavilion at the Expo as a way to promote a certain "identity." Through the various achievements on display, the aim is to show the world a sort of updated emblem of the country while calling out to the public on its immediate situation presented as tragic and unjust. And to convince, perhaps, to espouse his cause in one way or another.

The Spanish pavilion is characterized first of all by its daring and modernity. Simple, functional and ultimately quite modest, the architecture of the glass building consists of three floors connected by stairs and side ramps (which can be seen on Entrance staircase to the exhibition) shows great architectural originality. Likewise, the choice of avant-garde artists like Picasso, Buñuel or does Miró correspond to the desire to stand out positively by a certain cultural and intellectual influence.

Country of the most creative arts and innovation, Republican Spain would also (and corollarily) be a place of technical, social and political progress, as suggested more modestly by Spanish agriculture sign. By abolishing practices that are at once archaic, iniquitous and unworthy, the new regime would put its people on the road to justice and prosperity.

But the Republic is also the "democracy "And"freedom "On which the nationalists and their fascist allies ("They ") Pose a deadly threat, as the Sign on the Guernica massacre. A democracy that is open and respectful of regional identities (reference to "people "And"language "Basque), unlike the nationalists who want to eradicate and eradicate the latter.

Borrowing from literature (this time choosing the more classic and consensual reference of Don Quixote visible on Entrance staircase to the exhibition), the quote that marks the start of the visit echoes the news, which places the urgent struggle of those who "put their lives on the line" to defend freedom and the Republic into an older and more universal legacy. Faithful to these inalienable values, the anti-fascist fighters (current or future) must thus wage a fair battle against those who “destroy” or kill.

  • Paris
  • Universal Exhibition of 1937
  • Franco (general)
  • Spain
  • Guernica
  • Picasso (Pablo)
  • war in spain
  • Calder (Alexander)

Bibliography

DUPIN, Jacques, Joan Miró, Paris, Flammarion, coll. "Large monographs", 1993.

International exhibition. Paris, 1937: Arts and techniques in modern life. The Official Guide, May-November, Paris, Editions of the Society for the Development of Tourism, 1937.

MIRO, Joan, Writings and interviews, Paris, Daniel Lelong, 1995.

HERMET, Guy, The war in Spain, Paris, Seuil, “Points histoire”, 2017.

VILAR, Pierre, History of Spain, Paris, PUF, 1996.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "The Universal Exhibition of 1937"


Video: Paris 1937: Worlds Fair - Expo Mondiale - Weltausstellung - Versailles