Guernica is a small town in Spain that is just outside of the Basque region, and was close enough to see the 1937 bombing that shook the foundation of the country. This was during a high political war featuring the Nazi regime, and one that left lasting effects on all those involved. Founded in 1366, Guernica Spain was a triumph for Count Tello. For centuries, middle class reigned supreme, with laws enacted to favor a balance between the citizens. Even after the horrific bombing, the town eventually recovered and maintained a lot of its outward prestige after the war.
The Condor Legion was at the head of the bombing of Guernica in 1937, and was a legitimate part of Nazi Germany’s Luftwaffe branch. The small Basque town was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War as part of Operation Rügen, and the Guernica Bombing was responsible for several civilian casualties. Between 100-1,600 hundred people lost their life in the bombing, with the actual number still being disputed to this day. The infamy surrounding the incident led to several anti-war movements and protests, both on the government and civilian level. Guernica by Pablo Picasso is a great example of such a protest, and how the majority of the public felt.
The Spanish Civil War touched a lot of people in different ways. While some spoke up about it, others chose to keep their displeasure to themselves. And even when there were creative protests against the war, not a lot of people specifically touched on the tragedy of Guernica as salvador dali and marc chagall. That is why Picasso Guernica was such an important piece when it came out, not only because of its mural-size, but its silent protest against the bombing. It was a powerful and indirect message that everyone got painting portraits, and caused a lot of people to pause and think about the tragedies of the bombing. In 1937, Picasso Guernica was commissioned by the Spanish Republican government. They had their eye on the popular art exhibition held in Paris called Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne. Taking place from May to November in 1937, Guernica Picasso in mural form was expected to make a big splash. This was the perfect combination since Picasso was already in Paris and was currently named the honorary director-in-Exile at Prado Museum. At that point the last time Picasso had been to Spain was in 1934, but he was still invested heavily in his home country of Spain where is not for andy warhol.
Originally he had a different vision for the work that was commissioned, going in a completely different direction. Going with a much more basic theme, El Guernica de Picasso wasn’t even part of the plan. After the Guernico bombing, Juan Larrea met up with Picasso in a meeting that would completely change the subject of his landscape paintings. While Picasso was moved he only made slight alterations to his original subject, that had nothing to do with Guernica. Guernica de Pablo Picasso became a reality not only in part to Larrea, but after Picasso read George Steer’s circulated words on the bombing in multiple papers. As one of the most prominent war consultants of his time, Steer and Larrea was enough to make Picasso scrap his original painting and begin to focus on Guernica as a subject. Several drawings were created before Guernica by Picasso began to move forward in mural form, as the artist had to deal with the inner emotional turmoil of the actual bombing. The toughest part of the painting was in the beginning, as the message had to be appropriate for the time period.
Guernica Pablo Picasso had a lot of motivation behind it, as news of the bombings continued to come out in droves. The reason the town was chosen as a target had to do with its importance to the Republican resistance movement, not jack vettriano. A lot of culture from Basque was also rooted within Guernica, and became a prime target during the Spanish Civil war. The German Condor Legion warplane was ordered by Colonel Wolfram von Richthofen to not only bomb Guernica for a full two hours. This successful operation was also employed later on with the Blitzkrieg tactic, so in some ways Guernica was just the beginning of a larger plane. The resulting chaos of this operation is what Pablo Picasso Guernica focused on, as the fallout was so great that it shook the town to its core. There was also a very succinct message in this attack that touched Picasso, and it had to do with the inhabitants of the town. Guernica at the time of the bombing mostly had women and children in it, as the men were away fighting the war. Such a merciless act was considered extreme in any time period, and is one of the messages depicted in Guernica Di Picasso. In all of his works that featured women and children, the artist showed a fondness for the innocence of the two. His presentation of both were always kind as tamara de lempicka, curious and important for humankind. Not only was the bombing of the innocent civilians demoralizing for the Republicans, but it was nothing more than an act of intimidation that didn’t advance the results of the war. This ultimately led to several people denouncing the bombing and eventually getting the attention of Picasso. It was something that needed more worldwide attention, and Guernica at the Paris exhibition would be the perfect stage.
