Franco in fridge sculpture stirs up Spain art fair

MADRID- A sculpture of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco set inside a fridge was a star attraction at a major contemporary art fair which opened Wednesday in Madrid.
The work by Spanish artist Eugenio Merino depicts the general wearing a green uniform and dark sunglasses with his knees bent inside the fridge, which is decorated with a white and red design similar to the Coca-Cola logo.

Franco in fridge sculpture stirs up Spain art fair
Merino said his piece "Always Franco" is meant to be a comment on how the former dictator, who ruled from the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 until his death in 1975, continues to make headlines in Spain.
"It represents the idea that in Spain people are keeping the image of Franco alive. We don't stop talking about him, debating about him. A fridge is where things are kept alive and fresh," he told AFP at the ARCO art fair.
He cited the trial this month of top judge Baltasar Garzon for trying to prosecute Franco-era atrocities, and a controversy over the publication last year of a favourable biography of Franco by Spain's Royal Historical Academy.
The sculpture -- made of resin, silicon and human hair -- was one of the most sought after by photographers, television crews and visitors to the five-day fair, which features works from 215 art galleries in 29 countries.
"There are people who really like it, others who can't stand it. Spain is very divided on the topic of the dictatorship," said Merino, who was born just months before Franco died at the age of 82.
Barcelona-based gallery ADN is asking 30,000 euros ($40,000) for the sculpture.
Merino has made headlines at previous editions of the art fair.
In 2010 the Israeli embassy in Madrid protested over his sculpture "Stairway to Heaven". It depicts an Arab man on his knees praying, with a Catholic priest on the Arab's back also knelt in prayer and a Rabbi in turn standing on the shoulders of the priest.
The artist also sparked controversy at the fair in 2009 with a sculpture depicting British artist Damien Hirst shooting himself in the head.

Thursday, February 16th 2012

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