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Pablo Picasso's Guernica

Essay by   •  November 26, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,236 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,397 Views

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Megan Espy

Lenetta Choate

ART 200

24 September 2012

Question 1:

Pablo Picasso's Guernica is perhaps one of the most looked-at paintings of the twentieth century. It is a FINE ART, which is intended to be looked at and created for aesthetic value with no real utilitarian purpose. Guernica was commissioned by the Spanish Government to explicitly protest against the bombing of Guernica, Spain by German and Italian Armies. In a period of three hours, Hitler's forces dropped over 3,000 bombs and used machine guns to kill any civilian that tried to flee.

Guernica is a TWO- DEMENSIONAL mural that exists only on a flat surface with only length and height, but no depth in space. The mural stands 11 feet tall and a little over 25 feet wide. At Picasso's request, Guernica was moved to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Eventually in 1981, after the fascist regime had ended, the painting was moved back to the Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art in Madrid. For years a security glass protected the TWO- DEMENSIONAL painting. Guernica was only to be seen from the front.

Almost anyone can tell that Guernica is a very ABSTRACT piece of work. Guernica is a painting that has been stripped of all of the nonessential elements. It is ABSTRACT because it defines the essence rather than the surface of the elements. Picasso's ABSTRACT style serves to deliberately confuse the viewer's gaze at the center of the painting, whereas these figures and events can only be picked out after a careful analysis.

The Guernica captured my attention because of Picasso's use of LINE, which is a mark or area significantly longer than it is wide. Guernica contains a lot of compositional LINE that leads the eye through a work, unifying figures or parts of figures. It is noticeable that the painting is composed of many lines that form triangles and strong diagonals. The use of line in this painting sends your eyes all over the place, leaving it to you to discover the understandable forms and clues.

Triangles are consistent throughout the painting. In art, when there is a consistent use of shape, it is called REPETITION. There is a major triangle that runs from the dead warrior's open palm on the far left, up to the lamp at the top center of the painting, back down to the foot of the woman on the far right side of the painting. Many other triangles are used to represent flames and fingers. The REPITITIOUS, pointed shapes kind of sets a dangerous tone for the painting, which would represent the bombing of the city.

And lastly, The Guernica is a prime example of SYMBOLISM. Artists use SYMBOLISM to represent things. Many of the symbols in Guernica are open for interpretation. Many of the symbols represent parts or all parts of the war. The broken sword near the bottom of the painting represents the defeat of the citizens at the hand of their tormentors. The shapes of the bodies in Guernica represent distress and protest. The flaming buildings possibly represent the bombing of Guernica and reflect the civil war. The light bulb/sun/eye at the top is a pretty symbolic element. I infer that it represents God watching, or shedding light on the chaos. The bull in the Guernica perhaps, represents brutality and torment of the people, maybe even repression. Picasso typically refused to explain the symbols and left the painting open for interpretation, which is what makes it so intriguing.

When I look at the Guernica, I can definitely see Picasso's



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