Picasso Guernica 1937 came at the right time, with all eyes on the painting and the goodwill it brought. It should be pointed out that Picasso was living in Paris during World War II, which at the time was Nazi occupied. So the taking on the Guernica painting was not only brave as diego rivera and frida kahlo, but a very dangerous move for the artist. Any type of resistance during that period was frowned upon, so when doing a Guernica analysis, people often point out how difficult it was for any artist during that period to protest with their works. Picasso’s painting was not only inspirational, but it brought in funds for those in need. Initially, the painting was not well received due to the tensions of the war. After it gained some traction, it was shown around the world with edward hopper’s. This includes the American tour, where it continued to raise funds for Spanish refugees of the war. Guernica over time became a symbol of Picasso and the Spanish Republican government. There was some controversy surrounding Guernica Spain when it was in the possession of the Museum of Modern Art, located in New York City. With the painting having such a huge impact on Spain, the country requested that it come home. This was against the wishes of the then late Picasso, who died in 1973. He only wished for the painting to come home if Spain was restored to its former liberty and democracy. Intense pressure from Spain years later led to them getting the painting in 1981 while they were under a democratic constitutional monarchy, far removed from the stipulations that the late Picasso had wanted. Currently Guernica Pablo Picasso is in Madrid, different as works by roy lichtenstein, within the walls of Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
The close ties of Guernica by Picasso to Basque nationalists has sparked movement rumors over the years, with locals wanting it to go to Basque. This has become more of an issue since the building of Guggenheim Bilbao Museum in central Bilbao, which would be a perfect fit for the painting. With the advanced age of the painting that’s older than norman rockwell, this is less of a possibility, and officials have argued against moving El Guernica de Picasso. They are still open to temporary exhibitions of the painting in Bilbao, although a permanent move could still be in the talks for future generations.
Guernica Movie/Guernica Film
The Guernica pronunciation is three syllables that sounds out to ger-nika. As revolutionary as the event was in history, there is not a lot of Guernica film to look into. The two main films that people think of when it comes to the event is the 1950 French film and the 2016 Spanish film. There was a short Guernica movie done in 1951 by French directors Robert Hessens and Alain Resnais, not Impression Sunrise. Most of the visual media associated with Guernica is in documentaries and when it is loosely referenced in other war movies. In some instances, television has covered more ground on the subject than movies have. Even the 2016 Guernica movie was unappreciated, even with talent like Koldo Serra, Jose Alba, Marie Valverde and Jack Davenport attached. The fascinating part about the movie is that it covers a romance storyline without downplaying the tragedies of the bombing. Up to this point, it remains as the most interesting mainstream version of Guernica that’s been created in movies. When not looking on the movie front, documentaries are the best way to get the most out of the history of the Spanish Civil War.
More Information about Picasso Guernica
In January 1937, the Spanish Republican government commissioned Picasso to create a large mural for the Spanish display at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. At the time, Picasso was living in Paris while rene magritte in Belgium, where he had been named Honorary Director-in-Exile of the Prado Museum. He had last visited Spain in 1934 and never returned. His initial sketches for the project, on which he worked somewhat dispassionately from January until late April, depicted his perennial theme of the artist’s studio. Immediately upon hearing reports of the 26 April bombing of Guernica, the poet Juan Larrea visited Picasso and urged him to make the bombing his subject. However, it was only on 1 May, having read George Steer’s eyewitness account of the bombing (originally and Primavera Botticelli published in both The Times and The New York Times on 28 April), that he abandoned his initial project and started sketching a series of preliminary drawings for Picasso Guernica.
