Today, while organizing my office, I found the Guernica poster and now I shall hang it on the wall.
Over the years, we had vacationed in Spain a few times and I was fortunate to have seen this painting twice in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid.
Living in Paris, Pablo Picasso was well into his Cubism Period and experimenting with Surrealism when he learned that the Nazi war planes had bombed out the Spanish Basque town of Guernica.
France’s government was already strangling from the Nazis’ Vichy government grip. The frightful culture of constant terror and the surveillance of telling on others was an unsafe environment. In addition, bloody fights broke out in the streets between the far-right and far-left political extremists.
Picasso lived in an attic studio that was once the home of a member of the Resistance Movement. During this time, censorship was at its highest; therefore, Picasso painted the horrors of war on canvas. The artist released his emotions on canvas, a precursor to Art Therapy.
During the Nazi occupation, Picasso was also under threat because creativity was not encouraged, it fell under the umbrella of censorship, so Picasso was silenced. His exhibitions were cancelled, also, his works of art and writings were prohibited and banned. It is rumored, in the art circles, that when the Nazis raided Picasso’s studio, they noticed the big canvas painting and asked the artist if he painted the Guernica, “Did you do that?” asked the inquisitive German soldiers.
Picasso quipped, “No, you did.”
The canvas dimensions are quite large and made its first appearance at the 1937 Paris World’s Fair. The Fair’s theme was Modern Technology as Popular Entertainment. Picasso showcased Guernica in the Spanish Pavilion. This location was the focal meeting place for political people who had no use for deniers of the realities of war. Picasso had no patience for those social climbers who were still were stuck in the out-of-step climate of seeking artistic approval and societal affirmation in the art scene.
During this time, Picasso was quoted, “Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war against brutality and darkness.”
Today, Guernica is admired as one of his most famous paintings. “Perhaps best appreciated for placing the activist role of art very firmly in the public eye”.
Source- Picasso: Guernica, Reina Sofia, Scalapublishers.com
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