La Movida Madrilena; the Madrid Movement

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            An art movement is a predisposition or style in art which has a specific common philosophy or objective. This philosophy and goal is adhered to by a group or groups of artists within the bounds of a certain period of time. It may go on for a number of months, years, or decades more (“Art Movement” n.p).

Art movements cover all aspects of art. It does not only center on paintings or sculpture. Oftentimes it also manifests in the pieces of literature, in music, in the themes and plots of movies, and in other forms of art. It has various examples like surrealism, which is movement that started in Europe in the mid 1920’s. From this given movement came out many great artists from the different fields of art who continue to influence artists of this generation (“Surrealism” n.p).

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Another example of an art movement that pioneered in Europe is the La Movida Madrilena or the Madrid Movement. From the title itself, the movement began in Madrid, the capital city of Spain. It occurred in the period between the 1960’s to the 80’s, the years after the tyrannical president, Francisco Franco, died and was finally replaced.

            La Movida Madrilena, like all other art movements, has its own purpose or aim for existence. This goal had been the core of the creation of the various artists that sprung not only in Madrid but in the entire country of Spain. It is the heart of their produce, the meaning in their literary pieces, and the message of their songs’ lyrics. It also has its own history, an origin which served as its solid foundation. More importantly, the Madrid movement has its artists who helped extend to most of Spain the ideology of the capital city.

Antes de Movida (Before Movement): Generalisimo Francisco Franco

            Francisco Franco is only one of the names and personalities that were very famous during the period of the Madrid Movement. However, his fame was not due to being the precursor of the ideology but because the ideology was born from his thirty-six-year-long dictatorship in Spain. He was a tyrant who forced his way from being a military man to the president of a country.

            Born from a naval postmaster father, Nicolas Franco, and a pious conservative upper middle class mother, Pilar Baamonde, on the 4th of December 1892, Franco was the second of five children. He was baptized as Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teodulo Franco y Bahamonde in the military parish of El Ferrol. He grew up following the dictates of his lineage. At fourteen, he enlisted in the Infantry Academy in Toledo. By the time he aged 32 Francisco was already the youngest military general of Spain (Arraras 4-5).

            Due to his renown, it had been easy for Franco to influence people. This gained him enough support to start removing his rivals for the leadership of the Nationalist Forces. Since then, his aim had been apparent. He was going for the total control of the country and it had not been long before he was able to fulfill it. In July 1936, he was declared “Generalisimo” (commander-in-chief) and “jefe de estado” (head of state). By December of the same year, he was recognized as the legitimate ruler of Spain (Trueman n.p).

            As the head of the state and commander-in-chief, Franco had not been the lenient kind. As may be expected from a military officer, he was even quite violent. He had over 200 senior military officers killed for being loyal to the Republic and thousands more followed these deaths. From the moment he was given authority, Franco had been signing death warrants until the last months of his life (Trueman n.p).

This was because Franco was afraid of conspiracies against him. He could not afford losing power. He was obsessed in keeping his position safe. He posted guards called “guardia civils” all over cities. They serve as signs of his presence and the means of social control (Trueman n.p).

Due to the cruelty, many opposing organizations have been established to oust him. However, none were successful. Most calls for revolt were repressed. The students, the youth of that generation who cry out for freedom were hindered by heavy arms. It had been a time when a word that may hint revolution may mean immediate death. People were afraid and even as they were allowed to move around the cities, no one was truly free (Trueman n.p).

Everyone had to follow the set social structures. Most of these rules aimed to preserve traditional family role, formal relations between sexes, control over expression and the media, and other significant social institutions. These rules are the basis for all the citizens’ actions. Any activity that may point to deviance is considered punishable (“La Movida Madrilena”).

