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Wednesday, February 05, 2003

What a Cover-Up
So, the good folks at the United Nations have taken to covering up the U.N. headquarters’ copy of Picasso’s masterwork “Guernica” whenever folks are discussing whether or not to declare war on Iraq. As Maureen Dowd put it in this morning’s New York Times, “Mr. Powell can't very well seduce the world into bombing Iraq surrounded on camera by shrieking and mutilated women, men, children, bulls and horses.”

The first time I lived in Madrid, back in 1983 or ’84, “Guernica” was a regular part of our Sunday morning routine. Before they finished the special room of the Museo Reina Sofia, the painting was housed in the Cason de Buen Retiro, and I think entrance was free. (We didn’t have much dosh at the time, so I can’t imagine we would have visited quite so often if we’d had to pay.) The routine was a lingering breakfast in Chueca (then a hippy hash zone, now a booming gay mecca), a stroll in the Retiro, then a peek at shrieking and mutilated women, men, children, bulls, and horses. (Actually, in some ways my favorite bit of the display were the various sketches and drawings—there’s something so intimate about looking at someone’s early drafts.)

I’m sure there must’ve been some barrier between the crowds and the painting back in its temporary home, but in its current permanent residence, there’s a monster wall of glass that, while perfectly understandable, makes for a pretty crappy “user experience.”

Cracking piece of art, though!