TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT November 1989

CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE: EQUIPO CRÓNICA

THE INITIAL REACTION first-time viewers often have to the work of the artistic team known as Equipo Crónica is one of barely concealed amazement. For, on the one hand, it is remarkable to view such an uncompromising and sophisticated visual commentary on art and the role of the artist issuing from the supposed cultural wasteland of late-Franco Spain. On the other hand, it is even more surprising to learn that a quarter century after its formation, Equipo Crónica has yet to receive any official recognition beyond Europe. In fact, the entire saga of Equipo Crónica’s career may eventually be seen as a case study of how one country may have gone too far in cleaning up its culture for the sake of international consumption.

In some ways Equipo Crónica is no less a thorn in the side of official Spanish culture today than it was when it was practicing. Spain has been in its post-dictatorship period for 14 years, but those outside the country still tend to use Franco (as in “during . . .” and “after . . .”) as their standard reference for all cultural transformations within the Iberian peninsula. Some have made the case that the Spanish are not yet really free of Franco, and must invent ways to confront the symbol of their past oppression before being able to produce great art once again. Yet credible as this theory initially sounds, it is predicated on a knowledge of Spanish art that skips straight from Antoni Tàpies to Susana Solano; the missing link—the work of Equipo Crónica—changes the picture radically.

It is the work of this team—the name means, literally, “chronicle team,” or team of correspondents—that represents the most significant bond between the work of the first antifascist generation of Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso, that of the expatriate generation of Eduardo Arroyo (Equipo Crónica’s most important peer), and that of the mostly Catalan-born generation of conceptual/ political artists—Eugenia Balcells, Antoni Miraldi, Muntadas, and Francesc Torres—who emigrated to make their base either in Paris or New York. Thus an examination of Equipo Crónica’s program offers exemplary insight into a remarkably situated regional expression of cultural critique. Equally important, the case of Equipo Crónica can be used to cast light on the entire phenomenon of European-based Pop art.

The regional picture, then, first: Manuel Valdés and Rafael Solbés were born in 1942 and 1943 respectively, in Valencia, and were both students at the fine-arts academy there. Following their participation in a group show in 1964, the two artists joined forces with several others to establish the Valencia branch of Estampa Popular (People’s prints), an underground graphics movement already active in a number of other cities in Spain,’ and organized an exhibition entitled “Emigration and Tourism” (an ironic reference to the choices facing the workforce in the ’60s, after, in Franco’s words, “a quarter century of peace”). Opening on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the end of Spain’s Civil War, the show as a whole apparently articulated a more powerful statement than the discrete contributions of any single artist, a point that inspired Solbés, Valdés, and Joan Antoni Toledo to drop their personal signatures and begin to work under the collective identity of Equipo Crónica. (Toledo withdrew a year later to resume art-making under his own name.)

Certainly, artistic collaboration is nothing new in art, but the peculiar concentration of collaborative art-teams in Spain reflects a savvy response to the limitations imposed on cultural practitioners there. Although Franco eventually came to understand the pragmatic value in having the world believe that Spain’s artists toiled on unmolested, the truth of the matter was that the state was often extremely brutal in response to any actual—or perceived—rumblings of dissidence. Yet despite the fact that Spanish artists have, historically speaking, tended to put their social consciences to good use, they were perceived as slightly less likely to be engaged in subversive activities than others; their groups were therefore somewhat less closely scrutinized. Into all this cloak-and-dagger strategizing enters the simple fact that Spain in the late 1960s was not a place where one could expect to make avant-garde art without risking professional indifference and ostracization. Patrons and critics were few and far between, and official support for the arts was basically nonexistent. Ultimately, the two explanations being considered—the desire for political strength and the need for artistic camaraderie-come up as two sides of the same coin; the (relative) safety in numbers offered itself as a (provisional) solution to the two related problems.’ Yet even seen within this context, Valdés’ and Solbés’ choice of an artistic alter ego, one that operated almost as a brand name, was an abrupt departure from the local norm, to the extent that it extolled a form of anonymity that was undeniably Pop.

