Guernica is actually a Basque country town located in Spain. But at present the name is more famous for a legendary painting named after it rather than the town. Guernica, one of the most renowned works of arts, is painted by none other than Pablo Picasso. The painting is a prime example of the genius of Picasso, one of the foremost exponents of Cubist style in art.
|Guernica (black and white)|
What inspired Picasso to create Guernica was a tragedy that befell the town during the Spanish civil war. On 26 April 1937, the war planes of Germany, who backed the Spanish government, showered hundreds of bombs on the town, killing thousands of innocent people and domestic animals. Picasso happened to read an eyewitness account of the tragedy by George Steer and the horror of the incident shook him hard. The ace painter, who hadn’t showed much interest in the war till then, decided to express his protest against such violence. And it was the culmination of his anger and anguish over the incident what became the world famous painting named Guernica.
Guernica is a mural-sized painting measuring 3.49 m of length and 7.76 m of height. Picasso does not portray the bomber planes or the havoc they created upon the town in his work. He expresses the horror of the calamity through a household destroyed in the bombing. He portrays the residents and the domestic animals suffering from the tragedy along with many symbolic representations.
The picture presents the events happening in a room and outside. It is full of scattered figures. An impassive bull, a horse crying from pain, a mother grieving over her dead child, a dismembered soldier, a frightened woman and many other figures appear in the picture. There can also be seen many objects with symbolic subtexts and peculiar triangles throughout the painting.
Guernica was actually started as a project commissioned by the Spanish Government. But when Picasso heard about the bombing he decided to drop the initial project and draw Guernica instead. It was finished in June 1937. Picasso took only weeks to finish the work. He has employed his various styles in the picture, including Cubism.
Guernica was first exhibited in the Paris International Exposition in the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. Then it went on to be displayed at various venues and attracted worldwide attention. It is now displayed at Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid. There are still few paintings that express the anti-war sentiments as powerfully and emotively as Guernica.