In the late fifties my parents purchased a 1956 edition of the American Peoples Encyclopedia. I vaguely remember their being stressed about affording the encyclopedias, since my family had just moved into a home my father built himself, and we didn’t have much money left over, even for furniture. Despite his trepidations over the purchase price, my father carefully measured and built a bookcase for the encyclopedias so they would be safely stored until their future use. One day, when I was about three or four years old, I pulled down one of the books, opened it, and saw an image of Picasso’s anti-war masterpiece, Guernica (1939).
At that time I had no idea what I was looking at, but when I saw the image, a painting that expressed the collateral damage of the Spanish Civil War in one Basque town as an abstracted event, I was mesmerized. Right then and there, I knew on some deep level that I was face to face with a most significant and meaningful picture, not only based on the feeling I got from it, but that it was found in one of those very important books that seemed to both disturb and enhance my family’s lives. Later, I must have visited that painting, then located at the Museum of Modern Art, at least twenty times before it was sent back to Spain in 1981. I cherished every moment I spent with that painting, as it taught me so much about the power of art.(more…)