Federico García Lorca

external image Federico-Garcia-Lorca.jpgFederico Garcia Lorca was a prominent dramatist and poet in the Spanish culture during the twentieth century. He attended the Residencia in Madrid (Student’s Residence Hall) where he met Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel. Some of Lorca’s prominent work includes a poetry collection Gypsy Ballads(1928), and the tragedies Blood Wedding, The House of Bernada and Yerma. Lorca at the age of 38 was killed by the Nationalist during the period of the Spanish Civil War. After his death, his work became international success.

Early Life

Federico Garcia Lorca was born in June 5, 1898 in a small village outside of Granada, Spain. Garcia Lorca came from a wealthy family. His father was a landowner of several farms and his mother a well know musician and teacher in Granada. They lived in a small mansion in the center of the city.

When Federico was two months old, he suffered a severe fever which affected his development as a child. Due to the unknown disease, Federico first words were spoken at the age of three, and began walking at the age of four. Before any progress, it is said that he hummed his mothers’ tunes (Londre 3). These were the early signs of Federico’s love for the arts. Before attending school, his mother taught him the alphabet and how to read music (Londre 3).

Lorca began school in Almeria 75 miles away from his family. He was sent with a good friend of his mothers who took care of him. Lorca’s schooling was later interrupted by a throat infection which caused him to have a severe swollen in his face. Lorca’s delicate situation hindered him from attending school. It was there in his sickness that he wrote his first poem where he compared himself to a fat Sultan (Londres 4).
Once back in Granada, Lorca was sent to private school. He began to study music and was taught to play the piano under the directions of a good friend of the family, Don Antonio Segura Mesa (1845-1916). Under the teachings of Don Antonio, Lorca was disciplined to analyze classical music, literature and traditional Spanish folk music. Lorca became a natural at playing the piano. His ability to play well won him a scholarship to study music in Paris but his father did not allow him to do so (Londres 4-5).
In 1915, Lorca enrolled at the University of Granada where he studied law. Lorca father did not believe the artistic abilities would provide Lorca with a future. On the side of his law studies, Lorca enrolled in the philosophy and letters department. He spent most of his time reading poets and critical writers. However, Lorca’s failure to apply himself caused him to fail out of the philosophy courses. Lorca and his father relationship was a little bit distant because of their different ideas (Londres 5). After admitting to himself his passion towards the arts, Lorca enrolled at the Granada Center for Arts and Literature. Lorca abilities were showed at the center where he constantly gave piano shows and started to write nonstop. At the center, was where Lorca first published his first literary criticism, “Symbolical Fantasy.” Scholars and students were noticing the potential and talent of Lorca’s work. Lorca’s work at the center was the turning point of his career as an artist and as a writer (Londres 6-7).

Mid Life

In 1919, Garcia Lorca moved to Madrid to attend Sacred Heart University at the Residencia de Estudiantes (Student’s Residence) one of the prestigious gifted students center of the Country. He had found the right place to express his artistic and intellectual side. It was an environment where students were passionate at what they did. At the Residence, he became very close friends with Luis Buñuel, a filmmaker, and Salvador Dali, one of the world’s most renowned surrealist painters.
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Lorca and Buñuel met in 1919 in the Residence. Buñuel was instantly drawn to Lorca’s artistic talents and they became close friends (Edward 52). Like Lorca, Buñuel had come from a wealthy family. Although they had very different personalities, they got along very well. At the Residencia, Lorca read out loud his poems to Buñuel (Edwards 58). Buñuel began helping Lorca in his puppet plays where he showed a grand interest for the stage. With Lorca’s inspiring presence Buñuel began to write his own poetry (Edward 58). His future as a filmmaker was very much influenced by Lorca artistic passion. Later on, a rumor began to circulate in the Residencia about Lorca homosexuality. Buñuel was taken aback by the reactions of the residents and confronted Lorca on it (Edward 59). It was impossible to confront to an issue that at that time, it was very dangerous. Although their relationship later on became distant, Buñuel paid a tribute to Lorca for inspiring him to pursue his passion for filming,

" Of all the human beings I’ve ever known, Federico was the finest. I don’t mean his plays or his poetry; I mean
him personally. He was his own masterpiece. Whether sitting at the piano imitating Chopin, improvising a
pantomime,or acting out a scene from a play, he was irresistible. When I first met him, at the Residencia, I was an
unpolished rustic, interested primarily in sports. He transformed me, introduced me to a wholly different world. He
was like flame ( Edward 58)”.