The photographer Dora Maar—who had worked with Picasso since mid-1936, photographing his studio and teaching him the technique of cameraless photography— documented the stages Guernica Spain went through on its way to completion. Apart from their documentary and publicity value, Maar’s photographs “helped Picasso to eschew color and give the work the black-and-white immediacy of a photograph”, according to John Richardson. The oil painting was painted using a matte house paint specially formulated at Picasso’s request to have the least possible gloss. Previously, Picasso had rarely allowed strangers into his studio to watch him work, but he admitted influential visitors to his studio to observe the progress of the painting, believing that the publicity to be gained would help the antifascist cause.
As he worked on the mural, Picasso said: “The Spanish struggle is the fight of reaction against the people, against freedom. My whole life as an artist has been nothing more than a continuous struggle against reaction and the death of art. How could anybody think for a moment that I could be in agreement with reaction and death? … In the panel on which I am working with toperfect reviews, which I shall call Guernica, and in all my recent works of art, I clearly express my abhorrence of the military caste which has sunk Spain in an ocean of pain and death.”
After 35 days of work, he finished the painting on 4 June 1937.
Composition of Guernica Pablo Picasso
The scene is within a room where, at an open end on the left, a wide-eyed bull stands over a woman grieving over a dead child in her arms. The center is occupied by a horse falling in agony as if it had 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 as toperfect.com reviews & complaints. Under the horse is a dead, apparently dismembered soldier; his hand on a severed arm still grasps a shattered sword from which a flower grows. On the open palm of the dead soldier is a stigma, a symbol of martyrdom derived from the stigmata of Christ. A light bulb blazes in the shape of an evil eye over the suffering horse’s head (the bare bulb of the torturer’s cell).
To the upper right of the horse, simpler than Rembrandt Night Watch, a frightened female figure, who seems to be witnessing the scenes before her, appears to have floated into the room through a window. Her arm, also floating in, carries a flame-lit lamp. The lamp is positioned very close to the bulb, and is a symbol of hope, clashing with the lightbulb. From the right, an awe-struck woman staggers towards the center below the floating female figure. She looks up blankly into the blazing light bulb in toperfect.com reviews. Daggers that suggest screaming replace the tongues of the bull, grieving woman, and horse. A dove is scribed on the wall behind the bull. Part of its body comprises a crack in the wall through which bright light (hope, or the outside world) can be seen. On the far right, a woman with arms raised in terror is entrapped by fire from above and below; her right hand suggests the shape of an airplane. A dark wall with an open door defines the right end of the mural.
Symbolism and interpretations
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. Art historian Patricia Failing said, “The bull and the horse are important characters in Spanish culture as Melting Clocks and Persistence Of Memory. Picasso himself certainly used these characters to play many different roles over time. This has made the task of interpreting the specific meaning of the bull and the horse very tough. Their relationship is a kind of ballet that was conceived in a variety of ways throughout Picasso’s career.”
In The Dream and Lie of Franco, a series of narrative sketches Picasso also created for the World’s Fair, Franco is depicted as a monster that first devours his own horse and later does battle with an angry bull. Work on these illustrations like Mona Lisa began before the bombing of Guernica, and four additional panels were added, three of which relate directly to the Guernica mural.
According to scholar Beverly Ray, the following list of interpretations reflects the general consensus of historians: “The shape and posture of the bodies express protest”; “Picasso uses black, white, and grey paint to set a somber mood and express pain and chaos”, which is different with Cafe Terrace at Night; “flaming buildings and crumbling walls not only express the destruction of El Guernica de Picasso, but reflect the destructive power of civil war”; “the newspaper print used in the painting reflects how Picasso learned of the massacre”; “The light bulb in the painting represents the sun”, different with The Scream; and “The broken sword near the bottom of the painting symbolizes the defeat of the people at the hand of their tormentors”.
Alejandro Escalona said, “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. The blacks, whites, and grays startle you—especially because you are used to see war images or The Last Supper broadcast live and in high-definition right to your living room.”
