In 1997, the King and Queen of Spain, Juan Carlos and Sofía visited El Puerto de Santa María in order to open the permanent exhibition “Rafael Alberti: a Living Creation Century”. This exhibition, which occupies the building´s complete ground floor is daily attended by visitors from all over the world. Through the rooms of the exposition, the poet´s biography occupies wide boards in an unique cronological and historically interesting course, added with photos and paintings, on which the mythical life of Rafael Alberti, his literary and pictorial work, his political ideology, his thirty-nine years of exile in France, Argentina and Italy are exhibited in truthful representation. From his first book of poems Marinero en Tierra (Sailor on Land, 1924) to Canciones para Altair (Songs for Altair, 1989) and the third volume of his memories, which concludes La arboleda perdida (The lost Grove, 1996), Alberti´s work has been an exceptional example of an intense life, completely dedicated to the artistic creation.
Rafael Alberti´s legendary life is reflected in his wide bibliography. It is very difficult, nearly impossible, to find a work, which does not express the reality he had to live; this makes him one of the most autobiographical writers of his generation. His birth in El Puerto de Santa María, at the shores of the Bay of Cádiz – the oldest city in the western hemisphere – could not be casual, as his home town would have a profound influence on his entire life and artistic output.
Throughout its course, the permanent exhibition “Rafael Alberti: a Living Creation Century” shows a constant flashing of colour and luminosity, in which the poet´s personality, his powerful and creative strength are represented in paintings, poems, manuscripts, Lyricographs... with the strength and lyricism his character requires. A series of display cases shows documents, awards and prices, letters and books of Alberti, which have been translated into different languages and increase the response to his literary and pictorial work. Via these boards, numerous photos of Rafael Alberti convey to us in an unending show of pictures the different moments of his private and public life, the people closest to him, as well as the most important figures of the 20th century and his extensive travels around the globe.
In 1999 the Town Council of El Puerto de Santa María, in the knowledge that the Rafael Alberti Foundation radiates in the Bay of Cádiz as one of the most important cultural centres of Spain, bought the adjoining building, in order to enlarge the space available for displays about the author. The Cultural Department, the Cultural Council of the Andalusian Government, the Deputation of Cádiz as well as the Town Council of El Puerto de Santa María collaborated in this project and converted it into wonderful reality. At the commemoration of Rafael Alberti´s hundredth birthday, the 16th December 2002, the foundation´s new seat was opened, to show ist stocks in new exhibition areas, a larger library, an audiovisual room and a conference hall. In honour of his centenary, the poet´s complete works were published for the first time. All this was accomplished so that Rafael Alberti´s dearest wish as a creator: “the illusionary and maybe vain hope, that time may not extinguish my traces on the many roads I walked”, - as he wrote in his memories, could be realised in the greatness and dignity his universal name deserves.
Infancy and adolescence in El Puerto de Santa María.
The family Alberti-Merello moves to Madrid. He yearns for the maritime landscape of El Puerto de Santa María. His first vocation for painting. Student Residence of Madrid. He recieves the National Prize in Literature. Friendship with a group of poets that later will be known as the “Generation of ´27”.
Republic and Civil War. Social and political commitment.
The exile: France, Argentina and Italy. Homesickness for Spain and full dedication to the literature. Renewed concentration on his pictorial activity. International Lenin Peace Prize.
He returns to Spain. He is elected Representative of Cádiz for the Spanish Communist Party in the first democratic parliament. Political activity as a “poet on the street”. National Prize in Theatre and Cervantes Prize in Literature. He settles down in El Puerto de Santa María.
“María Teresa León” Room