Despite the rumors, Lorca continued writing. In 1920, he published his first volume of poetry “Book of Poems” which contains sixty-eight poems. The volumes sale did not go well. However, this did not stop Lorca from continuing Instead, he completed another volume which did not get published until 1983(Edward 61). In the summer of 1921 in Granada, Lorca became involved with several projects. One of those projects was to finish a law degree he did not finish at the University of Granada. It was his father who requested him to finish it. During the summer Lorca became deeply drawn to the roots of flamenco. The flamenco rhythm and lyrics inspired Lorca for his next poem book called “Poem of Deep Song” where it contains fifty-five poems. In the Poem of Deep Song it contains one his well-known poem called “Road” which later on inspired him to write Blood Weeding and Yerma,

' A hundred horsemen in Mourning/Where are they going,/ Through the low-lying sky/ Of the orange-grove?
They will reach/ Neither Cordoba nor Seville./ Nor Granada who sighs For the sea./Those dreaming horses/ Will bear them,/ To the labyrinth of crosses
Where the song trembles./ Pierced by seven ‘ays’,/ Where do they go,/ The hundred Andalusian horsemen/ Of the orange-grove? (Edward 62)'

In his flamenco rhythmic poems he started to identity his own style as a writer. Manuel de Falla, a prestigious Spanish composer, helped Lorca as a writer. They both became good friends and worked in a festival to revive Flamenco. In 1923, he finished his law degree, which he did not utilize because of his career as a writer. After completing his degree, his father allowed him to go back to Madrid. Lorca returned back to the Residencia where he continued his literary degree. Lorca at the Residencia met Salvador Dali who was attending San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts, a prestigious art institute.

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When Dali first met Lorca, he was not very fond of him. Instead, he was jealous of his talent. Dali wanted to become famous, but Lorca was the one with all the attention. Working in the literary program with Buñuel and Lorca, Dali became close friends with the two. The admiration they had for each other helped them individually to become successful in the future. They worked in the Residencia’s annual production, Don Juan Tenorio. Buñuel and Lorca alternated as director and Dali as an actor (Edward 70). They were all invested in the artistic projects in Madrid. In 1925, Bunuel completed his degree and left for Paris. Dali’s and Lorca relationship became much closer. They worked constantly with each other on several projects.

Lorca and Dali were described as inseparable friends. The artistic and personal attraction was one of the reasons they collaborated in artistic aspect. In 1925, Dali invited Lorca to his house in Cadaques, Spain, during Holy Week. Dali parents loved Lorca and his stories. Visiting the Dali’s family became a routine for Lorca. It was there where he first read his play, Mariana Pineda. Maria Pineda was later premiered in Barcelona’s Goyas Theater with great success where Dali designed the set and costumes. After the visit to Dali’s house, Lorca wrote him a poem to show his admiration and friendship,

‘Above all, I sing of a common way of thinking/ Which joins us in the dark and golden hours./ Art is not the light which blinds our eyes./ First come love, friendship or fencing….(Edward 73)'

Lorca had grown more attracted to Dali. Although, Lorca’s sexuality was not publicly known, it was argued that both Dali and Lorca had a hidden relationship. After leaving Dali’s house in Cadaques, both had gone for a week to Barcelona (Edward 72). Dali affection towards Lorca was expressed in some of his painting. In Still Life (Invitation to Sleep) painted in 1926, Lorca faces appear in a sculpture lying down. That same year, in Still Life by Moonlight, Lorca’s and Dali’s face appears in the moon intertwined. The same face appeared in other Dali paintings: Still Life by Mauve Moonlight, and Composition with Three Figures. Although, Dali had a close relationship with Lorca, he later denied it and claimed that Lorca had tried to seduce him:

“He attempted on two occasions to sodomise me. That annoyed me because I was not a pederast and had no intention of submitting. What’s more, it hurts.
So nothing occurred. Of course, I was flattered in relation to my personal prestige. I inwardly told myself that he was a great poet and that I owed him a bit
of the Divine Dali’s arsehole….(Edward 77)

external image salvador-dali-honey-is-sweeter-than-blood.jpgDali’s and Lorca’s relationship had become more distant. Dali seemed uncomfortable because of the rumors that were going around. He completed a painting that supposedly expressed his frustration. Dali’s Honey is Sweeter than Blood was completed in 1927. In the painting there is again the face of his and Lorca’s head intertwined. The element in the painting suggests his preference for masturbation over sexual intercourse. The title also demonstrate part of that for example, “Honey” may be an allusion to the pleasure of ejaculation and ‘Blood’ can demonstrate the pain of sexual intercourse which he later referred as to “it hurts” in his accusation to Lorca trying to seduce him (Edward 82). In the painting there is also a mummified corpse which represents Bunuel. At the time, it was argued that Bunuel kept insisting to break Dali’s and Lorca relationship (Edward 82).

