Rafael Alberti Biography

Rafael Alberti




Rafael Alberti was born Dec. 16, 1902 in Puerto de Santa María, Spain. Of Irish/Italian descent he attended a Jesuit school there until he reached the age of 15, when he was expelled due to a romantic interest, which the Jesuit teachers did not approve of. At this point he moved with his family to Madrid, and his Andalusian youth was fixed forever in his memory as an image of Lost Paradise, an image which appears often in his poetry.

Alberti studied art in Madrid and enjoyed some success as a painter before 1923, when he began writing and publishing poems in magazines. His first book of poetry, Marinero en tierra (1925; “Sailor on Land”), recalled the sea of his native Cádiz region and won a national prize. A member of the so-called Generation of 1927, Alberti helped to celebrate the tercentenary of Luis de Góngora in 1927, and Góngorist influence is apparent in the work published in that period, El alba del alhelí (1927; “The Dawn of the Wallflower”) and Cal y canto (1928; “Quicklime and Song”). With his next book, the somewhat Surrealist Sobre los ángeles (1929; Concerning the Angels), Alberti established himself as a mature and individual voice.

In the 1930s Alberti’s work became overtly political; he wrote plays, traveled widely, joined the Communist Party—from which he was later expelled—and founded a review, Octubre. He fought for the Republic in the Spanish Civil War and afterward fled to Argentina, where he worked for the Losado publishing house and resumed both his poetry and his earlier interest, painting. In 1941 he published a collection of poems, Entre el clavel y la espada (“Between the Carnation and the Sword”), and in 1942 a book of drama, prose, and poetry about the Civil War, De un momento a otro (“From One Moment to Another”). He published a collection of poems inspired by painting, A la pintura (1945; “On Painting”), and collections on maritime themes, such as Pleamar (1944; “High Tide”). After 1961, he lived in Italy, returning to Spain in 1977.

In 1964, he exhibited X Sonetos romanos (Ten Roman Sonnets), etchings and lead engravings, for which he won the first prize for print-making at the “V Rassegna d´Arte Figurativo di Roma” in 1966 . In the same year he created an homage to the 85th anniversary of Pablo Picasso Los ojos de Picasso, a portfolio which contains lead engravings and their original paintings in color, which were exhibited together in the “Galleria Il Segno” in Rome.

Alberti’s autobiography, La arboleda perdida (The Lost Grove), was published in two volumes, the first in 1942 and the second in 1975. Rafael Alberti died at home on Oct. 28, 1999 in Puerto de Santa María, Spain at 96 years old.