Historyline 17

The Draughtsman

Today and next week we want to tell you the story of Josep Bartolí, who was a prestigious #draughtsman in the thirties of the twentieth century. He contributed to various Barcelona magazines such as L’Esquella de la Torratxa, La Humanitat and L’Opinió.

During the Civil War, he was one of the founders of the Sindicat de Dibuixants Professionals (SDP), but he quickly went to the front. He was part of the company that militarily took part in the great success of 1939 of the Republican band to the border with the French Republic. Once on the other side, he was interned in different concentration camps (Ribesaltes, Sant Cebrià, and Agde), from where he managed to escape. Finally, in 1942 he was able to embark on the Nyassa ship and arrive in Mexico, in Veracruz. Thanks to a letter of recommendation from his friend Narcís Molins i Fàbrega, a member of the POUM leadership, he was able to join the group of artists and intellectuals who gathered around Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

In Mexico, he also made contact with other Catalan artist friends, such as Marcel-lí Porta and Francesc Camps-Ribera. He also dissociated himself from the PSUC and became accustomed to socialist groups critical of Soviet orthodoxy. In 1944 he published the drawings in the book Concentration Camps, with texts by Molins and Fàbrega, many of them drawn during his stay in the internment camps of the French Republic.

Next week we will tell you the further fates of Bartolí and how he moved in 1946  to New York, where he contributed to Holiday magazine – one of the most popular magazines of the time – for more than twenty years, and started a sentimental relationship with Frida Kahlo.

From so far to so close.

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