El Muerte de Franco (The Death of Franco)

In 1969, about thirty years after Franco was declared the ruler of Spain, he designated Prince Juan Carlos de Borbon as his successor, seemingly feeling the coming end of his regime. By 1973, he gave up his prime minister position and retained only the head of the state and commander-in chief functions. He was already eighty years old then. As he reached eighty-two, Franco caught an illness from which he eventually recovered. However, by the entry of 1975, the illness returned and recovery became elusive. On the 20th of November, Francisco Franco finally died, taking with him thirty-six years of repression and censorship (Trueman n.p).

As Franco’s declaration, Prince Juan Carlos succeeded him. Juan Carlos became the new ruler of Spain. As such, his first action was to facilitate smooth transition. Within his reign Spain voted democratically for the first time after over forty years, a new constitution was signed, the socialist party won the elections by a landslide, Adolfo Suarez was appointed prime minister, and Enrique Tierno Galvan was voted mayor of Madrid (“La Movida”).

Of all the highlights during the rule of Prince Juan Carlos, the victory of Enrique Galvan may be considered as the most significant as regards the arts, and socio-cultural branches of life. La Movida Madrilena or The Madrid Movement had been possible because of Galvan. He turned a blind eye to the possible negativity as a way of promoting an Espana Moderna or Modern Spain. It was also his way of supporting the people in breaking from the Francoist past. Together with the new prime minister, he pushed for the continuation of the movement (“La Movida”).

La Movida Madrilena (The Madrid Movement)

            As other art movements, La Movida Madrilena had been appealing to the eyes of the people of Madrid as it was a result of an unforgettable event. It claimed that the trend it was promoting was a response to the repression and censorship that the Franco regime imposed on the people. In a way this may be likened to Dadaism, o which was a movement, also in Europe, that was established as a response to the First World War. It was an expression of disgust to the seeming promotion of violence the war. In the case of the Madrid Movement, it was an appreciation of the freedom that was repressed and censored during the 36-year-old reign of Franco (“La Movida”).

            It had not bee only the repression and censorship which sparked the fire of the Madrid Movement. There were other factors which contributed to the establishment of the movement. The setting, the people, and the influences were aspects that helped develop movement (“La Movida”).

            The first given aspect is the setting. As according to the name of the movement, it all began in the central city of Spain, Madrid. This setting may be considered as very strategic for starting the spread of an ideology for a number of reasons.

            First, as the capital city, Madrid was the point of origin of most trends in the different aspects of life. It is the center of politics, of commerce, arts, and socio-cultural matters. Most new trends that originated from it is believed credible and as such, immediately adopted. A second reason is that during the years between the 1960’s and 80’s many artists have come to live in Madrid. These artists varied from painters, sculptors, and musicians (“La Movida”).

            There were two important figures in the movement, who coincidentally just transferred in an apartment near the capital after the death of Franco. Juan Carrero and Enrique Naya were great artists whose influences were mostly American. Therefore, as the United States was already known as a sincere advocate of democracy, the two artists extended this ideology of freedom to Spain. These personalities became two of the precursors of the movement (“La Movida”).

            A third yet still significant reason that made Madrid a strategic location for the movement was because as compared to other cities, Madrid had a lenient local leader. Enrique Galvan, Madrid’s city Mayor, was an open-minded person. Unlike typical politicians, Galvan was not a highly educated person. He was a university drop-out. He was a radical person who cared a lot about the development and improvement of his jurisdiction, and more importantly, his country. As such, he viewed the movement positively. He believed that the movement was a means to gradually modernize Madrid and soon all of Spain. He found it necessary for the completion of the transition (“La Movida”).

            The second factor was the people. This factor may be said as very critical. This pertains to the citizens of Madrid, the Madrilenos and Madrilenas who served as the receivers of the innovations in the various branches of art during the time, the audience of the performances. Without the people, the movement would not have spread from the original setting to the various surrounding areas (“La Movida”).

