Price of Admission to See La Guernica at the Whitechapel Gallery: a Pair of Boots

Bullet Shih Feb, 2012 0
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With the opening of the blockbuster exhibition Picasso and Modern British Art at the Tate, all kind of interesting anecdotes have been provided.  Lucy Davies at the Telegraph has written an interesting piece on the monumental painting by Picasso, La Guernica  illustrating the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War.  The esteemed painting is quite well traveled and art shipping over the past 75 years was not exactly as it is today.  Davies writes,

Over its 75-year history, it has been rolled and unrolled, stretched, nailed up, pulled down, driven, shipped and flown, all in the service of a cause. Creases and cracks mark its surface; its four corners are littered with puncture marks tracing the life it’s led.

The painting arrived in Britain in 1938 as the brainchild of friend and biographer of Picasso, Roland Penrose.  His concept was to raise awareness and funds for the rebels fighting Franco.  Amazingly, it was nailed to the wall of a disused car showroom by a group of students in Manchester.  The painting still bears those scars.  At its final stop a the Whitechapel Gallery in East London those who could not pay the admission to see the painting were allowed to donate a pair of boots.  David Hockney’s father was one of those donors.

With such a storied history, someone should make a movie about the painting, and maybe cast Antonio Banderas as Picasso?

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