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Analysis of Picasso’s GuernicaPicasso’s Guernica is one of the most powerful and disturbing anti-warpaintings ever produced.

I have always admired Picasso’s works and wanted to write adissertation on some aspects of his work. I first saw his Guernica asa poster in my History of Art room. I was fascinated by it and wantedto find out more about its background. I then went to Madrid and sawthis vast painting in the Rene Sofia Museum. Its scale anddisruptiveness intrigued me to study this painting in depth.

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I will look at a short background to the Spanish Civil War and why ithappened and how it destroyed the Basque town Guernica and everyoneliving in it. Then I will look at and study PicassoA’s reaction to thebombing and how his famous anti-war painting came about. Then I willlook at the contemporary reactions to Guernica and how it stillaffects people alive today.

Section 1: The Spanish Civil War

This is the background, the context, which informed Picasso, a Catalanin voluntary exile in Paris, and led to the painting of Guernica,which will be discussed in the following sections.

Between 1936 and 1939 over 500,000 people were killed in the SpanishCivil War. The depression of the 1930s hit Spain hard. Unemploymentrose and Rivera 1* did not have the ability to sort out Spain’sfinancial mess. The army withdrew its support and Rivera had toresign.

In April 1931, elections were held in Spain, which resulted inRepublicans winning all the major cities in Spain. Alfonso 2* decidedto abdicate, as he feared that if he stayed on, Spain would plummetinto chaos. Those victorious at the election then declared Spain aRepublic and the monarchy was abolished.

The new Republic immediately faced a number of major problems, some ofwhich concerned two important regions in Spain, Catalonia and theBasque region, who wanted independence. Had their requests beensuccessful, it would have lead to the break-up of Spain. Thegovernment also believed that the army had too much say in politicsand determined to reduce its influence. Spain was primarily anagricultural nation and the 1930s Depression had hit prices for crops.Prime exports such as olive oil and wine fell in value and previouslyused agricultural land fell into disuse. The little industry thatSpain had was also hit by the Depression. Iron and stee…

… SpanishCivil War. In this opinion at least one of the intentions of thepainting – to have a propagandist function A– has been successfullyfulfilled.

When I first saw a reproduction of Guernica I had no idea about itscontents and the civil war that inspired its iconography. As a resultof my research for this dissertation I have learnt so much more aboutnationality, the context of the war, and, of course Picasso’s deepfeelings as a Catalan. I only really knew about Picasso from hisCubist works but now I have discovered a different side of Picassowhich I had never learnt about before.



Picasso – Timothy Hilton

A Picasso Anthology – Edited by Marilyn McCully

Picasso’s War – Russell Martin

Picasso – Ingo F. Walther

The Shock of the New – Robert Hughes

Picasso – Lorraine Levy

Pablo Picasso, A modern Master – Richard Leslie

Guernica – Paloma Esteban Leal

Paper Museum – Andrew Graham-Dixon

The Story of Modern Art – Norbert Lynton

Visual Arts in the 20th Century – Edward Lucie-Smith.

Newspapers and magazines.

The Times March 3 1999

The Times April 28 1937

Web sites.

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