June 21, 2006

Global Seminars & Invited Speaker Series


The Bullfighting Fair Poster: Art for Bullfighting

Dr. Javier Azanza López


Tomás Muñoz Asensio. Bullfighting Fair poster. 1999.

Tomás Muñoz Asensio. Bullfighting Fair poster. 1999.

In his speech, Javier Azanza alluded to the creation, in 1959 and at the initiative of Sebastián San Martín, of the Bullfighting Fair, a true revulsive of the bullfighting festival in Pamplona. The Fair was accompanied by the poster that was created in its beginnings with the double purpose of announcing the Sanferminero bullfighting program and serving as the Bullfighting Fair Trophy, internship , which was maintained until 1966.

After the first few years in which the famous bullfighting painters Andrés Martínez de León and Antonio Casero succeeded each other in the elaboration of the poster, the commissioning of the poster was entrusted to the Poster Commission, which arose from the heart of the Mecca Bullfighting Commission, and was made up, among others, of Ignacio Cía, Fernando Redón and Fernando Nagore. Direct commissioning to renowned firms, absolute freedom of execution, capacity to surprise and impact, and a certain dose of controversy, were the premises on the basis of which the Poster Commission was to put together one of the best and most complete collections of bullfighting themes.

In Professor Azanza's opinion, the two qualities that define the Feria del Toro poster are its quality and its variety. The quality is provided by the contrasted category of the artists to whom the Casa de Misericordia has entrusted the execution of the original work for the poster. In the 48 editions of the event, La Meca has achieved a perfect balance between local, national and foreign firms in its efforts to promote its bullfighting art collection.
As a curious fact, four women have signed the poster of the Fair: the German Edith Hultzsch in 1981, Francis Bartolozzi in 1989, Elena Goñi in 2000 and the Italian Laura Panno in 2001. Fathers and sons have also signed posters, although in separate editions: this is the case of the aforementioned Francis Bartolozzi and her son Rafael, and the American painter Gino Hollander and his son Jim. There have even been artists who have "doubled" in the San Fermin and Feria del Toro posters; this is the case of Mariano Sinués, Francis Bartolozzi, Faustino Aizkorbe and the Bilbao-born Luis García Campos. And we cannot forget that among the names with which the Casa de Misericordia established contact to commission them the poster of the Fair are those of Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon, although finally it was not possible to achieve their signature.

Along with quality, variety is another of its defining features, the result of the freedom granted to the artists when it comes to designing the poster. Formal variety, since the poster includes different aesthetic trends, from the impressionist interpretation of the festival to approaches close to abstraction, without leaving aside other trends of the 20th century. Chromatic variety, and technical variety, since the Bullfighting Fair poster collection offers a wide repertoire of techniques and supports. And iconographic variety, because although the bull is the main protagonist of the poster to announce the Fair, the conception of the bull, the scenario or the lances are almost as many as the posters in the collection of the Casa de Misericordia.

In this way the bull, sometimes conceived as a mythological and totemic animal, is represented in the different suertes of the bullfight, from the exit through the bullfighting gate to the duel with the bullfighter, in which lantern suertes, magnificent forehands and breast passes are rewarded by the public with hats or flowers thrown into the arena. A bull that does not Withdrawal to other possible scenarios such as the placid existence in the countryside and the pasture, the patient wait in the Corralillos del Gas, or the fast degree program morning of the running of the bulls. A bull that, in the last written request, decides to become a bullfighter and perform the paseíllo to star in an unprecedented fight in the history of bullfighting.

But the bull also sometimes becomes invisible in his poster to give way to the solitary figure of the picador unmounted from his mount, to the skin that conceptualizes the essence of the fiesta, to the plastic and photographic cape or to the bulls of the cattle ranches engraved in old gold, without forgetting logo-posters in which line and color become a true metaphor of the confrontation in the bullring. 

Azanza concluded by saying that the set of posters for the Feria del Toro offers a unique approach to the world of art and bullfighting, a heritage value of the Casa de Misericordia de Pamplona that has been configured with rigor and coherence.