Lorca, Bunuel, Dali: Art and Theory

By Manuel Delgado Morales; Alice J. Poust | Go to book overview

Embroiderers of Freedom and Desire in
Lorca's Poetry and Theater

Manuel Delgado Morales
Bucknell University

ONE of the most frequent portrayals of female characters in the literary creation of Federico García Lorca is that of women engaged in embroidery, lacemaking, and sewing. Lorca's fascination with women's needlework was shared by his friends Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel, a fact that suggests that all three of these avant-garde artists sought to reconsider the symbolic potential of these artforms normally carried out by women. It seems likely that Lorca, as well as Dalí and Buñuel, first took an interest in the artistic portrayal of women engaged in lacemaking, sewing, and embroidery because of the revolutionary implications of this domestic activity. Their sense of discovery as young critics of art soon became transformed into a creative vision manifested in poetry and theater (Lorca), painting (Dalí), and film (Buñuel).

An example of this can be seen in the fascination of the three friends with Jan Vermeer's Lacemaker. As Agustín Sánchez Vidal has pointed out with regard to Dalí and Buñuel,1 it is very probable that the common interest of the three friends in the figure of the embroiderer started at the Residencia de Estudiantes [Students' Residence] of Madrid, where they all lived for a time. In the Residencia, according to Saánchez Vidal, hung a reproduction of Vermeer's Lace maker,2 a painting that likely called the attention and piqued the curiosity of Lorca, Dalí, and Buñuel, and that would become a subject of their conversations and artistic endeavors. Keeping in mind Lorca's influence on Dalí and Buñuel, I tend to believe that the Andalusian poet was the one who awakened the painter's and the filmmaker's particular interests in Vermeer's Lacemaker and in the theme of the embroiderer in general. Lorca is the first to refer to Vermeer and his work, when in Impresiones y paisajes (1918) he compares the light of some Flemish interiors in the Covarrubias church to the light created by the Lacemaker's painter.3

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