Although it has hardly been given the same attention as that of Barcelona or Madrid, Valencia’s art scene from the ’60s on has emerged as a feisty one by any standard, with a tradition relentlessly engaged in hard-edge figurative and abstract painting, and infused with many of the populist concerns of early Modernist art.’ Its primary folk tradition is that of the fallas. These huge, ornate wood-and-wax statues—often effigies of politicians or celebrities—are fashioned over a year-long period by local artisans, only to be ceremoniously torched during the feast of San José in March. The destruction of these fallas all in one night, amid a whirlwind of singing and dancing, reflects the characteristically Spanish fatalism that sees in all things worldly their transitory nature. The humor, technical facility, and lightness of touch that bring the fallas into existence are, however, particularly Valencian in nature.

It’s not a great leap from the celebratory satire of the fallas tradition to the brash topical parody of Pop. Not surprisingly, then, it appears that the first Spanish artists to take an interest in Pop-styled figuration, ca. 1964, were young Valencians,4 and that by 1970, the Pop sensibility was manifesting itself in a range of work, from the almost sugar-sweet homages to consumer society practiced by Crónica spinoff Equipo Realidad, to the far harsher techno fascist depictions of man and technology practiced by Anzo (José Iranzo).

What distinguished Equipo Crónica’s work from these others at the outset, however, was its close allegiance with the aims and strategies of the previously mentioned Estampa Popular. By the time Solbés and Valdès had initiated the formation of the Valencian chapter, this underground movement—dedicated to involving artists in the production and distribution of low-cost graphics as a step toward political change within society—had already spawned a range of work depicting poverty, American weapons, angry crowds, and fat capitalists. In its ranks, young artists of the period not only honed their skills with images-finding inspiration in Mexican revolutionary etchings and the prints of German Expressionists—but also transformed the wood or linoleum print into a viable medium for those previously inclined to dismiss it as secondary. Solbès' and Valdés' branch quickly developed a penchant for imagery depicting the inhumaneness of modern urban society, and a provocational stance against traditional morality (a stance that continues to thrive today in the form of Spain's bustling underground comic scene—its heart, of course, in Valencia.)5

It is within this context that Equipo Crónica’s place within the larger spectrum of European Pop can also begin to be assessed. The American art establishment has tended to treat Pop art as a home-grown exclusive, and certainly the field of European Pop yields its share of “derivative” artists. Yet the passage of time permits a more accurate appraisal and appreciation of the European manifestations of the Pop sensibility, just as it sheds a new light on maverick Pop artists (Peter Saul being the best example) from the U.S. On the eve of an already panic-stricken decade, previously underrated contributions—the scathing wit of the Swedish artist Oyvind Fahlström's dialectical inventions and the chilling lack of sentiment in Arroyo's depictions of the soul's darker side—are taking on a heightened sense of urgency. The expanded definition of what Pop art will mean to us in years to come may well affirm the strength of the early work of the English Pop artists—Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton, Allen Jones, and Eduardo Paolozzi—in what was previously characterized as its limitation: its resolutely compassionate depiction of the human animal as frightened, confused, and very much alone. In Italian Pop—Alighiero e Boetti's autocritical maps of the world, Pino Pascali's sinister toylike machines (or machinelike toys), and Mimmo Rotella's gritty, verité collages of torn poster fragments—and in the particularly Dadaesque inflection of the school of Paris, we are beginning to see the influence on much art to follow. Finally, in the work of Equipo Crónica, we find a team who might serve the rest of the world as symbols of Spanish art on the universal level of Tàpies or Arroyo.