"Federico sticks in my throat a great deal….Dali is much under his influence.
He considers himself a genius, thanks to the love that Federico offers him….
I’d really love to see him [Dali] come here [Paris] and discover himself anew
far away from the influence of the nefarious Garcia. All this because Dali is a
real male and has great talent."

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"Honey Sweeter than Blood" Salvador Dali

Buñuel described Dali as a real man, thought the quote shows more of his frustration and jealousy towards Lorca’s and Dali’s relationship. Lorca’s sexual frustration was later on present in many of his work. In one of Lorca’s drawing’s called the “Kiss” it showed Dali’s head shadow touching Lorca’s lips. Both artists’ works demonstrated a lot of their inner problems with their sexuality. After four year of a close friendship and as co-workers, their relationship came to an end. It is argued that their strong impulses for creativity and competitive natures drove them apart. In addition, it is also said that Lorca’s denial of joining the surrealism idea could have driven them apart. Dali and Buñuel had become part of the surrealism movement. They both later on criticized a lot of Lorca’s work which was heavenly influenced by the flamenco drama and realism. The relationship of these three talented artists was no longer the same although Dali and Bunuel kept working together.

In 1928, it is said that Lorca had a relationship with a young sculpture named Emilio Aladren. The relationship supposedly lasted a year until the young sculpture married a beautiful young woman. Although Lorca was going through a rough time with his sexuality, he kept working on several of his projects. In 1929, he accompanied his good friend Fernando Rios, a professor at Columbia University in New York. While in New York City, he enrolled himself at Columbia University taking several courses during the summer. It is said Lorca struggled a lot with the language, it was even present in some of his poems, “Landscape of the Vomiting Multitude.”

....The fat lady came first with the crowds / from the ships, taverns, and parks.
Vomit was delicately shaking its drums / among a few little girls of blood / who were begging the moon for protection./ Who could imagine my sadness? / The look on my face was mine, but now isn't me,/ the naked look on
my face, trembling for alcohol / and launching incredible ships /through the anemones of the piers./ I protect myself
with this look/ that flows from waves where no dawn would go,/ I, poet without arms,/ lost in the vomiting multitude,
with no effusive horse to shear/ the thick moss from my temples…..

Although he was having trouble adapting to the culture and language Lorca became close with an American friend, Philip Cummings, who helped him with the language. Philip also took Lorca to trips outside of NY to his family in Vermont where Lorca felt more like home because of the tranquility of the woods. While in New York, Lorca became highly interested in the Harlem community. He was shocked at the difference between rich and poor, the exploitation of the workers and specially, the black people from Harlem. He invested some of his time in the community learning about the lifestyle, culture and music. Lorca’s depression after several months appears in his book “A Poet in New York” where he writes the oppression over the African American community and the hunger for power in Wall Street.
"Blood Wedding" production in Barcelona 1935

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After nine months in New York, Lorca sailed to Cuba where he felt more comfortable. He spent three months in Cuba where he attended lectures and public reading. While in Cuba, Lorca felt rejuvenated as a writer and a freedom in his sexuality. It was said Lorca had many admirers in Havana and may have had an adventure with a handsome Mulatto called Lamadrid (Edward 100). Lorca continued to write the play The Public which he later was finished in Granada.
Later in 1930, after his return to Spain, Lorca began to write what would become his most distinguished plays, Blood Wedding ,Yerma, The House of Benarda and The Public. The political situation was changing, becoming more instable. One of Lorca’s productions that he was directing at the time, The Love of Don Perlimplin while in rehearsal was stopped by the police (Edward 135). For some of his future projects Lorca chose to direct other writer’s plays that were not as controversial such as Miguel de Cervantes’ and Pedro Calderon de la Barca’s religious play Life is a Dream because of the instability of the government. Despite the political instability, Lorca’s touring group had great success.

Later on, Lorca directed Blood Wedding which brought greater success to his career. It first premiered in the city of Valencia in 1933. However, it was a controversial because the sexual inclination the play inclined. Blood Weeding soon became an international success reaching to Argentina. Lorca traveled to Buenos Aires where he spent six months. He then returned to Spain in 1934 where the political situation became even worse. In 1934, he brought another success to his career with the production of Yerma. That year, monarchists were fighting against Madrid’s government. There was an election which the right came into power. Lorca did not agree with the political situation which brought more attention to him.


