Guernica, a testimony and condemnation of the bombing by Franco's forces of the Basque town of the same name is considered a foundational work of 20th century art and it continues to be a universal symbol of the struggle against oppression. Its arrival in Madrid in September of 1981 was presented as the symbolic conclusion of Spain's transition to democracy following the dictatorship. The complicated diplomatic negotiations undertaken to bring about the painting's move were also the first important steps in cultural policy to be taken by the country's new government, and they highlighted the role that avant-garde art would play in the official culture of Spain's young democracy. With its arrival, it ceased to be the emblem of dissidence against the dictatorship and became the symbol of the healing of the fracture between the two historical factions in Spain: a sign of the reconciliation upon which the new democratic society would be based.
Historical and political implications of Guernica's arrival in Spain in 1981
Juan Pablo Fusi, Doctor Honoris Causa Humanities by New York University and Professor of Contemporary History at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid since 1988. His research interests revolve around Spanish contemporary history and, particularly, the formation of the contemporary Basque Country.
Santos Juliá, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Social History and Political Thought of the Spanish National University of Distance Education. He is the author of numerous works on the social and political history of 20th-century Spain and on the field of historiography. He has also been a political columnist for the newspaper El País since 1994.
Josefina Cuesta Professor of Contemporary History at the Universidad de Salamanca. Most of her work focuses on the social history of Spain during the 20th century.
Moderator: Javier Moreno Luzón, Professor of the History of Ideas and of Social and Political Movements at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and expert in the political life of Spain under the Restoration.
Guernica, from New York to Madrid: diplomatic steps and technical issues
Álvaro Martinez Novillo, expert adviser of the Directorate General of Historical Patrimony of the regional government of Madrid. From 1978 to 1981 he was the Deputy Director General of Visual Arts of the Ministry of Culture, and he participated personally in bringing about Guernica's move to Spain.
José Lladó, Chair of the Asociación Colección de Arte Contemporáneo. He has a PhD in chemical sciences and industrial chemistry. In the early years of the Spanish democracy, he served as Minister of Transport and Communication, Minister of Trade and as Spain's Ambassador in the United States. He later became the first chair of the Board of Governors of what was then called the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
Genoveva Tusell, has a PhD in Art History and is Professor of Art History at the Spanish National University of Distance Education. Her research interests include Spanish art during the Franco period and the relationship between Picasso and this historical period.
Moderator: Jesús Carrillo, is the director of the Department of Cultural Programs at Museo Reina Sofía and also a professor in the Department of Art History and Theory at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. He combines study of the Spanish Empire and its representations in the early modern period with the critical analysis of contemporary art and culture.