When in 1955/1956, for the first time in divided postwar Germany, a major Picasso exhibition took place in Munich, Cologne, and Hamburg, it came to be a cultural event that reached and emotionalized the German audience, media, and sciences to an unprecedented extent. The exhibition Picasso 1900 – 1955 contributed significantly to the popularization of Picasso at all levels of society and gave the German people access to modern art on a much wider scale than the first documenta held concurrently in Kassel. The undisputed eye-catcher of that spectacular exhibit was Guernica, on display in Germany for the first and only time. Its controversial reception reveals that at that time there was no intention to see the work in Germany in a memorial relationship with Germany’s own historical responsibility. Thus it virtually functioned as a symbol for a collective amnesia of the West German postwar society, whereas the socialist East of the Republic stylized the painting into an anti-fascist icon.
© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston