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.
The exhibition offers extensive information on the 1,100 square-metre building designed by the architects Luis Lacasa and José Luis Sert and also includes two scale models, one built for the occasion, that provide the most detailed information available.
Other works by Pablo Picasso are also exhibited alongside these models: his sculptures La Dama Oferente (1933), La Bañista (1931) and Cabeza de mujer (1931) as well as his etchings Sueño y Mentira de Franco (1937) and a series of drawings related to Guernica (1937). They are also accompanied by La Montserrat (1937) by Julio González and Fuente de Mercurio (1937) by Alexander Calder, originally conceived to show the production of Spanish mercury in the mines of Almadén, which, for the first time since 1937, uses the liquid metal again.
Along with these works, others by José Gutiérrez Solana, Alberto Sánchez, Horacio Ferrer, Rodríguez Luna, Ramón Gaya, Miguel Prieto and Ramón Puyol have been recovered, and the exhibit is completed with a selection of Basque paintings from artists such as Aurelio Arteta, Julián de Tellaeche, Darío de Regoyos, Ramón de Zubiaurre, José Arrúe and Bernardino Bienabe. They are also accompanied by some of the traditional suits from the Museo del Pueblo Español worn in Paris, which originally made up part of the folk art section, together with a collection of ceramics and numerous photos, informational panels and explanatory photomontages.
Part of the collection of pieces that were thought to be lost in the storage facilities of the Palacio Nacional de Montjuic after 1938 are also displayed here; therefore, the State Collections and the history of Spanish art occupy an uncharted space - Civil War art, of irrefutable interest to analyse the development of Spain's avant-garde art prior to 1936 and its transformation into politically active realism demanded by the times. All of these aspects in the exhibition combine to relive the environment Guernica was created in during the spring of 1937 as it was commissioned by the Government of the Second Republic.
A documentary concludes all the information on this indelible chapter in Spain's history as it narrates the series of events from 1934, with France's invitation to become part of the International Exhibition, to 12 July 1937 when the Spanish Pavilion is opened. Almost two months after the official inauguration of the Exhibition, and under difficult circumstances, the Pavilion manages to open to the public, going down in history as a great achievement and example of the spirit of the Spanish people. This, along with the excellent standard of the content on display, is honoured in the exhibition.
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