Photogenic Melancholia


A striking collage from a pretty remarkable exhibition, finishing in Madrid today, of the Valencian artist Josep Renau’s The American Way of Life – an at times bracingly unsubtle series of collages castigating US imperialism, commodity culture, racism, militarism and hypocrisy (some of these were also printed in the press of the DDR, where Renau moved to in 1958 and where he finally collected these images in 1977 in a book called Fata Morgana USA). This short-circuit of melancholia and Yankee avaritia is one of the best images. More images and background on the work Renau produced in his Mexican and German exiles can be found here.

PS. In 1939-40 Renau also collaborated with David Alfaro Siqueiros in the mural Portrait of the Bourgeoisie commissioned for the stairwell of the headquarters of the Mexican Union of Electricians. Going by such documents, there are evidently periods when the question of representing capitalism poses itself in less circuitous registers:


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