Pablo Picasso had already accepted the commission to create a work for the Spanish Republican Pavilion at the Paris World Fair in 1937 when news broke of the bombing of the undefended Basque town of Gernika. The event was to inspire one of the best-known paintings in the history of western art. Endlessly reproduced, Guernica has always been the centre of controversy, its location politically charged, its imagery subjected to varied, often contradictory interpretations. For the first 44 years of its existence it remained outside Spain and its eventual arrival there was seen as a marker of the nation’s transition to democracy. In his illustrated talk James Attlee will trace the genesis, creation and complex afterlife of Guernica, its travels across Europe and the Americas and its impact on other artists from the 1930s to today. In 1937, Guernica sounded a warning; that warning, Attlee will argue, is just as relevant today.