Francis Bartolozzi (Pitti)

1908Madrid, Spain | 2004Pamplona, Spain
Francis Bartolozzi (Pitti) — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Portrait of Francis Bartolozzi “Pitti”

Spanish painter and illustrator.

Francis Bartolozzi came out of a circle of artists associated with the Escuela de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid who were prominent in the fields of illustration, poster art and set design. This explains why she attended classes at the Instituto Escuela associated with the Institución Libre de Enseñanza, one of the most progressive and forward-looking schools in the Spanish capital. Those studies were to leave a permanent mark on her intellectual personality. Later, in 1925-1930, she trained in the fine arts at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, where she met Julio Romero de Torres (1874-1930), Remedios Varo (1908-1963), Delhy Tejero (1904-1968) and Pedro Lozano de Sotés (1907-1985), who was to become her husband and artistic partner. During those years she began to visit shows at the Ateneo and the Círculo de Bellas Artes, becoming familiar with the latest tendencies among the international avant-garde.

F. Bartolozzi started out as an illustrator of children’s books, first for the Casa Calleja publishing house (1926) and then magazines such as Blanco y Negro and Crónica. At that time many artists were involved in publications for children as the links between art and pedagogy became stronger than ever. The magic and festive world of childhood left a deep impression on her work, as can be noted even in her production during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), in, for instance, her series Pesadillas infantiles [Children’s nightmares] (1937), depicting the horrors of war from the children’s point of view.

Popular culture also profoundly influenced her sensibility, even more so when she took part in the Pedagogical Missions launched by the Spanish Republic in 1931, initiatives intended to spread culture and modern education throughout the country. F. Bartolozzi and Pedro Lozano contributed by designing posters, stage sets and figurines influenced by the international art trends of that period.

After the outbreak of the civil war, anti-fascism came to the fore in her flourishing work. She joined with other artists in collaborating with the Republic’s propaganda ministry, especial on the multidisciplinary projects organised by its propaganda vehicle, called the Altavoz del frente (referring figuratively and sometimes literally to the Republican army’s front line loudspeakers). Her most descriptive drawings were made in support of these efforts, representing the faces and experiences of the men and women fighting the war against fascism. Six of these prints – she destroyed the plates when Franco’s troops entered the city of Valencia, where she had taken refuge – were shown in the Spanish Pavilion at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris, along with Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) Guernica.

Her corpus represents a striking example of art committed to the anti-fascist cause during the period between the two world wars. After Franco’s victory and the establishment of his fascist regime that would rule until 1975, she lived in Pamplona, and although she continued to work as a children’s books illustrator, fell into oblivion. The inclusion of her work in the collection of the Museo Nacional Reina Sofía in Madrid marked a slight re-emergence in the context of the reawakening of historical memory in Spain

Inés Molina

Translated from the Spanish by Leo Stephen Torgoff.

A notice produced as part of the TEAM international academic network: Teaching, E-learning, Agency and Mentoring

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