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Lorca’s production group was criticized in a Madrid periodical , El Duende, where they argued the states fund was being wasted on the university students who were homosexual (Edward 159). The statements caused problems for his touring group as well for Lorca himself. Both Blood Wedding and Yerma brought exposure to his ideas because of exploration of his frustration of sexuality and his statements against Spanish traditions values.
In 1935, Francisco Franco was appointed as Chief of General Staff. At the end of that year, Spain was a in a complete disorder. The Republicans who were loyal to the Spanish Republic were being over taken by the rebels, the nationalistic party led by Franco.
In August 19, 1936, three days before the Civil War broke, on his way back to his home in Granada, Garcia Lorca was arrested by Franco, the dictatorship soldier. Later on, along with his brother in law who was a socialist ex-mayor, was taken and killed. Many of Garcia Lorca’s books were also burned and banned.

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There are multiples of memorials dedicated to Federico Garcia Lorca around Spain. Granada is the prominent city of Lorca monuments and memorials. There is a park named after him and includes “Huerta de San Vicente,” the house where he used to live which is a museum. There is a statue of Lorca in the city center of Granada, Avenida la Constitucion. There is a memorial dedicated to Lorca and all the victims of the Spanish Civil War. Every year on the day of his death, there is an event to commemorate his work and his life.


Federico García Lorca / Poet in New York (Exhibition) in the The New York Public Library
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Wachenheim Gallery

Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
April 5- July 20 2013



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"Yerma" 2003 Spanish production at the Generalife gardens in Granada.

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"Blood Wedding" Liverpool PlayHouse

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"The House of Benarda"
XXVII International Festival Sarajevo, Bosnia Winter 2011

List of Mayor Work
Impresiones y paisajes (Impressions and Landscapes 1918)
Libro de poemas (Book of Poems 1921)
Romancero gitano (Gypsy Ballads 1928)
Poeta en Nueva York (Poet in New York City 1936)
Seis poemas gallegos (Six Galician poems 1935)
Sonetos del amor oscuro (Sonnets of Dark Love Written 1936; published 1983)
Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter and Other Poems (1937)
Poema del cante jondo (Poem of Deep Song 1931)


Christ: A Religious Tragedy (unfinished 1917)
El maleficio de la mariposa (The Butterfly's Evil Spell: written 1919–20, first production 1920)
Los títeres de Cachiporra (The Billy-Club Puppets: written 1922-5, first production 1937)
Retablillo de Don Cristóbal (The Puppet Play of Don Cristóbal: written 1923, first production 1935)
Mariana Pineda (written 1923–25, first production 1927)
La zapatera prodigiosa (The Shoemaker's Prodigious Wife: written 1926–30, first production 1930, revised 1933)
Amor de Don Perlimplín con Belisa en su jardín (Love of Don Perlimplín and Belisa in his Garden: written 1928, first production 1933)
El público (The Public: written 1929–30, first production 1972)
Así que pasen cinco años (When Five Years Pass: written 1931, first production 1945)
Bodas de sangre (Blood Wedding: written 1932, first production 1933)
Yerma (written 1934, first production 1934)
Doña Rosita la soltera (Doña Rosita the Spinster: written 1935, first production 1935)
Comedia sin título (Play Without a Title: written 1936, first production 1986)
La casa de Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernarda Alba: written 1936, first production 1945)
Los sueños de mi prima Aurelia (Dreams of my Cousin Aurelia: unfinished 1938)

Work Cited
Edward, Gwynne. Lorca Bunuel Dali: Forbidden Pleasures and Connected Lives. New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd. 2009. 28-155. Print
Londre, Felicia Hardison. Federico Garcia Lorca. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing.1984.1-38. Print.
Maurer, christopher. "Federico Garcia Lorca: His Life." Federico Garcia Lorca Foundation.

Blood Wedding Liverpool PlayHouse:
Blood Wedding- Spanish Barcelona production 1935
Drawing "The Kiss":
Federico Garcia Lorca
Federico Garcia Lorca statue in Madrid:
Federico Garcia Lorca & Salvador Dali:
Federico Garcia Lorca & Luis Bunuel
Salvador Dali ,"Honey Sweeter than Blood":
The House of Bernada Bosnia:
Yerma Spanish Production at Generalife, Granada.