The fiftieth anniversary of Guernica, and, therefore, Spain's participation in the Paris International Exhibition in 1937, forms the central motif of this exhibition in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. The display rebuilds the recollections of the Spanish Pavilion, a landmark for Spain's presence in international exhibitions and one of the finest pavilions of those in attendance at the exhibition in Paris. At the height of the Civil War, and in barely six months, the building was successfully opened, representing the determination of the Spanish people to make their complex reality visible to the world with a sample of one their finest cultural achievements.
Pablo Picasso (Malaga 1881 - Mougins, France, 1973) works with prints throughout his entire career, however the practice intensifies from the Thirties onwards. At this point he consolidates his language and a change of style can be seen, when he gives prominence to graphic aspects. In the aspect of Picasso as a print-maker an emphasis on issues related to classical literary tradition, or influences of it, appear, which are more prone to narrative. The painter’s theme and the model or the myth of Minotaur is then incorporated into the Picasso’s iconography; it appears on a recurring basis during his career and finds its parallels in painting.
The exhibition entitled El surrealismo en España (Surrealism in Spain) takes a look back at the output in Spain, between 1925 and the Civil War (1936-1939), of almost fifty artists. The period is defined by, or evolves alongside, French Surrealism. Lucía García de Carpi, the exhibit's joint curator with Josefina Alix, points to two factors that cause so-called Spanish Surrealism to gain so much importance. The first being that within the revival of avant-garde art, the artists start to take an active interest in what is being disseminated by the Surrealists in Paris, going beyond the mere receptive nature of European movements. The second involves an heterogeneous style in Spain in terms of language and conception. Their theoretical, literary, exhibiting and artistic approaches bring at least four locations into the spotlight: Madrid (the residency of students and “Telluric” Surrealists Alberto Sánchez and Benjamín Palencia), Catalunya (the ADLAN Group and Logicofobista Group), Tenerife (the setting for Gaceta del Arte, Óscar Domínguez and the International Surrealist Exhibition organisation in 1935) and Zaragoza (Tomas Seral y Casas and Alfonso Buñuel).
This exhibition presents an approach to the evolution of the surrealist movement in the context of the exile and emigration of most of its members to the United States which happened following the German occupation of France. During the period encompassed in the exhibition, artists such as André Breton, André Masson, Max Ernst, Roberto Matta and Wilfredo Lam contact American artistic groups and meet the young artists that a few years later, play an important role in the renewal of American art.
The work Guernica(1937) by Pablo Picasso (Málaga 1881 - Mougins, France, 1973) arrives in Spain in 1981 from The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the place where it had been housed since 1939. Few events mark such a watershed in Spain's political transition; thus Picasso's wish that the canvas - commissioned in the middle of the Civil War by the Government of the Republic for the Spanish Pavilion in the Universal Exhibition in Paris, 1937 - be returned to Spanish soil once the country recovered political freedom was fulfilled.
The exhibition Pity and Terror in Picasso, opening at the Museo Reina Sofía in April 2017, 80 years after Guernica’s first showing, will have the great mural at its heart. It will look again at Picasso’s depiction of modern warfare – war from the air, death from a distance, aimed at the destruction of whole populations – and the special kinds of agony, bewilderment, and terror such warfare brings with it.