Shipping Guernica

At Looking Around, Richard Lacayo has a good summary of the situation with Picasso’s “Guernica,” and a little history lesson about the Spanish Civil War to boot. “Probably the most famous work of art about wartime suffering, ‘Guernica’ has been for years at the center of a tug of war itself. Madrid has it. The Basques want it. The subject of the painting is of course the 1937 bombing raid on the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. It was an attack enthusiastically carried out by German pilots at the urging of the rebel general Francisco Franco. Not long after, Picasso, who was living in Paris, was approached by a delegation from the beleaguered Spanish Republic, who asked him to produce a major work for the Spanish pavilion at the upcoming Paris world’s fair. His response was ‘Guernica.’ When the fair ended the much publicized painting went on a tour of four Scandinavian cities to raise funds for the Loyalist cause, then on to London and the U.S. for the same purpose. All in vain. Franco prevailed in the Spanish war. Then came World War II and the German occupation of Paris, where Picasso would glumly sit out the war…I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the still ongoing Reina Sofia study of the painting’s physical condition, which has so far turned up 129 ‘changes’ to the canvas, most of them due to being repeatedly rolled up during that world tour 70 years ago. But the conclusion that it can’t be moved again, which certainly serves the interests of the Reina Sofia, needs to be seen in the context of the regional struggle between Madrid and the Basques. I’m guessing a move could be handled much more gently this time. It’s not like they’d be shipping it in a FedEx tube.” Read more.

One Comment

  1. Also at the Spanish Pavillion in The World Fair of that year was Joan Mir?�s equally epic (and now lost – it was on panels, I think) The Reaper – (approx 18′ X 11′) – a giant screaming peasant’s head and raised fist.

    Mir?, a man of firm Catalan convictions and sympathy for Basque identity as well.

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