It's true that Equipo Crónica’s earliest paintings, from 1965 and early 1966, with their stark repeated images and variations on stock photographs and cartoons, and their somewhat didactic depictions of war, violence, and the capitalist/military state, are not highly original. Perhaps, like many Spanish artists of the time, Solbés and Valdés chose their “target”—American imperialism—as a foil, a way of sidestepping specifically Spanish issues, and thereby jail. The juxtaposition of Mickey Mouse and Hiroshima, for example, in ¡América! ¡América!, 1965, seems to be well-trodden ground by the time they get around to it. By late 1966, however, with a series of black and white canvases featuring distorted photographic images of Spanish folklore, popular culture, and aristocracy, the team begins tackling the problem of how their country can interpret/manipulate its own self-depiction. And this is where the fun, and the brilliance, begin. Appearing at the precise moment when the state was frantically boosting its image abroad for the sake of tourism, Equipo Crónica’s simulated travel poster Latin lover, 1966 (its first painting to be rendered in its “paint-by-numbers” technique), offers us, in its sexy male profile set against a tropical moonlit island, a needling commentary on the cliché of the tempestuous Spanish macho—who, needless to say, would have too much romance on his mind to think about politics.

Crónica’s first real series, “La Recuperación” (The recuperation, 1967–69), flips adeptly from isolated individuals and images to the larger picture. Here, we're confronted with the Spain of modern technology, yet populated by mythic figures from its artistic golden age. Well-known kings, cardinals, and countesses from famous paintings by Velàzquez, Zurbarán, and Goya appear as cartoons of themselves, strutting about industrial and corporate interiors as if in their new palaces. In Las estructuras cambian, las esencias permanecen (The structures change, the essences remain, 1968), for example, a nobleman familiar to us from El Greco sits impassively at a computer terminal, while a duchess from Goya stands nonchalantly poised in the middle of the room, peering over the top of a particularly impressive-looking piece of telecommunications apparatus. Although these paintings are, on one level, a thinly disguised warning about the perpetration of power by a ruling class, they are more remarkable for their inventive weaving of a fantasy scenario with one that was to become all too real. (In fact, over the past three years, high-tech investment in Spain has quadrupled.) Even more loaded, from the perspective of Crónica’s later work, is the way in which this blending of Spanish myth and history takes on diabolical overtones, as if these figures were propagandists resurrected from history to take hold of the peoples’ imaginations.

Given the power of myth-making, perhaps it isn’t entirely foolish to wonder whether Franco, had he known in 1937 of the chain of events that the bombing of Guernica would generate, might not have ordered his planes to turn around and head home. With Picasso’s 1937 Guernica assuming the status of one of the 20th century’s most famous paintings, perhaps it isn’t surprising that Equipo Crónica commemorated the year 1969 with a series based on it. But in this ironic homage, invaded by comic-book heroes and a rogue’s gallery of real-life bad guys, Picasso’s Guernica, that infinitely layered mediation on art’s helplessness in the face of power’s absolute expression, is stripped of its monumental character to serve as a kind of allegory for the confused circus of “passion and mortification” (to use Gaston Diehl’s immortal phrase) that Picasso’s own career had undoubtedly come to symbolize for younger Spanish artists. In the ultimate painting in the series, La visita (The visit, 1969), a small official delegation is about to enter the gallery where Guernica is hung (in Crónica’s testament, the work had already been returned to Spain) and where figurative fragments from the composition seem to be trying to pull free from the canvas. Some have actually become dislodged and lay scattered on the marble floor. It is an astounding painting. It demands our recognition that the struggles Picasso contended with in 1937 were just as alive, as threatening, in 1969. And we can derive only slight comfort from perceiving official politics as the agent of Guernica’s (and by implication the people’s) emasculation, for the most disturbing notion posited here is that the cryptlike vaults of the museum have swallowed the painting whole—and that Solbés and Valdés undoubtedly see this fate looming on their own horizon. The conflict that their role as political painters makes clear—and that is symbolized by the glimpse of open sky through a vaulted window—is that once the artist has embraced his or her medium, there can be no escape from the museum as prison, even mausoleum, the ultimate repository of all his or her energy, labor, and ambivalence.

