Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
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Guernica, 1st May-4th June 1937, has become Picasso's most famous painting and a global anti war symbol. Picasso was commissioned by the Spanish Republican government to produce a painting for the Spanish Pavillion at the Paris Exposition.
CUBISM [developed from 1908] characterised by - reduction [abstraction] of natural forms into fragmented forms - geometric shapes - multiple viewpoints viewed
simultaneously in an attempt to suggest three dimensionality. Guernica is a Basque town in Northern Spain. It was bombed by German and Italian planes as part of a practice run. About 1700 people are thought to have died, though this estimate is conservative. Three quarters of the buildings were destroyed. It is believed that Franco, the Spanish dictator, sanctioned the action as a warning to Republican rebels during the Spanish Civil War. News of the massacre of mainly the elderly, women and children quickly spread throughout the world. Picasso was inspired to paint his reaction in what
has become an ICONIC symbol for the futility of war.
Trivia: Guernica travelled the world and then stayed in New York because Picasso's will stated that the painting could not return to Spain until the the restoration of 'public liberties and democratic institutions'. The painting returned to Spain in 1981, in time for the centenary of Picasso's birth. When the painting first returned to Spain it was kept at the Prado. It was held behind bullet proof glass and guarded with machine guns. Since noone has attempted to vandalise it the guards are now regulsar museum security staff.