Guernica In London

    In 1939, while Picasso’s Guernica was touring the world, in order to aide in the anti-fascist effort, it made a stop at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. The admission to the exhibition was a pair of boots to send to the suffering Spanish Republicans (“The Bloomberg Commission). The exhibition was wildly successful and played a major role in giving Whitechapel a reputation as a gallery of prominence and political importance. The gallery has recently undergone a major renovation and it reopened yesterday, May 5, 2009, featuring an exhibition commemorating Guernica (Basciano).

    The exhibition, entitled “The Nature of the Beast” by Polish artist, Goshka Macuga, features the famous tapestry replica of Guernica which resided in the United Nations building in New York for years and was involved in some controversy in 2003 when Colin Powell made a speech on weapons of mass destruction, directly in front of the tapestry, which was covered by a large blue curtain. In addition the tapestry, the exhibition includes literature and artifacts surrounding Guernica and it’s presentation at Whitechapel in 1939, and the war, which according to Whitechapel’s description of the exhibition, is in order to “provide a springboard for further narratives around this iconic image and connections between art, propaganda and war” (“The Bloomberg Commission”).

    This current exhibition, being covered internationally in the news, directly connects to my research thus far on Guernica. This Whitechapel exhibition uses the “iconic,” canonical role of Picasso’s piece and contrasts it with non-canonical images, like the tapestry, the Colin Powell debacle and archival material surrounding the piece, in order to extract the power and meaning that Guernica plays in representing the Spanish Civil War.

    For more information on the exhibition:

    • The Whitechapel Gallery:
    • El Pais:
    • The New York Times:

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