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Nico Israel on artists on the Iraqi front

DURING THE NAZI OCCUPATION of Paris in the early 1940s, Picasso’s atelier at 7 rue des Grands-Augustins was regularly visited by Gestapo agents in search of inflammatory material and hidden Jews. Once, an officer noticed a sketch of Guernica pinned to a wall, and he asked the artist, “Was it you who made this?” Picasso replied succinctly, “No, it was you.”

Whether or not the anecdote is true—Picasso supposedly told it to a Newsweek reporter shortly after the liberation of Paris—it reveals a great deal about the art of war. Picasso had never visited the Basque town of Guernica y Luno; he learned about the Franquista atrocities from newspaper reports and photographs. For that matter, despite adamant assertions to the contrary (“yo lo vi”), Goya, whose “Disasters of War” etchings have recently been clown- and puppy-(de)faced by the shrilly naughty Chapman brothers, never actually witnessed

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