            As the receivers of the ideology of the times, the Madrilenos were highly cooperative. As such the movement spread like wild fire. This may be due to the freedom that was newly found, the freedom that was achieved after the death of Franco. The people easily adopted the ideology, although there were others who were in opposition. They found the ways of the movement quite in the negative light (“La Movida”).

            Since it was a response to a long period of repression and censorship, La Movida Madrilena had been a movement of expressing one’s self without any kind of fear or pretense. It made way for activities that were banned during the 36-year-long rule of the military man, Francisco Franco. The Madrid society then had drastic changes. People were always excited and enthusiastic and everyday was always a party. From morning until evening people were found in the party areas. Mostly these are bars or corners were “La Movida Musicians” gather to play and share their music. Both men and women especially the youth dressed to the utmost difference from the typical clothing style. Men wore unconventional skimpy tops that looked too gay tp be considered as men’s wear, while women wore small and skimpy clothes that covered almost only half of their bodies. Also, men sported long hairs, while women dyed their hair with colors too psychedelic to be considered natural. The conservative family values and the formal relationship between sexes which was promoted by the Franco regime seemed to have dissolved. Sex became an activity that was almost open to the public. Drug usage was also rampant among teens. The happenings were almost comparable to that of the hippie years in the United States. People enjoyed, and relaxed. It was a very welcoming lifestyle (“La Movida”).

            The third factor that affected the Madrid movement was the influences. Influences referred to other artists whose works affected the creation of the style of the creation of art pieces during the period of La Movida. Like the activities, which seemed adopted from the United States, the forms of art in those days were also influenced by American artists. Music icons like David Bowie and Boy George were renowned by the Madrid society during La Movida. When their songs were not played, musicians’ originals were played, originals which were commonly under the same genre. Alaska and Fabio McNamara, are two of the Madrid artists who became famous in the time of La Movida. Both admitted that their pieces were derived from the Western sounds and they were not alone. There are other artists like Carlos Berlanga, Blanca Sánchez, and Pedro Almodóvar who created music that was not an imitation of a Western influence, but one that drew from it the quality and entertainment factor (“La Movida”).


            As according to review of related pieces of literature and studies, it indicated that La Movida Madrilena or the Madrid movement is an art movement which involved the utmost expression and manifestation of freedom through the pieces of arts and music, as well as through activities and most of all way of life. The pieces that were produced were influenced by artists from other countries, but more importantly by the ecstasy of being free. It was almost a thanks-giving for the freedom after the death of Franco. Occurring in the period between the 1960’s and the 80’s in the capital city of Spain, Madrid, it served as a response to the tyrannical rule of Francisco Franco, who for thirty-six long years repressed and censored the people’s thoughts and beliefs, and promoted his own ideologies. The movement made Madrid the center of happenings and events. It became a place where great artists were discovered and appreciated by the people.

            From these it may be derived that La Movida Madrilena is a successful art movement that has similarities with other art movements. Its success was influenced by factors like setting, the people, and the influences of the artists. Also as any other movement, it has its own history. It originated from the repression and censorship that Franco imposed on Spain, spurred by people who are for freedom like Madrid Mayor Enrique Galvan and Prime Minister, Felipe González. It also has an ideology which it pursues as any other art movement. It was a response for the repression and censorship. It also promotes freedom and expresses and manifests it. In addition, La Movida produced artists like Alaska and Kaka de Luxe, who are distinguished Latin artists from then and until now. Therefore, La Movida Madrilena, is a genuine art movement that began in Madrid Spain by people who learned to appreciate freedom after being caged by one person’s ideologies.

Works Cited

Arraras, Joaquin. Francisco Franco. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. 2005

 “Art Movement”. 2009. 3 April 2009


“La Movida”. 2007. What 3 April 2009


“La Movida Madrilena”. 2009. Madrid-uno. 3 April 2009.

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 “Surrealism”. 2008. Surrealism .org. 3 April 2009. < >

Trueman, Chris. “General Francisco Franco”. 2009. History Learning Site. 3 April 2009



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