Art and Photographic History German Matters Literature

European Cultural History and personal interactions!

Arte produces cultural programmes in English, French and German. The following programme which is in relatively easy German is well illustrated with drawings, original photographs and film clips and centres around Paris in the 1930s.

It is the period leading up to the Second World War and is particularly interesting on the splits between the Surrealists and the Communists leading up to the fight against Fascism particularly in the Spanish Civil War. It is also good on the developments in different forms of photography and the relationships of key figures like Louis Arragon, Max Jacob, the writer Andre Gide, Miro and of course, Picasso. The programme is worth watching for Picasso’s preliminary sketches of Guernica alone.

From the Arte Website we read that:-

Im Juni 1936 reist André Gide nach Moskau, wo er mit großem Pomp empfangen wird. Angesichts der sowjetischen Realität ist ihm der Prunk eher unangenehm. Kurz nachdem er nach Paris zurückgekehrt ist, trifft er sich mit André Malraux, der gerade aus Spanien eingetroffen ist, das sich im Bürgerkrieg befindet. Malraux hat die Fliegerstaffel „España“ aufgebaut und kämpft auf der Seite der Republikaner gegen Franco. Gide möchte den Reisebericht „Retour de l’U.R.S.S.“ veröffentlichen, der hart mit Moskau ins Gericht geht, doch seine Freunde und Malraux halten den Zeitpunkt für ungünstig. Der Aufstieg des Faschismus erfordere es, die UdSSR als einziges Bollwerk gegen den Nationalsozialismus zu unterstützen. Das Buch erscheint dennoch. Die Sowjets sind außer sich, die Deutschen jubeln.

Ab Mod Kunst

This may be found with more detail at and the whole series is available on 2 DVDs at

Two interesting figures from this period were Andre Malraux and Louis Aragon. Malraux himself was an Art Historian and significantly helped to build part of the Spanish Republican Air Force- and author of La Condition humaine (Man’s Fate) and himself the subject of biographies by Olivier Todd and also Harold Bloom. He was always close to De Gaulle and became a Minister of Culture from 1958-1969. There is an interesting review of Todd’s book at (Photograph below)


Here is a poem by Louis Aragon; it is in French and English translation-



By penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

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