Poet, painter, playwright, political activist, exile: Rafael Alberti crossed the twentieth century intensely, with consistency and commitment.
He was born in Puerto di Santa Maria, near Cadiz in 1902 from a family of Italian origin. In 1917 he moved to Madrid, where he enrolled in the local Academy of Fine Art and met Luis Buñuel, Federico García Lorca and Salvador Dalí thanks to the Residencia de Estudiantes (a liberal cultural institution that was complementary to the University).
Together with them Rafael Alberti will be one of the protagonists of the so-called Generation of ’27.
As a poet he finds his dimension in a confrontation with the politics of the country and in the belief that a man of letters must be at the service of his country. For these reasons he is identified as the singer of Spanish civic elegy.
In 1931 he enrolled in the Partido Comunista de España (PCE) and, together with his partner María Teresa León, founded the revolutionary magazine Octubre. The Civil War sees him lined up against the Francoists. Following the defeat of the Republicans, he was forced to take refuge abroad: in France, Mexico, Argentina and finally in Italy (1963) where he lived between the small village of Anticoli Corrado and the Trastevere district. In Rome he establishes a long cultural partnership with the Italian poet Elena Clementelli and with some literary critics, he also collaborates with the Inti-Illimani, also exiled but from Chile, who music some of his texts.
After Francisco Franco’s death and the end of the regime, he finally manages to return to his homeland (1977), where he fully enters the country’s cultural and political life.
Rafael Alberti painter
Alberti’s artistic and poetic research proceed in parallel: he exhibited for the first time in 1920 at the Salón Nacional de Otoño in Madrid. In the same years (1924) he published the collection of poems Marineri en tierra with which he won the Nacional de Poesía Prize.
He devoted himself to painting with greater intensity in the years of exile: in Argentina he exhibited in various art galleries and published his portfolio of Liricografías poems, in which he combined visual symbols and words.
In Italy, in the early sixties, he attended artists such as Emilio Vedova, Corrado Cagli and Umberto Mastroianni and learned some engraving techniques, such as the unusual lead engraving. He creates numerous serigraphs and lithographs portfolios and designs posters for nature conservation campaigns spread all over the country.
He collaborates with some of the major artists of the time, such as Joan Miró, Antoni Tàpies, Manolo Rivera, Carlos Saura, Robert Motherwell.
In Italy, at the Il Segn di Roma gallery, he pays homage to Pablo Picasso with the cycle of engravings and paintings Los ojos de Picasso and creates the series of screen prints on wood entitled El juego de la Oca Toro inspired by the game of the goose, but combined with the figures of the Bullfight.
Rafael Alberti’s pictorial work possesses great luminosity and a color linked to clear nuances and pastel tones combined and harmoniously blended. In the last years of his production, his style changes: he goes from the obsessive attention to detail and the meticulousness of a goldsmith to an essential sign, often created with a single line.
Rafale Alberti died of a heart attack in Madrid in 1999