Pablo Picasso

Guernica (1937)

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Guernica (1937)

Guernica is certainly Picasso's most powerful political statement, painted as an immediate reaction to the Nazi's devastating casual bombing practice on the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians.


"My whole life as an artist has been nothing more than a continuous struggle against reaction and the death of art. In the picture I am painting — which I shall call Guernica — I am expressing my horror of the military caste which is now plundering Spain into an ocean of misery and death." Pablo Picasso


Question ONE: Look at Guernica. How are the "tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon… innocent civilians" evident in the painting?


Question TWO: Does the work successfully convey 'suffering'? Why? or Why not?

The Bombing of Gernika: The Mark of Man

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Guernica is a town in the province of Biscay in Basque Country. During the Spanish Civil War, it was regarded as the northern bastion of the Republican resistance movement and the epicenter of Basque culture, adding to its significance as a target.


Question THREE: List at least 10 VIPs based on the history of Guernica.
Guernica 3D

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Picasso completed the painting ofGuernica in 1937, a time of widespread political unrest not just in Spain, but worldwide. World War II would begin just a couple years later and would further decimate the European continent as a whole. In Guernica, we see several victims of the bombing--some still living, some already dead. A figure sprawled supine in the foreground of the painting appears to be a corpse and is framed on both sides by living victims with their heads thrown back, wailing in agony. The figure to the left is a mother clutching a baby who appears to have died during the bombing.


The painting is saturated with symbolism.


Question FOUR: For you, what are the most powerful visual elements of the painting?
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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. 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.


Question FIVE: Purely based on your initial reactions to the image, and what you have learnt so far, what do you think the 10 symbols embody?