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Pablo Picasso, Guernica

Guernica is a highly potent painting by Pablo Picasso. It is one of the world’s greatest anti-war paintings. The painting is gigantic and illustrates the bombing of the Spanish town of Guernica in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.

Guernica, oil on canvas by Pablo Picasso, 1937; in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. 3.49 × 7.77 m.

Date painted: 1937
Artist: Pablo Picasso
Subjects: Spanish Civil War · Suffering · War
Location: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Genre: Narrative Art
Media: Oil Paint

Guernica, a large black-and-white, bold linear oil painting dramatically executed by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso following the German bombing of Guernica, a city in Spain’s Basque region. The complex geometric painting received mixed reviews when it was shown in the Spanish Republic Pavilion at the world’s fair in Paris, but it has became an icon following it’s tour around the world in the ensuing years.

Spain was six months into its civil war, a military rebellion undertaken by the Nationalists against the government and the Republicans. Several months later, German aircraft, on the request of the Nationalists bombed the metropolis of Guernica on April 26. The three-hour long blitz nearly annihilated the town and killed or wounded nearly one-third of the population. Picasso completed this substantial painting in just under a month.

Picasso had lived in France since 1904. An expat who was vocal about his opposition to the militant autocracy of his home country, Picasso crafted the tribute to the war-torn Spanish city without having set foot within the nation’s borders since 1934. He would never return to Spain.

Picasso once treated a German Gestapo officer to a sharp responce in reference to the painting’s depiction of the atrocities of fascism and war. When asked by an officer about the painting, “Did you do that?” Picasso is said to have replied, “No, you did.”

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