Monday, May 16, 2011

Guernica, Picasso, 1937

Guernica by Picasso in 1937 was a response to the bombing of Guernica by German and Italian warplanes during the Spanish Civil War. Guernica is a town in Basque Country. During the civil war, it was regarded as the northern bastion of the Republican resistance, who opposed the Nationalists. On April 26, 1937, the Nationalist, who gained material support from Germany, requested German warplanes to bomb Guernica for about two hours (Harris). The Spanish Republican government commissioned Pablo Picasso to create a large mural for the Spanish display at the International Exposition in the 1937 World's Fair in Paris (Hart). Picasso chose to create Guernica to commemorate the horror of the Spanish Civil War by showing the suffering of the innocent civilians involved in the war.
Guernica has its own unique style to represent the horror of the war; it is not in realist or romantic terns but is instead composed of straight lines and geometric shapes to build a chaotic and messy scene. It is hard to recognize the items in the painting by the first sight, since all the subjects are in odd proportions and strange shapes. In the painting, Picasso uses black, white and grey paint to set a somber mood and express pain and despair. The dark color makes the atmosphere of the painting even gloomier. The gloomy and harsh color accompanied with the messy arrangement of the painting demonstrates the brutality and chaos of the war.
Picasso created many elements in Guernica to show the suffering of innocent people and animals during the war. The center of the painting is a horse falling in agony as it has just been run through by a spear or javelin. The large gaping wound in the horse's side is a major focus of the painting that reflects the pain that the war brings. At the very left of the painting stands a woman grieving over her dead child in her arms. Her relatively huge head becomes the focus of her body and her big mouth the focus of her head. Her giant mouth and dramatically upward pointed head make her crying look so real as if the audiences can actually hear her sorrowful cry. Underneath the horse lies a dead, dismembered soldier; his hand still grasps a shattered sword, which makes him look more pathetic. On the right of the painting, there are also three other sorrowful victims of the bombing. They scream, sob, and suffer from the war. Guernica is a painting filled with the pain and suffering of innocent civilians. It also becomes a perpetual reminder of the tragedies and horror of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace.

Works Cited:
Hart, David. "Guernica." Oneonta. Web. 6 May 2011. <>.

Harris, Mark. "Picasso's Secret Guernica.", 1996. Web. 16 May 2011. <>.

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