The famous 11ft x 25.5ft oil on canvas 'Guernica' painting by Pablo Picasso hanging in Madrid's Museo Reina Sofia is to be turned into 276 separate smaller works with each one then being sold off at auction.
The museum believes that by turning Guernica into 276 miniatures will make the overall auction price of the painting significantly more than by selling it off as one piece.
The idea to turn Picasso's Guernica into lots of smaller individual works of art was suggested to the museum by 62 year old East Londoner Harry Barnet from Dalston. Harry, a picture framer by trade, was on a week's sightseeing trip to Madrid last week, had been taking a casual stroll around the Spanish capital, came across the museum and so decided to go in to spend an hour or so taking a look at the various works of art on display. Explains Harry,
"I was just standing in front ov the oil painting and finking to meself 'ow much time it must 'ave taken ol' Picasso to do the bleedin' fing like, and 'ow 'e mustuv 'ad a problem afterwards findin' someone t' buy it 'cause you'd need t' find someone wiv a bloody big wall at home to 'ang it on like.'
'So then bein' a picture framer I starts t' work out 'ow many smaller paintings ol' Pablo coulda turned it into so's t' make 'em easier t' flog. So I'm standin' there makin' these square shapes in front ov me wiv me 'ands tryin' t' work out the amount of pictures yer could get and the cost ov puttin' 'em inter decent frames. That's when Alfonso taps me on me shoulder curious t' know why I'm makin' these square shapes wiv me 'ands. 'Good morning Sir,' he says,'Ex-cuse me for interruptin you. My name is Alfonso and I'm a dirsctor of this museum' he says, 'and I just happened to notice you making lots of little square shapes with your hands. It's just that I've never seen anyone doing that before when admiring one of our paintings. Would you be kind enough to explain why you do that?'.
'So I explained to Alfonso how I'm a picture framer and how Mr Picasso could have found it a lot easier to sell 'is paintings if he'd cut 'em down into lots of little pictures to sell so people would be able to find a nice spot for 'em on the walls of their homes like. Yer could still do it wiv this one I says, just chop it up inter little squares, stick 'em in fancy little frames, 'n' bob's yer uncle."
'It'd be a bit controversial, not everyone in the art world would be too happy about it', he says.
'Sod 'em, I says, it's your museum's painting so you can do what the bloody hell you want t' do wiv it. You could wipe yer bum on it and they couldn't do anyfing abaat it. Business is business, Alfonso I says, cut the fing down inter little square pictures, then just frame 'n flog the bleedin' fings before other museums cotton on t' the idea n start doin' the same fings wiv their big paintings and causing the price of 'em t' come down.'
'It is a bit too big as it is,' says he, 'I could kick myself for not having thought of your idea myself in the past.'
'Well, I replies, I s'pose it takes the eye of a picture framer t' see the potential that's there in these big museum works of art. Says to 'im, I says the only places t' 'ang a big one like this Guernica on would be the wall ov a museum or a bloody big mansion wiv a big wall I says, and those kinda people wiv big mansions already 'ave pictures of their ancestors fillin' up their walls. By keepin' it this size, I says, you're not gonna find a big demand fer it out there and that's bound to affect the price. Turn it inter sizes more hangable for the average person's wall 'nd they'll be fightin' over 'em at the auction I says, wiv each one goin' for a bomb.'
'I could see the old three bells lightin' up in 'is eyes and goin' ding-dong like. Says to 'im, I says I'd be only too 'appy to sort out the framin', 'cause yer need someone who knows what they're doin' when it comes t' framin' a picture I says. Tells 'im, I says mostly it's the frame that sells the picture anyway. They'd need t' be in decent frames, I says, and a decent frame don't come cheap, but they'd more than pay for themselves by the price people will pay for a picture if it's in a nice frame. Stick 'em in a cheap frame and you'd end up throwin' 'em all away in yer dustbin I says.'
'Oh, I understand that, he says. So anyways, I 'anded 'im me card wiv me phone number and Alfonso phoned me Sat'dee ar'ernoon sayin' t' fly out t' Madrid t'wards the end ov next week then get t' work on the framin'. It's gonna cost 'im mind 'cause it don't come cheap if yer wanna good job dun likes I does.'
The cutting down of Guernica begins next Monday, then after the framing is completed by Harry the finished 276 miniatures should be ready to go off to auction around the end of August. There is sure to be big demand for the miniature framed pieces containing the signature of Picasso.
Explains Harry, "That was my suggestion. Alfonso was goin' t' keep it intact and sell it all as one piece, but I said to 'im, I said as one complete signature it would probably go for the biggest price of them all, but as several separate paintings containing one letter of the signature in each one the price of the set would set you up fer life."