This theme underscores much of Crónica’s work to follow, and indeed makes for the vitality of its work twenty years later. A surprising amount of art of this century finds its strength in the recognition that on practically every imaginable level, the roles of painter and political activist are in conflict with one another. Though Solbés and Valdés do not abandon all hope of any reconciliation between their ideals and their chosen profession, they do insist that blood—which serves as leitmotif of the following series, “Autopsia de un oficio” (Autopsy of a profession, 1969–70)—continues to flow precisely because artists persist in making art. El perro (The dog, 1970) cleverly packages this argument in the body of Spanish painting’s most ubiquitous accessory (and man’s best friend). Blown up to twenty times his natural size, so that he blocks out all the other actors in Velázquez’s Las Meninas (except the usher who stands poised at the back door, so to speak), Crónica’s hound also sports a funereal black armband bearing the red dagger/crucifix emblem that Velázquez himself received as a court honor, and that he wears in the original painting. In Crónica’s version, Solbés and Valdés themselves— standing in the foreground in bohemian half-garb-appear to have just been interrupted in their painting of the armband, indicating that the days of court painters are long gone. But is it their conviction that artists must now align themselves with the revolution, or the possibility that something is pricking their political conscience, that is suggested in the fact that the normally meticulous team have left behind them a vivid trail of red drips?

The series “Policia y Cultura” (Police and culture, 1971) shakes the art-history cobwebs off Crónica’s work. By this point, merging riot photographs and contemporary painting into a freewheeling montage of victim and victimizer, the team’s image-borrowing becomes almost encyclopedic. In ¡Este no se escapa! (This one can’t escape), riot police rough up a Jean Dubuffet personnage while one of Francis Bacon’s figures lies helpless in the street, and Karel Appel’s gaseous forms hover mournfully in the background. Solbés and Valdés aim their barbs deliberately at expressionist or primitivist artists—those who might be deemed most politically irresponsible by virtue of their emphasis on the expressions of the individual psyche. Yet their wit never deserts them as they transform these signature motifs of “pure” innovation from modern art into what a totalitarian state would deem “socially undesirable elements.”

And since this is in fact their first explicitly Pop series, the Valencian satirists do not spare either their American or their European forerunners. Pim, Pam, Pop takes the “real-life” agenda of Pop art to task as Chicago’s finest, their guns raised, trample Andy Warhol’s flowers, while a Roy Lichtenstein industrial landscape elegantly belches smoke into the background. Figures from Willem de Kooning and Tom Wesselmann can be picked out of the crowd, while forms straight out of Frank Stella, Jim Dine, Robert Indiana, and James Rosenquist decorate the weapons, uniforms, and shields. In the equally extraordinary La escalera (The stairs), a pair of lowly biomorphs from Yves Tanguy or Dali-looking beat, as if after a long day at the demonstrations—hobble their way home up a massive marble staircase that could be taken straight from the architecture of the Escorial. Part of the underlying sense of this series, perhaps, is that all styles are equally impotent against the state, and therefore equally complicit in its crimes:Estructura cerrada(Closed structure) juxtaposes an impassive line of police, arms folded or akimbo, with a multiplanar grid, adapted equally from Josef Albers, Piet Mondrian, and Victor Vasarely, that creates a “force field” around them. Again, it would be easy enough for Crónica to use appropriated forms flatly to condemn artists for their self-absorption, yet the team seems instead to underline the more profound point that all the artistic freedom in the world is only loaned to the artist by the state, and under conditions that are mutually understood.

The “Serie Negra” (Black series, 1972) steps confidently into the realm of mass media. In this Crónica update on film noir, gangster scenes from the American ’30s and ’40s are recontextualized through the deployment of sight gags about the artist: a still-warm corpse with color pencils littered about; a gunman standing over his victim and surrounded by preliminary sketches (of himself). As in the work of another Valencian, the photo montage artist Josep Renau, Crónica’s fascination/dread with the thinly veneered violence underlying American popular culture becomes the vehicle for examining certain important fictions in the mythologizing of art and artists.6 Except for the occasional indulgence in trompe l’oeil tubes of paint, this group of paintings is also most prescient of ’80s artists like Mark Tansey or Robert Longo, who also use a nostalgia loaded with humor to turn the art/media dilemma back upon itself.

