My earlier notes suggest that Picasso looked at Michelangelo’s Fall of Phaeton and used the same theme at dead center in his 1937 Guernica . The “Fall” of Hitler and Goering covertly depicted at dead center in Guernica is thus clearly understandable: Picasso’s purpose was to identify and punish Hitler and Goering for their denial of responsibility regarding the bombing of the town of Guernica.
Not so clearly understandable: twenty-one years later, in 1958, Picasso painted a mural for the United Nations’ UNESCO building in Paris. Picasso never explained why but openly used The Fall of Icarus theme for his mural at UNESCO. Certainly the Phaeton and Icarus themes in mythology are similar: both end tragically with a fall. All those involved at UNESCO were understandably baffled and nonplussed by Picasso’s choice of Icarus for their mural. Conjecture: Picasso in the UNESCO mural used the Icarus theme to admonish the UNESCO officials that to be successful, to avoid failure such as the fall that befell Icarus, the UNESCO officials must set aside their biased national and intra-national agendas and treat all of suffering humanity fairly.