Guernica is a powerful oil painting by Pablo Picasso, created in 1937 as a response to the horrific bombing of Guernica, a city in Spain’s Basque region, during the Spanish Civil War. This black-and-white painting measures 11 feet tall and 25 feet long and is considered one of Picasso’s most significant works.
The painting depicts the pain and chaos wrought by war through its use of a monochrome color palette, Cubist structures, nightmarish figures, and dismembered bodies. While its precise meaning is open to interpretation, Guernica represents Picasso’s outrage over the senseless violence caused by the bombing; it has become an international symbol of wartime genocide and an exemplar of anti-war art.
Despite being commissioned by Spain’s Republican government for the Paris Exhibition in 1937, Guernica was never exhibited in Spain during Franco’s dictatorship. However, since 1981 it has been displayed at Madrid’s Museo Reina Sofía as one of its most famous pieces. The painting’s impact on art history remains undeniable with scholars analyzing its cultural significance for decades.