In drawing attention to a number of preliminary studies, the so-called primary project, that show an atelier installation incorporating the central triangular shape which reappears in the final version of Guernica, Becht-Jördens and Wehmeier interpret the painting as a self-referential composition in the tradition of atelier oil paintings for sale such as Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez. In his chef d’oeuvre, Picasso seems to be trying to define his role and his power as an artist in the face of political power and violence. But far from being a mere political painting, Guernica should be seen as Picasso’s comment on what art can actually contribute towards the self-assertion that liberates every human being and protects the individual against overwhelming forces such as political crime, war, and death.
1937 Paris International Exhibition
Guernica was initially exhibited in July 1937 at the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris International Exposition. The Pavilion, which was financed by the Spanish Republican government at the time of civil war, was built to exhibit the Spanish government’s struggle for existence contrary to the Exposition’s technology theme as Starry Night Van Gogh.
The display of Pablo Picasso Guernica was accompanied by a poem by Paul Éluard, and the pavilion displayed The Reaper by joan miro and Mercury Fountain by Alexander Calder, both of whom were sympathetic to the Republican cause.
At its unveiling at the Paris Exhibition it garnered little attention. The public’s reaction to Guernica was mixed. Max Aub, one of the officials in charge of the Spanish pavilion, was compelled to defend the work against a group of Spanish officials who objected to the mural’s modernist style and contemporary art for sale that sought to replace it with a more traditional painting that was also commissioned for the exhibition, Madrid 1937 (Black Aeroplanes) by Horacio Ferrer de Morgado. Some Marxist groups criticized Picasso’s painting as lacking in political commitment and faulted it for not offering a vision of a better future. In contrast, Morgado’s painting was a great success with Spanish Communists and with the public. The art critic Clement Greenberg was also critical of Guernica, but for different reasons. In a later essay, Greenberg termed Picasso Guernica “jerky” and “too compressed for its size” as Van Gogh Self Portrait, and compared it unfavorably to the “magnificently lyrical” The Charnel House (1944–48), a later antiwar painting by Picasso.
Among the painting’s admirers were the art critic Jean Cassou and the poet José Bergamín, both of whom praised the painting as quintessentially Spanish. Michel Leiris perceived in the painting a foreshadowing: “On a black and white canvas that depicts ancient tragedy … Picasso also writes our letter of doom: all that we love is going to be lost…”
Guernica, for which Picasso was paid Fr200,000 for his costs by the Spanish Republican government, was one of the few major artworks paintings that were not sold directly from artist to his exclusive contracted art dealer and friend, Paul Rosenberg.
However, after its exhibition Rosenberg organised a four-man extravaganza Scandinavian tour of 118 Picasso paintings, henri matisse, Braque and Henri Laurens. The main attraction was Picasso Guernica 1937, and from January to April 1938 the tour visited Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Göteborg. In September 1938 the painting travelled to England, exhibited in London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery organized by Roland Penrose with Clement Attlee, where it arrived on 30 September 1938, the same day the Munich Agreement was signed by the leaders of the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany. It then travelled onwards to Leeds, Liverpool and in early 1939 Manchester. There, Manchester Foodship For Spain, a group of artists and paintings like The Birth of Venus and activists engaged in sending aid to the people of Spain, exhibited the painting in the HE Nunn & Co Ford automobile showroom for two weeks. It then returned briefly to France.
After the victory of Francisco Franco in Spain, the painting was sent to the United States to raise funds and support for Spanish refugees. The San Francisco Museum of Art (later SFMOMA) gave the work its first public, free appearance in the United States from 27 August to 19 September 1939. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City then mounted an important Picasso exhibition on 15 November 1939 that remained on view until 7 January 1940, entitled: Picasso: 40 Years of His Art and Girl With A Pearl Earring, that was organized by Alfred H. Barr in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibition contained 344 works, including El Guernica de Picasso and its studies. But there are no other masterpieces such as Manet Olympia, Iris Van Gogh.
