80th Anniversary of the Guernica...


05/04/17 - In January 1937, Pablo Picasso (Spain, 1881-1973) is visited in his Parisian house by a delegation of the Government of the Spanish Republic. The request? A mural for the Spanish pavilion at the International Exhibition in Paris. It would offer the perfect chance to reveal the war held in Spain against Franco's troops. Picasso accepted the commission, but his muses seemed to have vanished and he could not find a subject to depict.
In April, he is deeply moved by the news of a brutal bombing by German planes in the Basque city of Guernica. A few days later, he knew what he wanted to paint in the 3.5 x 8 mts canvas: he would show the world the horrors of war. It was not an easy task. He did several sketches to achieve the protesting and claiming figures he had in mind. He wanted a bull and a horse, but it was very important to truly show the innocence of the first and the moaning of the latter. Picasso also focused on the hands: How to depict this small part of a victim of horror?
Sketches for the Guernica. Pablo Picasso. June 1937
Mano de Guerrero, by Pablo Picasso (1937)
Technique: pencil and ink on paper / Measures: 23.2 x 29.3 cm
Maybe the most dramatic figure for Picasso was the woman with her son in her arms, on the left of the painting. Sketches after sketches and still he wasn't satisfied with the result.
Mujer con su hijo, by Pablo Picasso
Sketch for the Guernica.
The painting slowly took shape till it became a mute cry against the war, although as viewers we can almost listen the sobbing of the woman that asks for mercy and the neigh of the scared horse.
First version of Guernica. Picasso.
Many adjectives come to mind regarding the Guernica: powerful, one-of-a kind, updated. The truth is that it represents a message against violence that still defies us. In front of it, we can only feel abandonment and devastation.
Picasso working on the painting at his Grands-Augustins studio (Paris) in 1937 
Photo taken by Dora Maar, his lover back then.

Keep reading... "Guernica. La historia de un ícono del siglo XX", by Gijs van Hensbergen.

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Liliana Wrobel

Production & Translation

Carla Mitrani