The Guernica Painting

Guernica is a mural painting done by Pablo Picasso in 1937. It reflected the bombing that took place in Guernica, Basque country. The perpetrators of Guernica bombing were the Germans and the Italians who used Adolf Hitler’s warplanes as they were fighting Spanish forces. The order was given by Colonel Wolfram von Richthofen. Spanish republican government asked Picasso to create the painting in commemoration of the bombing which is now in display at the Paris International Exposition at 1937 world fair. A year after Picasso drew the painting; he allowed it to go to other places around the world for people to become enlightened on the horrors that befell Spain. The painting is recognized as a symbol of peace as it reminds people about the calamities that happened then, especially the sufferings of the innocent civilians, animals and destruction of properties (Dagen 48).

The painting has black, grey and white colors. It is 11ft by 25.6ft in terms of dimension. Images in the painting are all placed in a dark walled room. On the left, a bull with wide eyes stands over a distressed woman who is holding a child. At the middle, there is a wounded horse in pain after a spear has been driven into it. Under the horse, there is an injured soldier, and above it there is a light bulb in the sun. On the right side, a terrified floating woman holding a flame is gazing at the scenes occurring in the room. Below the floating woman, another woman is gazing at the light bulb. There is a dove, a figure engulfed by fire, human skull, another bull and daggers.

The colors represent the dreary mood in the country during the war. The painting carries a theme of death. The images run on each other and the painting seems hard to comprehend, but Picasso’s idea was to make it impossible to distinguish one image from the other. Use of fiercely looking bull depicts the barbarism associated with wars, where the fighters lack human consciousness and opt to fight like merciless beasts. Adolf Hitler bombed Guernica for target practice in a market place where almost 1654 people were killed and approximately 889 others were injured. The light bulb symbolizes the man’s effort to appeal for God’s help. The floating woman with a flame shows a face that is seeing things never seen before. This shows that the war resulted in brutal fatalities that could only have been imagined there before (Russell 57).

The painting is memorable as it commemorated the first aerial attack that ever happened in Spain during the Spanish civil war.  Guernica is considered to be a treasure as it bridges the notion of making political statements and artistic statement at the same time. In Picasso’s era, art practices were tremendously evolving and inclining towards social realism. Guernica was the northern supporter of the republican resistance movement and it dearly withheld the Basque culture making it a target. The republicans mainly consisted of socialists, anarchists and communists who were all differing in terms of government policies and aims, but they all opposed the nationalists. The bombing was a mere sign of intimidation as it injured women and children because the majority of the men were away fighting the nationalists. There was also a factory nearby that made weapons which was not attacked. Picasso reflects women and children as innocent and defenseless victims who were accorded inhumane attacks. The nationalists bombed the republicans in Guernica in order to show their military might. The following day, the first article was published on both The Times and The New York Times.  The article made Picasso aware of what was going on in his country; he was later commissioned to compile his observations for the painting (Fisch and Picasso 109).

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