Guernica (1937) by Pablo Picasso

Guernica - Pablo Picasso - 1937

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Artwork Information

ArtistPablo Picasso
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions349 x 776 cm
Art MovementCubism
Current LocationMuseo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS), Madrid, Spain

About Guernica

The artwork “Guernica” is an iconic oil on canvas painting by Pablo Picasso completed in 1937, during the Cubist movement. With dimensions of 349 x 776 cm, it is an allegorical painting that powerfully responds to the tragic bombing of the town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Currently housed in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Spain, this monumental work stands as a stark testament to the horrors of war.

In the artwork, Pablo Picasso employs a monochromatic palette, dominated by shades of gray, black, and white, which amplifies its dramatic impact. The scene is a chaotic and fractured depiction of agony and devastation. At first glance, the composition may seem bewildering due to its disjointed figures and the Cubist style in which it is rendered, but examination reveals a narrative of pain and destruction.

Fragmented bodies and distressed animal figures populate the canvas, suggesting chaos and suffering. Notably, a gored horse occupies the center, its mouth agape in a cry of anguish, while a bull stands ominously to the left, a recurring motif in Picasso’s work that often symbolizes brutality and darkness. Above, a glaring eye-shaped light bulb watches over the scene, perhaps symbolizing the indifferent gaze of technology over the ravaged townspeople.

To the right, a woman is seen wailing as she holds what appears to be a lifeless child in her arms, an embodiment of loss and maternal grief. Meanwhile, other figures, including a fallen soldier and a figure with outstretched arms, contribute to the chaotic narrative of destruction and human agony that resonates throughout the artwork.

Picasso’s “Guernica” is a powerful anti-war statement and a universal reminder of the tragedies of conflict, resonating through its fragmented forms and impassioned expressions to convey a timeless message of peace.

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