Picasso’s anti-war tapestry Guernica returns to the U.N.

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Picasso’s anti-war tapestry Guernica returns to the U.N.

Picasso's "Guernica" tapestry was displayed at United Nations headquarters in New York for decades. Here it is seen on loan to the Whitechapel Gall

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Picasso’s “Guernica” tapestry was displayed at United Nations headquarters in New York for decades. Here it is seen on loan to the Whitechapel Gallery in London in 2009.Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Pablo Picasso’s powerful anti-war artwork “Guernica,” removed from U.N. headquarters in New York in February 2021, was returned to the wall outside the U.N. Security Council on Saturday –  as a long-term loan by Nelson A. Rockefeller, Jr., whose family has been the longtime steward of the tapestry.

“The Guernica tapestry with its probing symbolism – its depiction of horrific aspects of human nature – wrestles with the cruelty, darkness, and also a seed of hope within humanity” Rockefeller said about the artwork named after the city in Spain that was bombed by the Nazis during the Spanish Civil War.

The U.N. said that the tapestry would donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which will “handle coordinating its display at other venues in the United States and across the globe.”

The land on which U.N. headquarters in New York was built was donated in 1946 by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Guernica was commissioned in 1955 by Nelson Rockefeller and placed on the U.N. wall in 1984, only absent between 2009 and 2013 when the U.N. was renovated.

Stephen Schlesinger, a fellow at the Century Foundation who wrote a book about the founding of the United Nations, said that the Rockefeller family commissioned the Guernica tapestry after Picasso refused to sell them the original painting.

Negotiations to return the iconic tapestry went on last year as U.N. officials urged the Rockefeller family to return the tapestry to the place where it is seen every day around the world.

“The tapestry sends a strong message about the horrors of war. It sends a strong message to the world about the urgent need to advance peace, to advance security and to advance human fraternity,” U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told CBS News on Saturday.

“It’s horrible, horrible, that it is gone,” Secretary General António Guterres told CBS News exclusively at the time it was taken down last February.

The powerful 15-nation Security Council is currently grappling with the Russia – Ukraine conflict, missiles launched by North Korea and the global impact of the COVID19 pandemic.

“We will be very careful stewards of this unique and iconic work,” Dujarric said.

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