Guernica is a mural-sized oil painting on canvas by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso completed in June 1937, at his home on Rue des . Grands Augustins, in Paris. The . painting, which uses a palette of gray, black, and white, is regarded by many art critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history.
Standing at 3.49 meters (11 ft 5 in) tall and 7.76 . meters (25 ft 6 in) wide, the large mural . shows the suffering of people wrenched by violence and chaos. Prominent in the . composition are a gored horse, a bull, and flames. Source [ Wikipedia ]
Facts About Painting
- GUERNICA WAS A COMMISSIONED . PAINTING.As the 1937 World’s Fair approached, members of Spain’s democratic government wanted the Spanish pavilion at Paris’ International Exposition . Dedicated to Art and Technology to feature a mural that would expose the atrocities of Generalissimo Francisco Franco and his allies. Naturally, these organizers set their sights on one of Spain’s most celebrated painters, Pablo Picasso, who had first gained recognition in the 1910s with his adoption of cubist artistic expression.
- FRANCO’S FORCES . BLAMED THE BOMBING DEPICTED IN THE PAINTING ON THEIR RIVALS.Picasso’s painting depicts the . bombing of the Basque town of Guernica on April 26, 1937. Franco’s German and Italian allies in the Spanish Civil War carpet-bombed Guernica, a stronghold of Republican opposition to Franco’s Nationalists, for hours. Casualty . estimates vary from 200 to 1000 deaths. To make matters worse, Franco . and his allies blamed the horrific attack on Republican forces.
- AN ARTICLE IN THE TIMES . INSPIRED PICASSO.Picasso didn’t witness the Guernica atrocities . firsthand, but he was deeply moved by a report of the event written by South African-British journalist George Steer for The Times. The . article, titled, “The Tragedy of Guernica: A Town Destroyed in Air Attack: Eye-Witness’s Account,” was attributed in print to “Our Special Correspondent.”
- AN EARLY VERSION OF THE . PAINTING WAS MORE EMPOWERING.Unsurprisingly, Guernica . evolved between its inception and completion. One of Picasso’s earliest drafts of the painting included a raised fist, a universal symbol of solidarity in resistance to oppression. Opponents . of Franco’s reign had embraced the emblem during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso depicted the fist empty-handed at first, then grasping a sheaf of grain. Ultimately, he . deleted the image altogether.
- HE BEGAN WORKING ON THE . PAINTING AT THE LAST MINUTE.
Picasso was so affected by Steer’s Guernica story . that he scrapped all pending plans to devote himself to the pavilion mural. The artist began work on. what would be one of his earliest politically inclined pieces on May 1, 1937, approximately three weeks before the scheduled launch of the exhibit. Guernica was not completed until early June, about two weeks after the pavilion opened.
- PICASSO REFUSED TO TALK. ABOUT THE PAINTING’S SYMBOLISM.Scholars have long tried to decode the. significance of the symbols in Guernica, especially the horse and bull figures. Naturally, Picasso was probed to explain the use of these creatures in his painting. He never offered anything more revelatory than “This bull. is a bull and this horse is a horse,” adding, “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.”
- EARLY REVIEWS OF THE. PAINTING WEREN’T ALL POSITIVE.
Today, Guernica is celebrated as one of Picasso’s. premiere achievements. But it wasn’t always hailed as a masterpiece. Among the piece’s leading detractors were American critic Clement Greenberg (who called Guernica“jerky” and “compressed”), French. painter and communist Edouard Pignon (who maligned the painting for its misplaced political message and lack of empathy for the working class), French philosopher Paul Nizan (who shared Pignon’s. sentiments, and further called Guernica a product of the bourgeoisie mentality), and American abstract painter Walter Darby Bannard (criticizing in particular the painting’s counterintuitive scale).
- NAZI GERMANY TOOK. POTSHOTS AT GUERNICA.Due to both Guernica’s antifascist message. and Adolf Hitler’s personal aversions to modern art, the official German guidebook for Paris’s International. Exposition recommended against visiting Picasso’s piece, which it called “a hodgepodge of body. parts that any four-year-old could have painted.”
- THE PAINTING WAS. COVERED UP DURING A SPEECH MADE BY COLIN POWELL.From 1985 to 2009, the United .Nations adorned the entrance of its Security Council with a tapestry reproduction of Guernica. In February 2003,. then-Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered a televised speech on site at the UN, testifying in favor of America’s. imminent declaration of war on Iraq. A large blue curtain covered the tapestry during Powell’s speech.
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