On April 27th, 1937, unprecedented atrocities are perpetrated on behalf of Franco against the civilian population of a little Basque village of Guernica in northern Spain. Chosen for bombing practice by Hitler’s new war machine, the little city is pounded with high explosives and incendiary bombs for over three hours. Townspeople are cut down as they run from the crumbling buildings. Guernica burns for three days. Sixteen hundred civilians are killed or wounded. This powerful painting captures Picasso’s horror at the brutal destruction that man commits against man. This monumental work tells the story.
Guernica, painted by Pablo Picasso in 1937, is a cubist work depicting the evils of war. It is clear that Picasso abhorred war, and all its aggregates. The mural stands eleven feet tall and is twenty-six feet in length. The immense size of this painting aids in portraying the monumental effect of war on the people of Spain. Using a monochromatic template, Picasso adds to this effect by creating an eerie and dark mood to reflect the tragedy of war. He uses only grays in his painting, and includes areas of only black and white. Picasso deliberately distorts the proportion of the animals and figures he has created. They look almost like something from a nightmare.
When I see this painting I look from left to right, seeingfirst an image of a woman mourning the loss of her newborn baby. Above her is the head of a bull, representing Spain. As I pan across the work, a horse trampling the body of a fallen warrior is shown. A ghost it seems holds a candle to light the scene, but light only shines to the right. Following the light is a woman struggling to walk. To the far right is a person screaming at the end of a dark hall. Picasso has drawn teeth-like figures on the hall to give it the appearance of a mouth.
As I look at this painting, I feel I get a real sense of war. It seems that you could look for hours and still have more to see. …


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