GUERNICA BY PICASSO: 5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE MOST INTENSE PAINTING OF THE 20TH CENTURY
According to Picasso Guernica was the town that more than others had suffered the horrors of war.
This is the reason why Guernica became the subject of his most important masterpiece and the most representative work of the 20th century.
In this post you’ll find 5 things to know about Guernica.
READ ALSO: Pablo Picasso: 5 things to know.
1. WHEN AND WHY PICASSO PAINTED GUERNICA
When the Spanish Republican government commissioned Picasso to paint a painting to exhibit at the Paris International Exposition in 1937, Spain was ravaged by civil war. The Nationalist army, led by General Francisco Franco, and the Republican army were fighting on opposite sides, and Guernica was the scene of the most tragic episode of the civil war.
On April 26th 1937 the Luftwaffe (the German air force) bombed the Basque town of Guernica to intimidate the resistance, killing more than 2,000 people. When Picasso heard the news coming from Spain decided that that tragedy would be the subject of his painting, which would become the most intense work of the 20th century.
READ ALSO: 5 things to know about Maurits Cornelis Escher.
2. GUERNICA BY PICASSO: DESCRIPTION
The composition of the painting reflects the principles of Cubism with a series of figures flattened on one another and depicted from different points of views.
From left to right you can see a desperate mother holding a baby, wounded or maybe dead, in her arms.
Then you can see a bull, a symbol of Spain but also an element symbolizing strength and brutality, and the horse that Picasso declared to be the symbol of the people and their universal cry of pain.
On the left there’s a soldier, defeated, lying on the ground and holding in his hand a broken sword and a small flower, symbol of peace and rebirth.
The whole painting seems to be characterized by a strength pushing everybody to the left, while on the far right of the canvas you can see some flames destroying the bombed houses, and hitting a man who shouts and tries to escape.
3. WHY PICASSO PAINTED GUERNICA BLACK AND WHITE
Picasso didn’t see the bombing in person, but he knew the events from the newspaper of that time.
Picasso saw the black-and-white photos of the city of Guernica, so he decided to give his version of events to the world by painting the canvas white, black and gray, and making the scene even more dramatic.
READ ALSO: 5 things to know about Francis Bacon.
4. WHERE GUERNICA HAS BEEN EXHIBITED
The work was displayed at the Spanish Pavilion of the International Exposition of Art and Technology in Paris where it remained until the end of 1937.
Later Picasso gave the work to Spain, but he imposed a condition: the canvas would come back to his native land only after the restoration of democracy in Spain.
For this reason the work was housed at the Museum of Modern Art of New York (MoMA) for more than forty years, that is to say until 1981 when at last it was moved to Spain.
5. WHERE YOU CAN ADMIRE GUERNICA
On October 10th 1981 Guernica arrived in Madrid and was housed at the Casón del Buen Retiro. In 1992 Guernica was moved to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (the Reina Sofia Museum) in Madrid, where is currently on display and from which it can’t be moved.
READ ALSO: Ai Weiwei, 5 things to know.