Power of Art – Picasso episode 7: Guernica (1937) was created during Picasso’s Surrealist period and captures the horror of the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. By the end of World War II, Picasso had become an internationally known artist and celebrity.
The power of the greatest art is the power to shake us into revelation and rip us from our default mode of seeing. After an encounter with that force, we don’t look at a face, a colour, a sky, a body, in quite the same way again. We get fitted with new sight: in-sight. Visions of beauty or a rush of intense pleasure are part of that process, but so too may be shock, pain, desire, pity, even revulsion. That kind of art seems to have rewired our senses. We apprehend the world differently.
Art that aims that high – whether by the hand of Caravaggio, Van Gogh or Picasso – was not made without trouble and strife. Of course there has been plenty of great art created in serenity, but the popular idea that some masterpieces were made under acute stress with the artist struggling for the integrity of the conception and its realisation is not a “romantic myth” at all. A glance at how some of the most transforming works got made by human hands is an encounter with “moments of commotion”.
Power of Art – Picasso episode 7
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and theatre designer who spent most of his adult life in France. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), and Guernica (1937), a dramatic portrayal of the bombing of Guernica by German and Italian air forces during the Spanish Civil War.
Picasso demonstrated extraordinary artistic talent in his early years, painting in a naturalistic manner through his childhood and adolescence. During the first decade of the 20th century, his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas. After 1906, the Fauvist work of the slightly older artist Henri Matisse motivated Picasso to explore more radical styles, beginning a fruitful rivalry between the two artists, who subsequently were often paired by critics as the leaders of modern art
Guernica – Picasso
Guernica is a large 1937 oil painting on canvas by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. One of Picasso’s best known works, Guernica is regarded by many art critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history. It is exhibited in the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid.
The gray, black, and white painting, which is 3.49 meters (11 ft 5 in) tall and 7.76 meters (25 ft 6 in) across, portrays the suffering of people and animals wrought by violence and chaos. Prominent in the composition are a gored horse, a bull, screaming women, dismemberment, and flames.
Picasso painted Guernica at his home in Paris in response to the bombing of Guernica, a Basque Country town in northern Spain, by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy at the request of the Spanish Nationalists. Upon completion, Guernica was exhibited at the Spanish display at the 1937 Paris International Exposition, and then at other venues around the world. The touring exhibition was used to raise funds for Spanish war relief. The painting soon became famous and widely acclaimed, and it helped bring worldwide attention to the Spanish Civil War.
Commission Guernica – Picasso
In January 1937, while Pablo Picasso was living in Paris on Rue des Grands Augustins, he was commissioned by the Spanish Republican government to create a large mural for the Spanish pavilion at the 1937 Paris World’s Fair. Picasso, who had last visited Spain in 1934 and would never return, was the Honorary Director-in-Exile of the Prado Museum.
Picasso worked somewhat dispassionately from January until late April on the project’s initial sketches, which depicted his perennial theme of an artist’s studio. Then, immediately upon hearing reports of the 26 April bombing of Guernica, poet Juan Larrea visited Picasso’s home to urge him to make the bombing his subject. Days later, on 1 May, Picasso read George Steer’s eyewitness account of the attack, which originally had been published in both The Times and The New York Times on 28 April, and abandoned his initial idea. Acting on Larrea’s suggestion, Picasso began sketching a series of preliminary drawings for Guernica.