Picasso’s Guernica back in Spain

Guernica, by Picasso

From the Basque News and Information Channel:

25th anniversary of the arrival of the “Guernica” to Spain


Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece “Guernica” arrived in Spain 25 years ago from New York’s Museum of Modern Art, a symbolic event the Spanish remembered on Sunday with an anniversary commemoration.

The treasured canvas represents the horrors of the civil war that engulfed Spain in 1936 as dictator Gen. Francisco Franco fought to defeat a democratically elected republican government.

The Reina Sofia museum, where the painting is housed, organized a special day to commemorate the painting’s arrival on this date in 1981 aboard a Boeing 747.

Crowds filled the museum, which has events organized around the “Guernica” exhibition, which includes Picasso’s studies for the work, a museum spokeswoman said.

Spain’s republican government originally commissioned the oil painting to hang in the Spanish pavilion of the 1937 Paris World’s Fair, when Spain was fighting its civil war.

The artist forbade sending the painting to the country of his birth until “public liberties and democratic institutions” were restored after Franco’s dictatorship.

Franco died in 1975, paving the way for Spain’s return to democracy and for the painting’s return from its temporary home in New York.

The 3.5-meter by 7.8-meter (11 ft. by 25 ft.) canvas of tormented figures in black, white and gray represent the horrors of mechanized war.

Spring market day

On April 26, 1937, the German air force bombed the town of Gernika-Lumo, the ancestral capital of the Basque country.

Adolf Hitler’s Germany and Benito Mussolini’s Italy were Franco’s Fascist allies in the civil war, which presaged World War II.

It was a spring market day when the Luftwaffe’s state-of-the-art bombers appeared over Gernika-Lumo and blew it apart.

There were no military targets in town, and the civilian population had been swollen by traders from the surrounding area.

Some 7,000 people were killed by the aerial bombardment.

The complex symbolism of the painting, which exhibits Picasso’s outrage at the bombing and the circumstances that motivated it, has made it one of the most studied and written-about works of art in modern history.

Two documentaries about Picasso were on show at the museum and free guided tours were available every half hour.

The show also celebrates the 125th anniversary of Picasso’s birth in Malaga.

Picasso died in 1973 while in exile from Franco’s Spain in Paris.

Vollard, early 20th century art dealer: here.

39 thoughts on “Picasso’s Guernica back in Spain

  1. Question: I researched that Picasso did some book illustrations (rather graphic in content) as part of his “347” series. I think the name of the grouping is “Celestine”. Were authentic prints, lithos ever made from these original drawings? Note: taped signature, with Roman numeral II, then some other letters and numbers. Just curious what something like this would be valued at. We have two of these small “prints” or whatever they are.
    Thanks for your help.


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