Over 1, civilians perished in the world's first sustained aerial bombardment of a civilian population. News of the massacre reached Paris where Picasso was living. Newspapers were filled with photographs of the smoldering ruins of Guernica, and after having seen those photos Picasso began working on sketches for a mural that was to become one of his most famous works. After the World's Fair the mural was exhibited around the world to help raise consciousness on the threat of Fascism. Nelson A. Rockefeller had a large tapestry reproduction made of the famous mural, and donated it to the U.
On January 27, , the Guernica reproduction hanging outside the entrance of the United Nations Security Council was covered with a large blue curtain. Press Secretary of the U. Continue reading this essay Continue reading. Toggle navigation MegaEssays. Saved Essays. Topics in Paper. Example Essays. Most inhabitants were away because of a holiday; a majority of the rest left town immediately at the beginning [of the bombardment]. A small number perished in shelters that were hit. Other accounts state that Guernica's inhabitants were congregated in the center of town, as it was market day, and when the bombardment started they were unable to escape because the roads were full of debris and the bridges leading out of town had been destroyed.
Guernica was 10 kilometers from the front lines and between the front lines and Bilbao, the capital of Bizkaia Biscay , and any Republican retreat towards Bilbao or any Nationalist advance towards Bilbao had to pass through it. The following day, Richthofen wrote in his war diary, "Guernica burning. Guernica was a quiet village. The nearest military target of any consequence was a factory on its outskirts which manufactured various war products and went through the attack unscathed.
Thus, the attack was widely condemned as a terror bombing. Because a majority of Guernica's men were away, fighting on behalf of the Republicans, at the time of the bombing the town was populated mostly by women and children. As Rudolf Arnheim writes, for Picasso: "The women and children make Guernica the image of innocent, defenseless humanity victimized.
Also, women and children have often been presented by Picasso as the very perfection of mankind. An assault on women and children is, in Picasso's view, directed at the core of mankind. The Times journalist George Steer , a Basque and Republican sympathizer, propelled this event onto the international scene and brought it to Pablo Picasso's attention. Steer wrote:. Guernica, the most ancient town of the Basques and the centre of their cultural tradition, was completely destroyed yesterday afternoon by insurgent air raiders. The bombardment of this open town far behind the lines occupied precisely three hours and a quarter, during which a powerful fleet of aeroplanes consisting of three types of German types, Junkers and Heinkel bombers, did not cease unloading on the town bombs weighing from 1, lbs.
The fighters, meanwhile, plunged low from above the centre of the town to machinegun those of the civilian population who had taken refuge in the fields.
A German officer allegedly asked him, upon seeing a photo of Guernica in Picasso's apartment, "Did you do that? Guernica was painted using a matte house paint specially formulated at Picasso's request to have the least possible gloss.
Essay Guernica by Pablo Picasso -- Guernica Picasso Painting Essays
Apart from their documentary and publicity value, Maar's photographs "helped Picasso to eschew color and give the work the black-and-white immediacy of a photograph", according to art historian John Richardson. Picasso, who rarely allowed strangers into his studio to watch him work, admitted influential visitors to observe his progress on Guernica , believing that the publicity would help the antifascist cause. My whole life as an artist has been nothing more than a continuous struggle against reaction and the death of art.
How could anybody think for a moment that I could be in agreement with reaction and death?
In the panel on which I am working, which I shall call Guernica , and in all my recent works of art, I clearly express my abhorrence of the military caste which has sunk Spain in an ocean of pain and death. Picasso worked on the painting for 35 days, and finished it on 4 June The scene occurs within a room where, on the left, a wide-eyed bull stands over a grieving woman holding a dead child in her arms. In the center of the room a horse falls in agony with a large gaping hole in its side, as if it had just been run through by a spear or javelin. The horse appears to be wearing chain mail armor, decorated with vertical tally marks arranged in rows.
A dead and dismembered soldier lies under the horse. The hand of his severed right arm grasps a shattered sword, from which a flower grows. The open palm of the soldier's left hand contains a stigmata, a symbol of martyrdom derived from the stigmata of Christ. A bare light bulb in the shape of an eye blazes over the suffering horse's head. To the horse's upper right a frightened female figure appears to have floated into the room through a window, and witnesses the scene.
She carries a flame-lit lamp, and holds it near the bare bulb.
