Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Guernica or Guernica y Luno (Basque Gernika-Lumo, pronounced like Gayr NEE ka or SAMPA [gernika]) is a small city in the Basque region of Spain that was the meeting place of the Biscayne assembly under an oak tree, the Gernikako Arbola, which was a symbol of traditional freedoms of the Basque people.

The city is best known as the scene of an early instance of aerial bombing by the German Luftwaffe (Condor Legion) on April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War. The Germans were attacking to support the efforts of Francisco Franco to overturn the Spanish Republican government. The town was devastated, though the Basque assembly and the Gernikako Arbola miraculously survived.

The Guernica estuary or Urdaibai is a Biosphere Reserve.

It is also home to the Gernika Jai Alai, one of the main courts for the jai alai sport.

Table of contents
1 The painting
2 See also
3 External links

The painting

"Guernica" is also the name of a famous painting by Pablo Picasso, depicting the bombing of Guernica. Picasso, asked by the Spanish Republican government to paint a picture to decorate the Spanish Pavilion during the 1937 World's Fair in Paris, created a Cubist painting depicting the event and called it Guernica.

Picasso's Guernica depicts people, animals, and buildings wrenched by the violence and chaos of the carpet bombing. This large canvas embodies for many the inhumanity, brutality and hopelessness of war, and the cruety of bombing civilians.

After the fair, when the Republican government had fallen, Picasso refused to allow this painting, one of his most famous, to be displayed in Spain until after the end of the Franco regime. It therefore spent many years on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, but was repatriated after Franco's death.

During the 1970s, it was a symbol for Spaniards of both the end of the Franco regime and Basque nationalism.

It is now in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. The exact location was controversial in Spain, since Picasso's will stated that the painting should be displayed at the Prado Museum. However, as in the late 20th century the Prado moved all of its collections of art after the early 19th century to other nearby buildings in the city for reasons of space, the Reina Sofía, which houses the capital's national collection of 20th century art, seems the appropriate place for it. A special gallery was built at the Reina Sofía to display Picasso's masterpiece to best advantage. Basque nationalists claimed that it should be brought to the Basque country, especially after the building of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum.

A tapestry copy of Picasso's Guernica is displayed on the wall of the United Nations building in New York City, at the entrance to the Security Council room. It was placed there as a reminder of the horrors of war. On January 27, 2003, a large blue curtain was placed to cover this work, so that it would not be visible in the background when Colin Powell and John Negroponte gave press conferences at the United Nations. On the following day, it was claimed that the curtain was placed there at the request of television news crews, who had complained that the wild lines and screaming figures made for a bad backdrop, and that a horse's hindquarters appeared just above the faces of any speakers. Diplomats, however, told journalists that they believed the United States leaned on UN officials to cover the tapestry, rather than have it in the background while Powell or other U.S. diplomats argued for war on Iraq.

See also

External links