Lisbon through Almada´s eyes
Political and Social Context
At a very young age, Almada Negreiros witnessed Portugal’s difficult transition from a monarchy to a republic. He was only 17 when the republic was declared, an act which brought a process of strong opposition to the monarchical regime, culminating in regicide in 1908, to an end.
The times that followed were far from peaceful. The First Republic has gone down in the Portuguese history books as a period marked by struggles between freemasons, republicans and members of the Carbonari (a secret and revolutionary society). In the 16 years the First Republic lasted, there were 45 governments, 8 presidents and 7 parliaments. At the time, the political chaos created an unsustainable economic situation, with the country in a state of bankruptcy and growing social upheaval.
On 28th May 1926, a military coup put an end to this precarious democracy, establishing a dictatorship which from 1933 was called the Estado Novo, “New State”. Salazar was the central figure of this new regime that endured until 1974, four years after the death of Almada Negreiros. For some four decades, Portugal was kept deliberately peripheral, with no social mobility and a human development index far below the European average.
Perhaps due to his disenchantment with both the degrading spectacle of the First Republic and the Salazar dictatorship, Almada Negreiros always presented himself as “apolitical” and cultivated a distance that led the powers that be to consider him an outsider.
Resistant in his own way, the artist used this distance as a space in which he could develop his creativity without constraint, based on a style very much his own and totally outside the established canons.