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Beloved Spanish artist Eduardo Arroyo dies aged 81

Iconic Spanish artist, known for his opposition to Franco's dictatorship, passes away at his family home in Madrid.

Tuesday 16 October, 2018
Eduardo Arroyo died on Sunday at age 81.
Eduardo Arroyo died on Sunday at age 81. Foto:Ara / EFE

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Spanish artist Eduardo Arroyo died in his own home in Madrid this Sunday at the age of 81. Known not only for his talents as a painter but also as a sculptor and writer, the art world is mourning the loss of one of Spain's finest 20th-century artists.

Unable to pursue an artistic career in his home country during the dictatorship years, Arroyo left Spain on his own accord for Paris in 1958. Here, he began life working as a journalist as well as pursuing his passion for painting. Having escaped the repressive military regime of dictator Francisco Franco, he cemented himself as part of the French intellectual and avant-garde circuit, playing an important role in developing French progressive culture.

Whilst becoming increasingly famous in European and US art circles, Arroyo remained relatively unknown in Spain, his first exhibition in his homeland only taking place in 1963 at the Valencia Biennial and swiftly closing after opening due to censorship. Briefly detained in the city, he was then released due to strong international support.

Along with Gilles Aillaud and Antonio Recalcati, he painted the iconoclastic Live and Let Die or the Tragic End of Marcel Duchamp in 1965. Created as a manifesto defending collective authorship in place of the era’s trend of individualist abstraction. At the forefront of European art, they were at the helm of the Narrative Figuration movement (figuration narrative in French), which has often been regarded as the European counterparts to the United States’ Pop Art movement.   

Choosing to remain living outside of Spain until the end of the dictatorship, the first time he was able to freely exhibit his work in his birth country was for the Antalógica exhibit in Madrid’s National Library during 1982.

Famed also for his literary talents, 1974 saw the publication of his work titled Treinta y cinco años después, which denounced the Franco regime. He also went on to write his autobiography published under the guise of 'Sardines a l'huile,' sparking another scandal with its allegations against people in both the political and cultural spheres of France and Spain. 

The recipient of plenty of accolades throughout his career, he’s known for winning the 1982 Hispano Premio Artes Plásticas, and for his contribution to cinema, the ‘Fundación Simone et Cino del Duca-Instituto de Francia’ was awarded to him in 2005.

During a 2009 interview with news agency EFE, he was quoted as saying his wish was to “die with paintbrushes in his hand alongside an epitaph which reads, ‘Eduardo Arroyo. Painter,' a truly committed multi-talented creative until the end, his contributions to the art world will be sorely missed. 



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