When San Sebastián was named European Capital of Culture for 2016, it was seen as a unique occasion to explore a series of major Basque artists, including Jorge Oteiza (1908-2003), Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002), Néstor Basterretxea (1924-2014), Amable Arias (1927-1984), Remigio Mendiburu (1931-1992), José Antonio Sistiaga (1932), Rafael Balerdi (1934-1992) and José Luis Zumeta (1939). In 1966 they came together to set up the Gaur group, featuring artists from the province of Gipuzkoa. Gaur premiered at the city's Barandiarán gallery accompanied by a manifesto and an exhibition.
2016 sees the 50th anniversary of the exhibition, which set the seal on one of the most important ventures in modern Spanish art. To mark the occasion a major central exhibition has been organized at the San Telmo Museum (22/01/16-15/05/16), to which the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is contributing with a selection of fifty or so works by the eight Gaur group artists now in its collection.
Peace Treaty is a multi-disciplinary project including exhibitions, contemporary art productions, publications, seminars and lectures focusing on representations of peace over the centuries in art, culture and law. Besides the central exhibition, 1516-2016: Peace Treaties (staged in tandem at the San Telmo Museum and the Koldo Mitxelena Art Centre in San Sebastián) involves a further seven "case studies" of historical events. One of the star attractions at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is a show curated by art historian Valentín Roma which takes Picasso's Guernica as its theme.
The exhibition comprises three sections: one is Picasso and Guernica, another the 1937 Spanish Pavilion and the third, the painting's influence on other artists of the time. Section one covers the process that eventually produced Guernica, from Picasso's preliminary drawings and oil paintings to the photographsDora Maar took of the work as it evolved in the painter's Paris studio. Part two reconstructs the context surrounding the painting's premiere, including the architecture of the Spanish Pavilion, several works accompanying the painting and contemporary views and curios relating to the Spanish participation in the 1937 International Exposition. The final section features works by international artists working under the influence of Guernica, whether in homage or dialogue, or as a consequence of the three tours which took the painting around a number of European and American cities to collect funds for the Spanish Refugee Aid Committee. One consequence of the painting's travels was a celebration of Picasso at New York's MoMA, the great museum of modernity; a group of works that paid homage to Guernicaand, finally, the paradox of the political and civil use of the acclaimed work, which, despite narrating the barbarities of war, became a worldwide pacifist icon.