Guernica is a painting by Pablo Picasso in 1937 and is a cubist style painting that is 25 feet long in total. It is widely known to be a very famous painting and has had a great impact on many people due to the way it bridges formalist experimentation with political activism.

The painting was created after Germany had bombed Guernica on 26th April 1937 as an experiment to see the effect of bombing civilians. As a result, 3/4 of the buildings in Guernica had been destroyed. It was the first bombing of its kind and had changed the world. It was to be a technique used by the Nazi’s during the second world war.

Picasso himself was a Republican and had been commissioned by the Republicans to create a piece of work relevant to the events taking place. Throughout he did not know what to create until the bombing in Guernica took place. The painting was one way of standing up for Guernica.

The painting itself as mentioned previously is a cubist painting. It is designed to be a triptych, but not a conventional one. Throughout Picasso manages to create intellectual difficulties that force the process of recognition to be slowed down, therefore as well as looking, the viewer is forced to think about the piece. Within the painting the viewer can see various animals and figures including a bull, a horse and people – all of whom seem to be in some form of pain. It is said that Picasso has his own mythology and many elements in the painting can be found in previous works. When looking at the painting there is a clear source of light high up in the centre, however, the piece on the whole appears dark and so from this we can assume that the light does not contain positive connotations. Knowing the history behind the piece, the light is a representation of death – like Goya.

After its creation the painting went on tour until 1940 where it now permanently resides in Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. Although the painting represents the destruction that occurred in Guernica, it is a painting that is still relatable to events that occur today. In my opinion that is what makes the piece so powerful, although it was painted in 1937 it still has relevance today and I believe that as long as there is war in the world, the painting will always remain relevant and just as powerful.


Author: marislathamgraphics

I am a student at Cardiff Metropolitan University studying BA Hons Graphic Communication.

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