On This Day Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ Returns to Spain

Irshad Salim — On Sept. 10, 1981, Picasso’s iconic “Guernica” mural was delivered to Spain for the first time– four decades later.

In 1981, Pablo Picasso’s epic painting, Guernica, which depicted the air bombing of the Spanish town by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italian planes, was delivered to Spain for the first time since it was painted in 1937.

The painter, who was living in France at that time, said it could not be returned to Spain until democracy was restored.

In 1937, Picasso expressed his outrage against war with an enormous mural-sized anti-war painting titled “Guernica” and displayed to millions of visitors at the Paris World’s Fair then.

The bombing of Guernica (26 April 1937) gained controversy because it involved the bombing of civilians by a military air force. The attack has entered the lexicon of war as an example of terror bombing.

Also, just opened this month at Venice’s Guggenheim is another treat: the small, brilliant, historically illuminating Picasso on the Beach. It picks up the story of Picasso’s metamorphoses of classical forms on February 6 1937, when the the artist made a crayon sketch “Bather by a Cabin Skipping Rope”.

The beach was always Picasso’s Arcadia, but in three monumental paintings in oil, crayon and pastel made over the next 12 days, he brought to the motif a fresh, deep sense of menace and evolved a new language of distortion, stripped-down forms and monochrome expressiveness that would determine “Guernica” later that year.

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