Of all the great paintings in the world, Picasso's Guernica has had a more direct impact on our consciousness than perhaps any other. In this absorbing and revealing book, Gijs van Hensbergen tells the story of this masterpiece. Starting with its origin in the destruction of the Basque town of Gernika in the Spanish Civil War, the painting is then used as a weapon in the propaganda battle against Fascism. Later it becomes the nucleus of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the detonator for the Big Bang of Abstract Expressionism in the late 1940s. This tale of passion and politics shows the transformation of this work of art into an icon of many meanings, up to its long contested but eventually triumphant return to Spain in 1981.
'Enthralling ... This is high-action drama, told like the rest within a huge frame of reference, theme interlocked with theme ... A painting which began its life within a particular political context has emerged as a universal statement on the ever-present horror and suffering of war. Van Hensbergen has treated an extraordinary subject admirably' Evening Standard 'Brilliant' Observer 'Hensbergen shows how the history of art, world events and the drama of Picasso's own life came together on the canvas ... This is a fascinating biography, very gracefully handled' Miranda France, Daily Telegraph 'This is a dramatic story with all the twists and turns of a political thriller, all the danger of an action adventure, and all the sexual intrigue of a romantic novel. A racy narrative is combined with the fruits of encyclopaedic research' Sunday Herald