No magazine puts a date on his death. However, there are exceptions: Bullfighter has just finished its journey because it was planned that way from the first issue, at the end of 1995. It was then that the journalist and cultural manager Alberto Anaut, who died on July 10, 2023, launched the risky editorial project of an annual large-format magazine (30 by 40 centimeters), excellent paper quality, daring design, unpublished texts and great photographers.
With each issue dedicated to a letter of the alphabet, the last one has arrived in bookstores and its subscribers, Z, about Europe and the complicated process of uniting the Old Continent. It has been 28 years from A to Z (CH was included, but not LL) in what has been “a playground for the ideas and aesthetics of a generation,” he writes to readers in the final volume Óscar Becerra, the director of La Fábrica, the cultural company responsible for this project. But how did it all start and why?
Anaut himself explained it in the letter to the readers of issue A, when he announced “a commitment to quality over mass products that forget about ideas.” He also since then he has accompanied the magazine a Artist’s Notebook, performed by a stellar guest. In 1995 it was Eduardo Chillida, in 2023 it was Antonio López, who has selected 24 details, drawings and color tests from his creative process.
“Alberto had experience in magazines and I was doing The Land of Temptationsa supplement [de este periódico] “I had a lot of freedom,” London graphic designer Fernando Gutiérrez says by phone. “We both wanted to experiment, I had arrived in Spain when I was 27 and had participated in the new The Independent”. As the Internet in the Spanish media was almost in its infancy, “magazines were very important.” “One day Alberto told me that he wanted to do an annual, different one, with a pause, and what he was saying, I visualized it. It was also a product that explained the transition from the 20th to the 21st century, a bridge to a new world.” Becerra also adds by phone that “it was a publication that wanted to provoke questions, not go to the obvious.”
Why the name Bullfighter? Anaut was fond of bulls, but that was not the reason. “It means daring, it was a metaphor for an editorial risk,” says Gutiérrez, who adds that in each of the 11 issues in which he participated he poured out his “passion for typography.” “Honestly, I thought it would be very difficult to get to number 28, but Alberto was leading. Furthermore, with each closing he would throw a spectacular party,” he recalls, amused.
To get to that farra, the magazine had to be simmered for 12 months. Becerra explains it: “The first two months of the year, Alberto was aware of what was floating in the air, of ideas. Then he stockpiled material until the summer. Then the reading of texts and editing the issue began. It was like a craftsman’s workshop. Finally, printing and binding it took a month, so it could be released in December.” In Bullfighter The main themes have been the Mediterranean, dreams, chaos, fear… Monographs on creators, such as Miquel Barceló or Ferran Adrià, have also arrived.
The idea of ending this path with a volume on Europeans is due to the fact that Bullfighter He has wanted to “always go against the current,” emphasizes Becerra. “Because we are in a moment in which the perspective of what Europe has contributed to humanity has been lost.” It is an issue that also closes the circle of the magazine itself. The cover photo is the hand of a pelota player, taken by Luis de las Alas; a nod to volume A, which came out with the image of a boxer’s fist, taken by Jimmy Fox, editor of Magnum.
In this last installment there is deli, like a selection of images from the legendary photoessay The Europeans, by Henri Cartier-Bresson, accompanied by a text about French by the writer and lover of photography Antonio Muñoz Molina. Furthermore, the work continued along these lines by Bruno Barbey (The Italians), in which he portrayed the contrasts of his country at the beginning of the sixties. Aristocrats, beggars, prostitutes, gangsters passed through his Leica… And the Swiss René Burri, with Germans, an x-ray of the wounds of World War II in Germany. From Spain, images from the fifties and sixties by Ramón Masats have been chosen, which showed a country in openness with his usual ironic and critical gaze.
Likewise, there are samples of contemporary projects, such as that of the Dutch Rineke Dijkstra with Almerisa, the name of a girl who fled with her family from the Bosnian war in 1994 and whom she photographed for years. It is a beautiful study about the passage of time. Or Peter Granser’s, titled Alzheimer’sabout people with this disease in a center in Stuttgart (Germany), in 2001. A moving vision, full of delicacy.
In the section Desideratum, which in each issue has summarized the main idea, writes the playwright Juan Mayorga about “the journey through the Mediterranean of an insomniac in whom the voices of the history of Europe and its drift resonate.” Likewise, the text by the Polish essayist and journalist Adam Michnik stands out, who in Language doesn’t lie reviews characters and events of the European 20th century. Or a classic, Stefan Zweig, with his analysis of the lights and shadows of Europe at the edge of the 20th century, included in his work The world of yesterday. In another register, the declaration of the French politician Robert Schuman moves, which became the founding text of the European Communities, and the mythological story of the abduction of Europe narrated by the pastoral poet Mosco of Syracuse 2,200 years ago.
Becerra advances that Bullfighter It’s not going to disappear, it’s just going to transform. “The magazine continues with his name and every year it will have as a guest a great world creator who we will ask to present his interests, his references.” The one who will open the game has not yet been revealed. Bullfighter is dead, alive Bullfighter!
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