“His most important picture”

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Picasso was commissioned to create a mural for the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris World Fair in 1937, and subsequently, upon the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica on April 27, 1937, he found his subject (Fisch 13). At the close of the Paris World’s Fair in 1938, Guernica embarked upon a world tour spreading awareness of the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War, until it landed in New York at the Museum of Modern Art, where it was safe, and remained during WWII, until 1981 (13).”

To arrange things after his death, Picasso had left a document with a notary to the effect that Guernica should not be taken to his homeland, Spain, until a stable, democratic government was installed there. This is the only will Picasso ever made; not even to settle his enormous fortune did he leave a will. This is strong evidence for believing that Picasso regarded Guernica as “his most important picture” (14).

While this reverence for Guernica is not universal, Picasso recognized his work’s intrinsic power and the legacy it would carry and present long after his time. Also, his instructions to return the piece to Spain only when its political state had been stabilized, seem to denote that he wanted Guernica to be a sort of gift to be delivered “home” at a time for celebration. Subsequently this gift is displayed publicly in Spain as a reminder of the tragedies of the Spanish Civil War, something which was ignored for years. It is almost as if Picasso knew that the War was something which would have to fight for its proper recognition and Guernica was his attempt at a proper homage.


Works CitedFisch, Eberhard. Guernica by Picasso. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1988.

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