Oscar E. Vazquez
The End Again
Degeneration and Visual Culture in Modern Spain
Penn State UP 2017
As fin de siglo Spain struggled with perceived decadence and decline, the visual arts reflected the debate and influenced the outcome. This volume argues that the way artists understood and depicted the concepts of degeneration and regeneration is essential to understanding the broader societal conversation and is inseparable from definitions of Spanish modernism.
Oscar E. Vazquez examines how painting, sculpture, drawing, and popular illustrated materials approached endings and beginnings during the Bourbon monarchys restoration. Throughout this period, people inside and outside the art world came to associate degeneration with certain types of artistic productions, spaces, and human bodies, imbuing them with backwardness, violence, criminality, and disease. Pictorial representations contributed to this understanding that specific things, actions, attitudes, and ways of being were degenerative and backward or, alternatively, regenerative and modern. Vazquez explores the significance of these disparate perceptions and how their visual representations reflected Spanish national identity and modernism.
An in-depth study of the ideas of degeneration and regeneration in modernist Spain, The End Again is an insightful look at how art can affect the social and cultural debates at the heart of a nation.