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Guernica tells its story

Images from the exhibition.
Images from the exhibition. / SUR
  • An exhibition in the Plaza de la Marina presents a series of archives collected on the 'Guernica's' trip around the world

Behind the powerful image of the 'Guernica' lies the story of 'one of the great nomads' of the twentieth century. This symbolic painting has travelled the world, provoking countless reactions and providing endless inspiration.

Despite its world-famous reputaion, the history behind the 'Guernica' is somewhat of a mystery. The exhibition 'Picasso. The journey of the Guernica', organised by Obra Social la Caixa, the bank's social branch, and the Reina Sofía Museum, hopes to bring to light the lost archives and present the lesser-known part of this influential work.

Carlos Martín, the curator of this exhibition, exlplains that "While the 'Guernica' itself cannot be moved for conservation reasons", the story that the painting generates can still be told anywhere. 'Picasso. The journey of the Guernica' is an exhibition with a twist. The hall itself is on wheels and can be moved from location to location, telling the story of this famous painting. Until 8 December the hall will be in Plaza de la Marina.

Inside the exhibition visitors travel alongside the painting through the journey it took around the world. The bombing that devastated Madrid is the starting point. The attack by the German Condor Legion, which was "suprisingly well documented", inspired Picasso to draw his first sketches of the 'Guernica'. Months before he had received a commission from the Government of the Republic to create a piece for the 1937 Paris Exposition. Picasso had been in a creative crisis; until the massacre.

"The painting is already there in some ways" says the curator, pointing to a screen where the sketches of the Malaga artist are displayed. Beside them, a large projection superimposes the photographs that Dora Maar, Picasso's partner at the time, had taken of his creative process.

After being the centre-piece in Paris, the 'Guernica' was returned to Picasso. Thereafter, it travelled to 40 destinations all over the world. Provoking many, varying reactions, Picasso's 'Guernica' is anything but one dimensional.

Moved for the last time in 1981 to the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid, the painting has now found its permanent home. While it may not travel the world anymore, through the inspiration it has provided throughout the years, the journey of the 'Guernica' continues.