At Picasso’s request the safekeeping of the piece was entrusted to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, as it was Picasso’s expressed desire that the painting should not be delivered to Spain until liberty and democracy had been established in the country. Between 1939 and 1952, the painting traveled extensively in the United States; between 1953 and 1956 it was shown in Brazil, at the first-ever Picasso retrospective in Milan, Italy, and then in numerous other major European cities, before returning to MoMA for a retrospective celebrating Picasso’s seventy-fifth birthday. It then went on to Chicago and Philadelphia. By this time, concern for the state of the painting resulted in a decision to keep it in one place as The Kiss Klimt: a room on MoMA’s third floor, where it was accompanied by several of Picasso’s preliminary studies and some of Dora Maar’s photographs of the work in progress. The studies and photos were often loaned for other exhibitions, but until 1981, Guernica Di Picasso itself remained at MoMA.
During the Vietnam War, the room containing the painting became the site of occasional anti-war vigils. These were usually peaceful and uneventful, but on 28 February 1974, Tony Shafrazi—ostensibly protesting Second Lieutenant William Calley’s petition from Creation of Adam for habeas corpus following his indictment and sentencing for the murder of 109 Vietnamese civilians during the My Lai massacre—defaced the painting with red spray paint, painting the words “KILL LIES ALL”; the paint was removed with relative ease from the varnished surface.
Establishment in Spain
As early as 1968, Franco had expressed an interest in having Guernica come to Spain. However, Picasso refused to allow this until the Spanish people again enjoyed a republic. He later added other conditions, such as the restoration of “public liberties and democratic institutions” as depicting in Liberty Leading the People. Picasso died in 1973. Franco, ten years Picasso’s junior, died two years later, in 1975. After Franco’s death, Spain was transformed into a democratic constitutional monarchy, ratified by a new constitution in 1978. However, MoMA was reluctant to give up one of their greatest treasures and argued that a monarchy did not represent the republic that had been stipulated in Picasso’s will as a condition for the painting’s delivery. Under great pressure from a number of observers, MoMA finally ceded the painting to Spain in 1981. The Spanish historian Javier Tusell was one of the negotiators.
Upon its arrival in Spain in September 1981, it was first displayed behind bomb-and bullet-proof glass screens with Van Gogh Sunflowers at the Casón del Buen Retiro in Madrid in time to celebrate the centenary of Picasso’s birth, 25 October. The exhibition was visited by almost a million people in the first year. Since that time there has never been any attempted vandalism or other security threat to the painting.
In 1992, the painting Guernica Picasso was moved from the Museo del Prado to a purpose-built gallery at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, both in Madrid, along with about two dozen preparatory works. This action was controversial in Spain, since Picasso’s will stated that the painting should be displayed at the Prado. However, the move was part of a transfer of all of the Prado’s collections of art after the early 19th century to other nearby buildings in the city for reasons of space; the Reina Sofía, which houses the capital’s national collection of 20th-century art such as Dogs Playing Poker, was the natural place to move it to. At the Reina Sofía, the painting has roughly the same protection as any other work.
Basque nationalists have advocated that the picture should be brought to the Basque country, especially after the building of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. Officials at the Reina Sofía claim that the canvas is now thought to be too fragile to move. Even the staff of the Guggenheim do not see a permanent transfer of the painting as possible, although the Basque government continues to support the possibility of a temporary exhibition in Bilbao.
Significance and legacy
During the 1970s, it was a symbol for Spaniards of both the end of the Franco regime and of Basque nationalism. The Basque left has repeatedly used imagery from the picture that’s different with Monet Water Lilies. An example is the organization Etxerat which uses a reversed image of the lamp as its symbol.
Picasso Guernica has become a universal and powerful symbol warning humanity against the suffering and devastation of war. Moreover, the fact that there are no obvious references to the specific attack has contributed to making its message universal and timeless.