The Crónica team returns to the familiar area of regional subject matter in the 1973 series known as “Retratos, Bodegones y Paisajes” (Portraits, still lifes and landscapes—the three most “overworked” subjects in Spanish painting). More melancholic than Crónica’s work to this point, these pieces delve deeply into Catholic mysticism and self-denial, the economic extremes of the class system, and the ideological paradox of a Spanish “national” culture. Iconic figures out of Velázquez, Goya, and Zurbarán appear once again, yet this time apparently drained or robbed of their power, or physically cut off. Again, the contrast of the esthetically “authentic” with an underlying social reality draws our attention to the obvious discrepancy between the dazzling, inventive forms of the modern masters and the sullen resignation of those, whether rich, poor, or middle class, who must take refuge in symbols of power.

One feature of Equipo Crónica’s work that demands our attention today is its persistent self-examination. On occasion, as in the two series “El Cartel” (The poster, 1973) and “Oficios y Oficiantes”(Professions and professionals, 1974), the team falls prey, unfortunately, to the trap of preaching to the already converted. In Los nueve de Alejandría (The Alexandria nine) or Grupo Alpino, both 1974, for example, the artists seek to chronicle explicitly (and symbolically) the milieu, both social and political, in which their work was taking place—except that they have idealized this experience to the point where it is scarcely believable to the viewer. But identifying the failures of these series only serves to illuminate the successes of the next. “La Subversión de los Signos” (The subversion of signs, 1974–76) is perhaps the most satisfying of all Crónica’s serial statements. Less reliant on specific references to social topics (with the exception of Alberto/Kollwitz and Schad/Solana, both 1974, which juxtapose images of war and culture in a familiar overlay style), works like Leer a Daumier (Reading Daumier, 1975) or A Maiakovski (To Mayakovsky, 1976) make it clear that the subject the team had been delineating all along was the underlying complexity and contradiction in the many languages of representation. Contrasts within a single painting, between, for example, El Lissitzky-like arrows, squares, and letters and fragmented visages borrowed from the collages of John Heartfield—with both imposed on a map of Spain—ultimately come to serve as charged measuring rods for Crónica’s own increasingly ambivalent oscillation between the roles of activists and of artists, and for the artists’ own deepening questions about precisely how paintings might be used in the service of building a better world. Particularly and strangely moving in this context is Homenaje a Picasso (Homage to Picasso, 1966-75); here the master of pictorial disguise is memorialized in the year of his death as Pierrot, the sad clown in a room crowded by his own creations.

When a lifelong adversary dies, it’s easy to feel cast adrift, particularly when one’s life and convictions have been, in some sense, anchored in one’s opposition to a formidable foe. In November 1975, Franco died. That event is paid dark tribute in a series entitled “El Paredón” (The wall [where executions are held]). The date appearing in each of the paintings, September 27, refers to one of Franco’s last official acts: the execution of five young militants.’ Here, despite myriad quotations of Bacon, Fernand Léger, Alberto Giacometti, and Paul Klee, the team is clearly interested in placing its series within the long and powerful tradition of Spanish execution paintings (Goya’s The Third of May, 1814–15, being the most famous example). And perhaps these works embody the realization that even beyond the grave Franco’s power would always be greater than theirs, indeed, that the forces of destruction will always overpower the forces of creation, for the team sheds explicitly political content in its work thereafter. Certainly the paintings of “La Trama” (The weave, or The plot), a series of 12 triptychs from 1976–77, seem a kind of retreat, a skilled but somehow hollow exercise in esthetic impersonation. Here, each painting of each triptych serves up a variety of artistic “styles” like various clues in a murder mystery.

