(Fleming, Arts & Ideas, 7th Edition 1986)

Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ is his depiction of the innocent Basque town that was brutally attacked by soldiers. It is at once the most monumental and comprehensive statement of social realism and a dramatic manifesto against the brutality of war. Picasso used a combination of expressionist and abstract techniques as a violent protest against a cruel and inhuman act. What lighted the fuse of this pictorial explosion of death and terror was the first saturation air raid of the century.

The horrible “experiment” by the German air force was carried out against the defenseless Basque town of Guernica and was an incident in General Francisco Franco’s successful rebellion against the legally elected government of the Spanish Republic.

Picasso was in Paris with the commission to paint a mural for the Spanish pavilion of the World’s Fair of 1937. Two days after news on the bombing of Guernica reached him, he began work. The huge canvas, accomplished in a matter of weeks, took up one wall of the Spanish pavilion, where it made an unforgettable impression on the thousands who saw it. The attention it attracted and the measure of understanding given to it has made Guernica one of the 20th century’s most important paintings.

In a time where CNN and Headline News didn’t exist, Guernica played an important part in opening people’s eyes to the brutal reality of war.

-Roz Barron Abellera


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