Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica”

As an Artist I was deeply troubled to hear the following news. The reproduction of Picasso’s famous antiwar mural, Guernica, hanging at the entrance to the U.N. Security Council, was censored in January 2003. Picasso agreed to paint a mural for the Spanish Pavilion of the 1937 International World’s Fair. Urged by representatives of the Spanish Republic (under siege by General Franco and his Nazi allies), to paint something decrying the fascist onslaught… Picasso was swayed by one particular horrific incident. On April 27th, 1937, Nazi warplanes obliterated the little Basque village in northern Spain called Guernica. Hitler’s forces pounded the village from the air for hours, turning it into a sea of fire and rubble. Over 1,600 civilians perished in the world’sfirst sustained aerial bombardment of a civilian population. News of the massacre reached Paris where Picasso was living. Newspapers were filled with photographs of the smoldering ruins of Guernica, and after having seen those photos Picasso began working on sketches for a mural that was to become one of his most famous works. After the World’s Fair the mural was exhibited around the world to help raise consciousness on the threat of Fascism. Once WWII began the mural was housed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (though it made frequent trips abroad). Nelson A. Rockefeller had a large tapestry reproduction made of the famous mural, and donated it to the U.N. in 1985. The original mural is now housed in the Reina Sofia, Spain’s national museum of Modern Art.
On January 27, 2003, the Guernica reproduction hanging outside the entrance of the United Nations Security Council was covered with a large blue curtain. Press Secretary of the U.N., Fred Eckhard, said the covering provided “an appropriate background for the cameras.”Obviously some were concerned that Picasso’s antiwar masterwork would not make a good backdrop for speeches and press conferences advocating the bom…


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