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Summer Reading on Spanish Surrealists


Books Make for Better Traveling in Spain

Books Make for Better Traveling in Spain

When the Scoopettes travel, we read about where we’re going. We read blogs, guide books, magazines and anything we can get a hold of. We also read books! Yes, books! Remember those? Reading about the Civil War, a famous Spanish politician (Franco?) or one of Spain’s many internationally-known artists is an excellent way to become more familiar with the culture. You can see a few of the Scoopettes’ book picks here, and a few more selected by Books4Spain owner Rod Younger below. Happy reading.

By Rod Younger

Spain has a long list of great “classic” artists such as Velazquez, El Greco, Murillo, Zurburan and Goya.  At the same time, the 1920s saw the emergence of surrealism from artists mainly based in Paris but with arguably Spaniards such as Picasso and Dali being the most important and influential. In film, Luis Buñuel emerged as one of the most startling and controversial directors of world cinema while Federico Garcia Lorca was another exciting talent linked closely with the Spanish surrealist movement.

Interested in learning more about these greats? Below is a selection of biographies and studies available from Books4Spain.


A Life of Picasso (Volume 1) by John Richardson

From 1950 to 1962, John Richardson lived near Picasso in France and was a friend of the artist. With a view to writing a biography, the acclaimed art historian kept a diary of their meetings. After Picasso’s death, his widow Jacqueline collaborated in the preparation of this work, giving Richardson access to Picasso’s studio and papers. Volume one of this extraordinary biography establishes the complexity of Picasso’s Spanish roots; his aversion to his native Málaga; and, his passion for Barcelona and Catalan ‘modernisme’. Richardson introduces new material on the artist’s early training in religious art; re-examines old legends to provide fresh insights into the artistic failures of Picasso’s father as an impetus to his sons’ triumphs; and, includes portraits of Apollinaire, Max Jacob and Gertrude Stein, who made up ‘The Picasso Gang’ in Paris during the ‘Blue’ and ‘Rose’ periods.

A Life of Picasso

A Life of Picasso


Dalí by Robert Radford

One of the best-known and most visually influential artists of the 20th century, Salvador Dalí achieved fame on an international scale as both painter and celebrity. Bridging the gap between high art and popular culture, he created in his Surrealist works imagery that moved freely into the Freudian world of the sub-conscious – and which has subsequently been widely adopted by media and advertising. Robert Radford traces Dali’s career from the Spanish town of Figueras to membership of the Surrealist Circle in Paris, then on to New York and Hollywood – with the Spanish Civil War and World War II exploding in the background.

Lorca-A Dream of Life by Leslie Stainton

There have been numerous books written about the life and works of Federico Garcia Lorca and almost as many concerning his murder; a shameful death that symbolized the savagery of the Spanish Civil War.  Lorca ‘s birth in 1898 coincided with Spain’s defeat in the Spanish-American war and he is considered one of the seminal figures of twentieth-century literature but does this book tell us anything different to the many others that have been published since his death in 1936?  The answer is yes, because Lorca – A Dream of Life, by Leslie Stainton has a fresh take on this much debated character and she spent fourteen years researching. The title of the book is taken from one of Lorca’s unfinished plays; The Dream of Life.  Drawing on hundreds of recently discovered letters, notes and other archival material as well as interviewing numerous members of his family and close associates, Stainton illustrates intimate aspects of the poet’s relatively short existence.

The Discreet Art of Luis Buñuel- A Reading of His Films by Gwynne Edwards

Luis Buñuel was one of the most fascinating and controversial directors of world cinema. A highly literate and intellectual director, his early sympathies with the Paris Surrealists and his enthusiasm for the works of Freud and other modern revolutionaries, led him to explore the darker side of bourgeois life. This study closely examines his major films from the brilliant and scandalous Un Chien Andalou through The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and That Obscure Object of Desire.

Books 4 Spain has many other titles on Spanish artists, poets, writers and more. Check out the website here:

Photo Credit, A Life of Picasso, Books4Spain


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