Critical Analysis - Picasso's Guernica Essay
From the right, below the floating figure, an awe-struck woman staggers towards the center, looking into the blazing light bulb with a blank stare. Daggers that suggest screaming have replaced the tongues of the horse, the bull, and the grieving woman. A dove is scribed on the wall behind the bull, part of its body comprising a crack in the wall through which bright light shines.
On the far right another woman, her arms raised in terror, is entrapped by fire from above and below. Her right hand suggests the shape of an airplane. A dark wall with an open door defines the right side of the room. Interpretations of Guernica vary widely and contradict one another. This extends, for example, to the mural's two dominant elements: the bull and the horse.
Art historian Patricia Failing said, "The bull and the horse are important characters in Spanish culture. Picasso himself certainly used these characters to play many different roles over time. This has made the task of interpreting the specific meaning of the bull and the horse very tough.
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Their relationship is a kind of ballet that was conceived in a variety of ways throughout Picasso's career. If you give a meaning to certain things in my paintings it may be very true, but it is not my idea to give this meaning.
What ideas and conclusions you have got I obtained too, but instinctively, unconsciously. I make the painting for the painting. I paint the objects for what they are. In The Dream and Lie of Franco , a series of narrative sketches Picasso also created for the World's Fair, Franco is depicted as a monster that first devours his own horse and later does battle with an angry bull.
Extract of sample "Picasso's Guernica"
Work on these illustrations began before the bombing of Guernica, and four additional panels were added, three of which relate directly to the Guernica mural. According to scholar Beverly Ray, the following list of interpretations reflects the general consensus of historians: "The shape and posture of the bodies express protest"; "Picasso uses black, white, and grey paint to set a somber mood and express pain and chaos"; "flaming buildings and crumbling walls not only express the destruction of Guernica, but reflect the destructive power of civil war"; "the newspaper print used in the painting reflects how Picasso learned of the massacre"; "The light bulb in the painting represents the sun"; and "The broken sword near the bottom of the painting symbolizes the defeat of the people at the hand of their tormentors".
Alejandro Escalona said, "The chaos unfolding seems to happen in closed quarters provoking an intense feeling of oppression. There is no way out of the nightmarish cityscape. The absence of color makes the violent scene developing right before your eyes even more horrifying.
Guernica, Picasso 1937
The blacks, whites, and grays startle you—especially because you are used to see war images broadcast live and in high-definition right to your living room. In his chef d'oeuvre , Picasso seems to be trying to define his role and his power as an artist in the face of political power and violence. But far from being a mere political painting, Guernica should be seen as Picasso's comment on what art can actually contribute towards the self-assertion that liberates every human being and protects the individual against overwhelming forces such as political crime, war, and death.
Guernica was unveiled and initially exhibited in July at the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris International Exposition. The Pavilion, which was financed by the Spanish Republican government at the time of civil war, was built to exhibit the Spanish government's struggle for existence contrary to the Exposition's technology theme. The Pavilion's entrance presented an enormous photographic mural of Republican soldiers accompanied by the slogan:.
At Guernica ' s Paris Exhibition unveiling it garnered little attention. The public's reaction to the painting was mixed. Picasso also writes our letter of doom: all that we love is going to be lost Guernica , for which Picasso was paid , francs for his costs by the Spanish Republican government, was one of the few major paintings that Picasso did not sell directly to his exclusive contracted art dealer and friend, Paul Rosenberg. The tour's main attraction was Guernica. It then travelled to Leeds , Liverpool , and, in early , Manchester.
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Barr in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago , contained works, including Guernica and its studies. At Picasso's request the safekeeping of Guernica was then entrusted to the Museum of Modern Art, and it was his expressed desire that the painting should not be delivered to Spain until liberty and democracy had been established in the country.
Between and it was shown in Brazil , then at the first Picasso retrospective in Milan , Italy, and then in numerous other major European cities before returning to MoMA for a retrospective celebrating Picasso's 75th birthday. It then went to Chicago and Philadelphia. By this time, concern for the state of the painting resulted in a decision to keep it in one place: a room on MoMA's third floor, where it was accompanied by several of Picasso's preliminary studies and some of Dora Maar 's photographs of the work in progress.
The studies and photos were often loaned for other exhibitions, but until , Guernica itself remained at MoMA. During the Vietnam War , the room containing the painting became the site of occasional anti-war vigils. The paint was removed with relative ease from the varnished surface.