||When the World Fair ended, the Republicans sent Guernica on an international tour to create awareness of the atrocities perpetrated by the Fascists. According to art historian, Patricia Failing: "Picasso's friends and colleagues in Paris were very impressed by the power of the painting. Because it was a painting by Picasso, and because it was also something that connected with a very dramatic event, the idea of sending Guernica on tour for the cause, basically as propaganda and fund-raising, seemed to be a reasonable sort of idea."
While the war continued in Spain, the painting traveled to Scandinavia, England and London, where the price of admission was a pair of used boots for the poorly equipped Republican troops. But in March of 1939, Madrid fell to the Nationalists, and Franco claimed victory over the Spanish Republic. Although Picasso intended that the mural ultimately reside in Spain, he refused to allow Guernica to go home as long as Franco ruled: "The painting will be turned over to the government of the Spanish Republic the day the Republic is restored in Spain!"
In September, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, bringing to bear the experience of bombing the town of Guernica in London and Stalingrad. Fearing for the safety of the painting in Paris under Nazi occupation, Picasso made a long-term loan of the mural to New York's Museum of Modern Art, and Guernica joined the ranks of refugees. As the war engulfed the world, the Allies bombed Dresden, Berlin, and Hiroshima... and Picasso's disturbing vision became a reality.
"It's not so much that there was an enormous body of sympathy for Picasso's Communist sentiments, but certainly there was an enormous body of sympathy for the anti-Fascist sentiments that were at the heart of the Guernica project. So it did work as a reasonably effective fundraising tool, although it certainly didn't raise enough money to support the army of Republican Spain."
For the next nineteen years the canvas toured the United States and around the globe, returning to New York in 1958.
In its travels, Guernica became the most talked-about painting in the world, continuing to evoke vigorous debate about its political intentions, cultural meanings and aesthetic value.
In a surprisingly ironic turn, Franco launched a campaign in 1968 for repatriation of the painting, assuring Picasso that the Spanish Government had no objection to the controversial subject matter. One can only imagine how incredulous Picasso must have been. Through his lawyers, Picasso turned the offer down flat, making it clear that Guernica would be turned over only when democracy and public liberties were restored to Spain.
"The last visit that Picasso ever made to Spain was in 1934, and he had vowed never to return until Franco died," says Failing. "Unfortunately, Franco happened to outlive him by a couple of years. So he never went back to Spain after 1934, even though his family was there and he maintained a very strong affection for Spanish life and Spanish culture. So Guernica had this really unique relationship with Picasso and his life; in a way it was his alter ego..."
In 1981, after years of elaborate negotiations involving Spain, the United States, MOMA and several contentious heirs to Picasso's estate, Guernica finally arrived on Spanish soil for the first time.