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.
Twenty-five years on, the Museo Nacional del Prado, which received the painting first, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, which has current custody of the work, join forces to collectively celebrate this anniversary in a year that also commemorates one hundred and twenty-five years since the artist's birth.
This exhibition offers a journey through over one hundred master pieces by the Spanish artist and is as momentous as the other significant retrospectives devoted to Picasso in recent years. Consequently, works from museums and collections come together and are presented, by and large, for the first time in Spain, as is the case with Tres músicos (1921), exhibited in Europe on only two previous occasions.
The result is a one-off exhibition that traverses the rooms of the largest museums in Spain. Every phase of the painter's oeuvre is represented in the exhibition, which starts in the Museo del Prado as it displays a group of Picasso's master pieces flanked by works from the old masters in its Central Gallery. In turn, the Museo Reina Sofía bases its exhibition on Guernica (1937) and Picasso's artistic response to the dramatic turn of political events that unfolded at the time. The work compiles the main elements of his artistic evolution and represents a universal icon condemning all catastrophes of war.
Picasso's immense canvas is joined by Francisco de Goya's emblematic work El 3 de mayo de 1808. Los fusilamientos de la montaña de Príncipe Pío (1814), from the Museo del Prado. As a result, a fruitful dialogue is held between two of the most resounding images on the innocent suffering that takes place in any war. Furthermore, the collection of composition studies for Guernica (1937) are displayed, as well as Monumento a los españoles muertos por Francia (1946-1947), representing Picasso's profound commitment to conveying the horrors of war.