MAN_Museo d'Arte Provincia di Nuoro

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Picasso and Guernica

Genesis of masterpiece. Against all wars

18.11.2022  -  19.02.2023

Curated by Michele Tavola

From 23 September to 31 December 1953, Guernica was exhibited in the Sala delle Cariatidi at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, together with more than 300 other works by the Spanish master, forming the largest Picasso retrospective ever held in Italy. The exhibition later moved to Rome, but on a smaller scale and above all without Guernica, which has never again returned to Italy. The Sala delle Cariatidi, which still bore signs of Second World War bombings when it hosted Picasso’s masterpiece, thus amplifying the work’s significance, also hosted other dramatic compositions that explicitly denounced the disasters of war, such as the Massacre in Korea and The Charnel House.

Guernica no longer travels today, never leaving Spain and its room at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. It will never again return to Paris, where it was created, commissioned by the Spanish Republican government for the 1937 Universal Exhibition, it will never again return to the MoMa in New York, where it spent much of its exile before returning to its homeland, and it will certainly never again return to Italy.

Seventy years on from the historic exhibition at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, the MAN in Nuoro is celebrating the time spent in Italy by Guernica, a work that is both symbolically and artistically fundamental for a generation of Italian artists, art critics and citizens.

The Nuoro tribute is divided into two main sections: Guernica’s echo in Picasso’s artistic production and the story of the genesis of the work through the visual account produced by Dora Maar, a photographer and the Spanish artist’s partner at the time.

The first section finds its main focus in the extraordinary diptych of engravings entitled Sueño y mentira de Franco, which acts as a graphic counterpart to the large painting. Picasso began engraving the first plate in January 1937 but soon abandoned the work. In May, just after the tragic bombing of the Basque town, he completed both matrices while he was working on the monumental canvas, using the same studies and ideas. However, it is by no means a smaller version of the painting, but an original invention in its own right, based on the same idea and the same creative impetus. A small but significant series of engravings, drawings and paintings would form around Sueño y mentira de Franco, either directly related to the development of Guernica or, because they were produced during the same period, closely recalling the style and themes of the famous painting.

The second section of the exhibition revolves around the extraordinary testimony of Dora Maar, who documented Picasso’s work day by day with her photographs. She took a series of shots that are both moving and fundamental to the philological reconstruction of Guernica’s creation. There will also be images taken by Mario Perroti during the Milan exhibition in 1953, in the touching venue of the Sala delle Cariatidi scarred by bombing raids, a tragic situation that convinced Picasso to exhibit his masterpiece in that setting so close to the meaning of the painting.

The ideal exhibition project could also include a small, extremely important section of preparatory drawings for Guernica, which would take the exhibition to the very highest levels, completing the narrative thanks to an exceptional loan on an anniversary that Italy is called upon to celebrate and that would be headed by the Museo MAN in Nuoro.





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