We might read Crónica’s following series, “La Partida de Billar” (The pool hall, 1977), as offering the site for that murder. This visual essay on the working-class situation succeeds in mixing the atmospheres of Giorgio de Chirico and Edward Hopper to fashion a subterranean world where emptiness is the most palpable sensation. Here, though the pool tables are brightly colored, the factorylike interiors in which they appear are dank and gray, evoking the sociological prison from which everyone has just been sprung. Despite the paintings’ graphic clarity and precision, Solbés and Valdés manage to impart a forlornness even to the snippets of imagery swiped from Wassily Kandinsky, Juan Gris, and Miró. These elements always appear as peripheral, while the main business of propelling something against something else continues front and center.

From this group of paintings onward, the team’s energy seems to dissipate. The problem lies in neither style nor subject matter, but in the method of bringing the two together. Abandoning an earlier graphic approach in favor of a more expressionistic manipulation of paint, the critique grows slack, almost sentimental. (Witness the moody atmospherics of Día de Iluvia [Rainy day, 1979]). Crónica’s two penultimate series, “Los Viajes” (Travels, 1980) and “Crónica de Transición” (Chronicle of transition, 1980-81), are imbued with an almost wistful sense of nostalgia for the journey the two artists have taken together. At the same time, there’s a marvelous integrity in the recapitulation of that journey as a kind of guided tour. “Los Viajes”, for example, offers us an understated critique, complete with all the requisite accouterments, of a “correct” encounter with other cultures: museums, trains, and hotel rooms infused by masterpieces, views of the mountains, and solitude. “Crónica de Transición” and their final series, “Lo Público y to Privado” (The public and the private, 1981), tend to segue a bit too neatly into the solo works of Valdés, wherein the irony of the appropriative act is downplayed, and most of the pictorial tension vanishes. In this final period before the untimely death of Solbés, the one true masterwork is probably Levitación de un poeta (Levitation of a poet), in which characters from Picasso’s work gather beneath the rising painter in a cubistic version of El Greco’s famous Burial of Count Orgaz, 1528. An ultimate riddle about the artist’s power to enchant others, this work is, in the end, quite somber in its respect for the figure of the late master whose work figured so prominently in theirs.

The general tendency, even in Spain, to regard the work of Equipo Crónica as the product of its time and place brings us up against one of the major issues in the team’s art. On the level of immediate historical succession, Crónica’s stylistic influence can be said to permeate the early years of the “Nueva Figuración” movement, which spawned such diverse artists as Luis Gordillo, Guillermo Perez Villalta, Manolo Quejido, and Carlos Alcolea. Yet largely because of their unique power to provoke, educate, and analyze all at the same time, Solbés and Valdés have made one of the most enduring contributions to world culture. But all this was accomplished, in large part, by playing the role of “Spanish artists” to the point of absurdity—by making work that undermines most clichés about Spanish art in general, and about resistance by fine artists to Franco’s Spain in particular.

The mystery remains, then, why Equipo Crónica are relatively underrated on the international scene, and virtually unknown in the U.S. Early success might be part of the reason. Despite—or perhaps because of—its controversial nature, the work of Equipo Crónica enjoyed wide critical and public support throughout Spain almost immediately, and early recognition in such international groups as the 1965 and 1967 Salon de la jeune peinture in Paris. In 1976, a year after Franco’s death, Arroyo, Crónica, and other previously dissident artists were featured as the representatives of Spain at the Venice Biennale, In 1981, Equipo Crónica’s largest show on home territory was held in the exhibition rooms of the Biblioteca Nacional—then Madrid’s most important venue for traveling shows. But having been official artists at such a transitional moment in Spain as the late ’70s turned out to be a mixed blessing, since it meant that Crónica’s work was already well-known to a mostly young audience that was quite eager, by the early ’80s, to re-create Spain into as new a culture as possible, which required, in particular, cleaning off the previously tarnished role of the spontaneous imagination in Spanish painting. And with Solbés’ death in 1981, the team could no longer produce paintings to enter into that dialogue. (Though Valdés, on his own, continues to explore cartoon/appropriationist modes, these are both reminiscent and forever in the shadow of his earlier work with his partner.)

