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PostPicasso's "Guernica"; Ilya Ehrenburg (Boris Volodarsky, Austria, 04/08/13 2:27 pm)
On "Guernica," the Republican Government commissioned a mural for the Spanish Pavilion of the International Exposition dedicated to Art and Technology in Modern Art in January 1937. In his studio on the Rue des Grands Augustins in Paris, Picasso sketched preliminary drawings for the mural that would eventually become known as Guernica on 1 May--the largest May Day demonstration in that city's history. For about 10 days the painter was drawing compositional studies for the mural, and on 11 May he approached the canvas for the first time.
The first photograph taken by Dora Maar, a French photographer, poet, painter and Picasso's mistress (during that year he painted her portrait, seated), whom he met in January 1936, shows the raised arm and clenched fist of the Spanish Republic. The work was finished between 4 and 10 June. Picasso himself delivered it to the Spanish Pavilion. Ilya Ehrenburg, the Soviet writer who was probably the first of the Soviets to visit Spain in 1931 and who knew Picasso for over six decades, recalled that when asked about his approach to art Picasso used to say: "[The Impressionists] wanted to show the world as they saw it. It doesn't excite me. I want to depict the world in such a way as I imagine it."
JE comments: I've always been intrigued by the figure of Ilya Ehrenburg, who managed to be in the thick of all things Soviet yet somehow survived Stalinism and lived to a relatively old age. (He died in 1967.) IE was one of the Argentine writer Elías Castelnuovo's "handlers" during his visit to the USSR in 1931.
Perhaps Boris Volodarsky might be able to shed light on Ehrenburg's longevity in such difficult times.