Guernica – Picasso


This painting by Pablo Picasso named Guernica and is probably his most powerful political piece of work that has been created. The events that surrounded the Basque town of  Guernica devastated by the bombing of the Nazi’s during the Spanish Civil War inspired Picasso to paint this picture. The bombing destroyed 3/4 of Guernica, it was a deliberate act of destruction toward the Spanish civilians to see how it effected moral. The destruction of Guernica was one of the catalysts for the 2nd world war, which erupted a couple of years later.

The painting was to be exhibited for Spanish pavilion at the World Fair, Parisian Exhibition which was held in the summer of 1937,  and commissioned by the Spanish Republican government. It had some mixed reviews from its first exhibition and Hitler  was opposed to any of his citizens to view it. However over the years it became a political symbol of War and was exhibited around the world for many years raising awareness for the Spanish hardship over the Civil War.

It offers a visual account of the impact and chaos that was inflicted on Guernica. With the many female figures throughout the painting showing death and pain, in particular the woman holding what seems to be her dead child on the left hand side of the painting. The poignant and chaotic depiction of the bombing is somewhat disturbing to myself. With the lack of colour, it is very morbid, as the narrative suggested that the it should be. With the predominant colour of black, perhaps representing death its self.  There is a light at the top of the picture which possibly shows the moment of the explosions.

This piece of work by Picasso is a example of the power of art, particularly within the political arena. As shown below, its has been adapted for the Israeli war over the Gaza strip. It is highly reverent of its cultural significance, and the tragedy of modern war.


Below are a few adaptations that I found by an artist Ron English he states that Guernica is a modern template for himself. He translates the in comprehensive tragedy of Guernica into a cartoon narrative, and believes that it is more easily absorbed, as it is part of the human process to distance ourselves from overwhelming emotions.