But as the Spanish art world becomes accustomed to the prospect of a permanent place in the world’s eye, the atmosphere for recontextualizing recent past masters is changing quickly. And at that moment when young Spanish artists are struggling with the dilemma of being seen as both Spanish and international at the same time, the work of this pioneering duo looks fresher and more startling than ever before. Seen from today’s vantage point, Crónica’s work prefigures a profound examination of the issues of originality and value that have come to the forefront of artmaking in our moment. And to an audience grown moribund on the humorless political art found mostly in the U.S., or jaded by the offhand criticality of neo-Conceptual and appropriationist styles, Equipo Crónica offers a conceptual painting that tries to straddle the wide and deep schism dividing social progressivism and the sometimes indecipherable strategies of the avant-garde—a tall order by anyone’s standards, and rarely accomplished with the light touch that was this team’s stock in trade. Seen as art that specifically addresses the complicated role of museums and masterpieces in enlightening the masses, Crónica’s work has deeper implications still for the final decade of the century, when any number of unresolved issues from Post-Impressionism onward are suddenly waiting on the table for anyone to have another stab at them.

Dan Cameron is an art critic who lives in New York. He is a frequent contributor to Artforum.

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NOTES

1. See Tomás Llorens, “Art in Valencia,” in Contemporary Spanish Art, ed. William Dyckes, New York: The Art Digest, inc., 1975, pp. )28-30.

2. Having said all this, it’s worthwhile to note the manifestations of such collaborative efforts in postwar Spain. According to the records, the first declaration of abstract art in Spain was made by the Grupo Pórtico in 1948 in Zaragoza. Groups such as Barcelona’s Dau al Set (Die showing seven) in the late ’40s and ’50s, and Cuenca’s El Paso (The pass) of the ’60s, were also hotbeds of creative foment—these being the groups in which most of the well-known painters of the 1960s got their start. Valencia’s own collectivization tendency dates back to 1957. with the founding of Grupo Parpalló, which introduced nonacademic art for the first time to the region, and continued in the wake of Crónica with the formation, in 1967, of Antes del Arte (Before art), formed by local critic Vicente Aguilera Cerni. (See Llorens, p. 127.) Another important antecedent to Equipo Crónica is the founding in May 1957 of Equipo 57, comprised of a group of four Spaniards living in Paris who practiced a geometric art firmly opposed to Abstract Expressionism. As opposed to other groups, signing their works collectively and selling it cheaply was, for Equipo 57, a deliberated stance against the art world’s star system.

3. And since the mid ’70s, Valencia has also been a prime site for sculpture in the Constructivist tradition.

4. Rafael Armengol, Manuel Boix, and Arturo Heras began, while students, to work from the secondhand examples of French Pop artists like Martial Raysse and Télémaque (see Llorens, p. 128). Starting with readymade images grounded mostly in childhood memories, Armengol, Boix, and Heras gradually made the transition to crisp, photo-precise scenes of modern life, incorporating (except in Heras’ case) a soft-edged social critique. (An integral member of the same community was ex-Crónica member Toledo, who developed a more graphic, psychological version of what became, in the others’ hands, a tool for a social realist graphics renaissance.)

5. For more on the contributions of Estampa Popular, which, in its heyday (1961-65), spawned separate groups in Barcelona, Bilboa, Córdoba, Galicia, and Seville as well as Valencia, and included well-known artists such as Antonio Saura among its members, see Robert John Fletcher, “Graphics in Spain,” in Dyckes, pp. 146-47.

6. As if to establish the continuity between Renau and Crónica, the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno opened with separate surveys of work by both in February 1989.

7. See Equipo Crónica, “Datos Sobre la Formación del Equipo Crónica,” in Equipo Crónica, 1965-81, exhibition catalogue, Madrid: NI inisterio de Cultura, 1989.

Equipo Crónica, 1965-81 opened at the IVAM Centre Julio González, Valencia, traveled to Centro de Cultura Contemporania de la Casa de la Caritat, Barcelona, and is now on view at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, through November 1989.