A foundation devoted to perpetuating the memory of General Franco is suing a sculptor for allegedly sullying the former dictator’s reputation by exhibiting a dummy of the man in a Coca-Cola dispenser.
“Always Franco” was a big draw at last year’s Arco modern art fair in Madrid, but the National Francisco Franco Foundation – chaired by the dictator’s daughter – alleged it was an “unwarranted intrusion on the plaintiff’s honour by representing him in a state unworthy of representation, verging on the grotesque and offensive.”
When Eugenio Merino appeared in court on Thursday, the public prosecutor asked for the charges – which include costs and €18,000 (£16,000) in damages – to be dropped because the work, pictured, was “in keeping with current social usage”.
While the court makes up its mind whether to prosecute Merino, dozens of Spanish and Latin American artists, including the Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, have rallied to his defence.
“The bigger a deal they make of this, the more people support me,” Merino said outside the court. “But they’ve already buggered me and got what they wanted: publicity.”
Franco, who led the Nationalists to victory in the country’s civil war, is conspicuously absent from public discourse in modern Spain. His last statue was pulled down in 2008, but a massive mausoleum he had built in his lifetime is still home to a monastery and looms over the so-called Valley of the Fallen near Madrid. It remains one of the last remaining monuments to a dictator in Europe.